The Blood Princess

Fiction - Fantasy - Epic
538 Pages
Reviewed on 10/02/2022
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite

The Blood Princess by S.A. Gonsalves is a speculative fiction novel and the first book in The Bonds That Bind Us fantasy series. The story revolves around a princess named Sulwyn, abandoned by her parents, the King and Queen of the Empire, who embrace autocracy with a ferocity that bleeds its people dry through uncompromising demands of loyalty, obedience, and subjugation. Sulwyn becomes Kintana but is dealt another cruel blow when she is deceived and handed back to her parents. From here a political balancing act ensues, and falling one way or the other will be catastrophic. Sulwyn's loyalty to her parents must appear authentic in order to survive, even as she journeys on assignment to hunt down those marked as traitors of the Empire—the people she wants desperately to protect. To liberate. But magic is at work and so too are mechanisms far beyond Sulwyn's ability to deceive, and the price innocent people are forced to pay to strengthen another's power is the greatest threat of all.

I am very rarely caught off guard by plot twists in a genre like fantasy where it feels like there is nothing original left to recycle, but S.A. Gonsalves surprised me in The Blood Princess with exactly that. I need to rewind here a little before I get to that though because it took some time to get there. From a literary standpoint, the writing for the first several chapters is bumpy. More substance than style and less polished than many readers will be accustomed to. This is a long book and hanging in there requires some real trust on the part of the reader and I am going to tell you: it's worth it. Gonsalves' evolution as a writer happens almost in real time. The prose becomes tighter, the dialogue starts to feel authentic, and the telling morphs beautifully into showing. Give it time and you will see it also.

Aside from the protagonist, there is one other character who is fleshed out to the point where I could probably pick him out of a line-up. Daijiro, an aggressive protector who is a brute in every sense of the word, is the most savory of unsavory characters. As bizarre as it might sound, he turns out to be my favorite. Why? He has a defined personality and is a character so well developed I feel like I know him. And this is the point when Gonsalves' storytelling kicks into high gear and **that** twist occurs. It's a wonderful doozy and provides a very real possibility that the best is yet to come in this series.

Jamie Michele

The first book in the debut series The Bonds That Bind Us by S.A. Gonsalves is The Blood Princess, a fantasy adventure that tells the story of a princess who must save herself and Vartugaul from the wrath of its rulers. Princess Sulwyn was left for dead as a baby by her parents who are King and Queen. In the same way they cared nothing for Sulwyn, they also do not care for those living in the Empire. They only care about power and protect it with a savage iron fist. Sulwyn is a social justice warrior who goes by the name Kintana but it all comes crashing down when a betrayal occurs. Back in the Empire, it is Sulwyn who requires saving from her own parents, who ensnare the princess they had previously discarded for their own enhancement of power. The necessity of Sulwyn to pledge her devotion to the King and Queen is paramount or she and many others will continue to perish at their hands and under the spell of those ruling the Empire.

The Blood Princess by S.A. Gonsalves is an enjoyable first entry into a new fantasy series and ticks the most important boxes a reader would want. There are good and bad uses for magic and there are those who can use it and others who don't. Princess Sulwyn is learning to work with her magic but by her own admission, she “sucks” at it. There's an adventure shaped as a traditional quest where Sulwyn's obedience is tested alongside two protectors/companions; the shifty and hard to pin if he's secretly good or truly bad Galahad and the feral enforcer Daijiro. Daijiro is a suitor to Sulwyn's hand in marriage as well. Gonsalves' world-building takes us beyond the Empire into villages and towns, at least the ones we can see. It is what Daijiro, Galahad, and Sulwyn cannot see that cloaks rebels branded by the Empire as treasonous and the quest is to arrest those who dare speak ill of the ruling class and make them pay. Or so we are told. Like the layers of an onion, Gonsalves peels back only what the author wants us to see, then produces a final layer that can evoke tears in the softer readers and squeal of delight from fantasy fans. I look forward to reading book two. Highly recommended.

Jennifer Ibiam

Pandora and Artaxiad overthrew the king, brought down the High City, bathed it in blood, and usurped the throne. The couple ruled with an iron fist. Pandora and her husband also left their infant daughter, Sulwyn, to die in a burning house. Raghnall, the steel warrior, saved and took care of her. She grew up in the wild as the lethal Kintana and never knew her parents. Sulwyn eventually learned about them and vowed vengeance for her people. One day, twenty-three years later, Sulwyn woke up and found herself in the empire and at her parents' mercy. Someone had betrayed her. Skilled in combat and premonition, Sulwyn would navigate the evil empire. However, following her vow, how long before she unleashes Kintana? Find out in The Blood Princess by S.A. Gonsalves.

Wow! The Blood Princess by S.A. Gonsalves is a lengthy and captivating read. It would appeal to lovers of epic, medieval, and dark stories. This book showcased the dirty and dark things that happened behind the throne. The desperate quest for power, manipulation, treachery, magic, abuse, deception, and more ruled the empire. Gonsalves brought Game of Thrones to mind with this riveting novel. Everyone had agendas, there was a fierce struggle for survival, and every moment was unpredictable. I loved the brilliant plot and beautiful characters. I had many favorites like Arsinone, Eztli, Nori, and Kione. Galahad and Daijiro were the stars because they could play the game. They had many faces. Sulwyn was indeed reckless to the point of exasperation, but she was formidable. This story is beautiful, and it deserves a sequel.