Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Glass Sword - Victoria Aveyard

HOLD UP.  Don't even think about reading this summary or review unless you've read the first book in this series, the Red Queen, which was reviewed several years ago and, again, back in September.  Just don't.  There are too many spoilers.

Summary:  If there's one thing Mare Barrow knows, it's that she's different.

Mare Barrow's blood is red - the color of the common folk - but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon the royal court tries to control.

The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from Maven, the prince - the friend - who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: She is not the only one of her kind.

Pursued by Maven, now a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors.  But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat.

The electrifying next installment in the Red Queen series escalates the struggle between the growing rebel army and the blood-segregated world they've always known - and pits Mare against the darkness that has grown in her soul.  (Summary from back of book - Image from amazon.com)

My Review:  Take a big breath before starting this book. Maybe do some stretching exercises. Go to the bathroom.  Set your phone to Do not disturb or I will murder you.  Okay, now you're ready.

Glass Sword picks up right where Red Queen ends and takes off running.  In the first hundred pages scuffles ensue, new threats arise, friendships are tested, and a brazen escape occurs, all before Mare and a few of her cohorts set off on a special mission.  Together, they must find and rescue other newbloods, people like Mare with red blood and silver abilities, before Maven can slaughter them and bring Mare back under his control.  I loved the discovery of each of the newbloods and learning more about their specific gifts.  Most of them were different from anything the straight Silver-bloods had on hand and it was interesting to watch the evolution of those gifts and how they worked together to accomplish the rebels' objectives.  It was all very X-men and I ate it up.

Although neither book in the series is particularly romance-driven, there are still three men in this book with feelings for Mare.  As if managing a rebellion weren't enough, Mare must also keep Kilorn firmly friend-zoned while fighting her romantic connection to Cal, the disgraced heir, who has lent himself to the rebel cause for now.  She's also being straight-up hunted by Maven (a very good baddie) whose feelings for Mare lean more towards homicidal ownership than healthy affection.  You'd think this would help Mare get some closure, but she still can't quite let go of the feelings she held for the overlooked princeling she thought she knew.  I reserve judgement as I haven't figured that situation out yet (so stay tuned...).  Taken as a whole, it's a lot of relationship drama for one book, but I felt the author managed to handle this part of the story without letting it overwhelm the rest of the story, which was entertaining in it's own right.

One of the darker aspects of the book are Mare's occasionally questionable tactics.  While she is absolutely loyal and fierce in defense of the cause and those she loves, Mare can also be vicious, vengeful, and unmerciful towards the enemy. She uses people to serve her own purposes, morphs into someone she feels she needs to be in order to win certain battles, and I'd be lying if I said it was an easy pill to swallow.  When other characters call her on the behavior, it raises some interesting questions in her mind and in the reader's: How do you win a war, and do what must be done, and still retain your soul?  Must you become a monster to fight a monster?  How far is too far?  Such is the battle that rages in Mare.

Aside from getting to know the newbloods one of my favorite aspects of Glass Sword was how Mare and others begin to see that blood doesn't necessarily define a person as good or evil.  At one point, Mare muses on this shift: 
Once I thought blood was the world entire, the difference between dark and light an irrevocable, impassable divide.  It made the Silvers powerful and cold and brutal, inhuman compared to my Red brethren.  They were nothing like us, unable to feel pain or remorse or kindness. But people like Cal, Julian, and even Lucas have shown me how wrong I was. They are just as human, just as full of fear and hope.  They are not without their sins, but neither are we. Neither am I.
That slow change in perspectives keeps the story moving and, I'm sure, will play out more as the series continues.  With that in mind, let me leave you with a wee tip. This book ends with a brutal cliffhanger. Like, if I were reading this right after it's release I'd be all AAAAAAAACK NOOOO!!! and scrambling to see when the next book came out.  The good news, is it's already out (as is the next one).  You're going to want to have the third book, King's Cage in very close proximity when you finish.  In an effort to be a well-rounded reader, I promised myself I would read one non-fiction book before I start anything else and, not to be too dramatic, the wait might kill me.  Wish me luck.

SIDENOTE:  As in the last book, I have this sneaking suspicion that this book is set in post-apocalyptic North America, specifically the East Coast of the United States.  The cities have names like Naercy, Delphi, Wash, Tuck, Cancorda, Siracas, etc.  Squint a little and it's not too hard to see New York City, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Nantucket, Concord, and Syracuse there.  I don't know if this will play out later in the story, or if it's important at all, but I find it very interesting and am constantly looking for clues to confirm my suspicions.

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

For the Sensitive reader:  Plenty of violence that ends in loss of life, some very young. Some in-bed snuggling, but no sex, and if I counted right, there were three swear words (all of the bi*** variety).

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