Blood of the Four
by Golden, Christopher; Lebbon, Tim

A princess' desire for power in a realm where everyone is a slave upsets the delicate balance of peace between the royal and working classes, triggering a series of events that will end in her either becoming a goddess or destroying the kingdom.

A battle for the soul of a city is brewing. The Quandian kingdom was founded by the Four, gods whose magic still resides deep beneath the capital city. Up above, the royal family and the great clans enjoy lives of wealth and luxury, served by the lowly Bajuman, slaves deemed not worthy of their notice. Against clerical advice, Queen Lysandra incautiously attempts to gain full use of the Four's power and is driven insane. Ascending in her place is Princess Phela, who has been plotting to gain the throne since childhood. Her greed could disrupt the stability of the realm and result in her own insanity. Unknown to each other, two Bajuman siblings have attained positions in the priesthood and royal navy, respectively, and each is determined to free their people from slavery. The ensuing mayhem is epic. Horror titans Golden (Ararat, 2017) and Lebbon (Relics, 2017), who previously teamed up on the YA series The Secret Journeys of Jack London (The Wild, 2011), meld their talents again in this fantasy of madness and war. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

A once-strong kingdom is torn by power struggles in this one-volume epic. In several senses, the city of Lartha, capital of the Kingdom of Quandis, is founded on the Four, four ancient sorcerers-turned-gods. Quandis' rulers claim to be descended from the Four, and the most senior priests of the Temple of Four, known as the High Order, are said to perform magic by drawing on the power of the Four, who are allegedly buried beneath the Temple. The threat to that foundation begins when Queen Lysandra unlawfully attempts to gain control over magic herself but is defeated by her drug addiction and inability to master the discipline that magic requires. Her ruthlessly ambitious middle child, Princess Phela, had initially planned to seize the throne and rule through the information she's gathered by creeping through the palace's hidden passages. But now her plots have a wider scope: She wants to master magic for herself and make her rule a divine one. As Quandis shudders underneath h er tyranny and the priesthood suffers a schism, a few gather to oppose the new queen: Demos, an unfairly disgraced and enslaved baron's son; Blane, a young man of the Bajuman, the despised slave caste, who joined the priesthood to seek his own access to magic; his disguised sister, Adm. Daria Hallarte; and Phela's underestimated younger sister, Princess Myrinne. In a genre overcrowded by ever expanding series, this book demonstrates that there is plenty of room for action and intrigue in a stand-alone. There are some fairly graphic and brutal mutilations and deaths, but that darkness is balanced against sympathetic, and in some cases even pure-hearted, characters. The worldbuilding is fairly solid even if it would've been nice to understand more about how the priests wielded magic without it carving out their insides. A nicely self-contained and kinetic excursion into political fantasy. Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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