“That dragons are fiercely loyal, and never forget what was taken from us. That eventually, we decide to protect what is ours… and burn the rest.”

The second installment of a series tends to be the biggest let down.  Not so for the highly anticipated second novel in Tracy Deonn’s The Legendborn Cycle.  Bloodmarked (Simon & Schuster 2022) is soaked in grief and anger, with legends and lore at the crossroads where history tends to be remembered by those with the most power and a different history rests in the roots and blood-soaked soil.  I stated the following in my review of Legendborn:

“Deonn boldly stares down the traditional fantasy canon while giving the reader an Arthurian legend unlike anything Tennyson or Malory could have imagined.  She gives her reader Merlin and the magic expected from the likes of a kingsmage.  But she also gives us rootcraft and generational power.  She gives us Bree.”

These words ring just as true with Bloodmarked.  Deonn gives us more Arthur and more Camelot while showing us how Bree, a black girl turned King of a predominantly all-white Order, has created such a ripple in the preserved and protected bloodlines of that order.  Bree knows the Order of the Round Table, this legacy she did not choose, is one of violence.  But the Order has brought some of the most devoted and loyal people into her life, people who will fight to the death at her side and for her – and not just because she’s king.  And with them at her side, and with the magic of her ancestors, she’s about to flip this whole Table over and set it ablaze.

I can’t recommend this series enough. How Deonn handles grief, how it can have one sobbing on the bathroom floor to raging with a burning from within, is the lifeblood of this series.  The love triangle, because again, it’s an Arthurian tale and there must be a love triangle, is painful and delicate and potent. As for me, I’m Team Sel; the tortured Kingsmage forever has my heart – but in this intimate triangle, so often their hearts beat as one.  And that ending… my heart was not prepared.  I’m not sure if a release date for book three has been announced (I don’t think it has), but I have a strong feeling it will bring us more of the descendants of Morgaine and I’m here for it.

Read this book.

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