Bloodsworn by Tej Turner

Jan 6, 2024
Bloodsworn by Tej Turner HORROR BOOK REVIEW .png

Tej Turner is not afraid to write violent and well-paced action scenes that are gory, and for a change shows that character deaths have an impact on both individuals and the group dynamics.

Bloodsworn by Tej Turner, review by Fantasy Book Nerd.

“Everyone from Jalard knew what a bloodoath was. Legendary characters in the tales people told to their children often made such pacts with the gods. By drawing one’s own blood whilst speaking a vow, people became ‘Bloodsworn’.

And in every tale where the oath was broken, the ending was always the same. The Bloodsworn died.”

It has been twelve years since The War of Ashes, but animosity still lingers between the nations of Sharma and Gavendara, and only a few souls have dared to cross the border between them.

The villagers of Jalard live a bucolic existence, nestled within the hills of western Sharma and far away from the boundary which was once a warzone. To them, tales of bloodshed seem no more than distant fables. They have little contact with the outside world, apart from once a year when they are visited by representatives from the Academy who choose two of them to be taken away to their institute in the capital. To be Chosen is considered a great honour… of which most of Jalard’s children dream.

But this year the Academy representatives make an announcement which is so shocking it causes friction between the villagers, and some of them begin to suspect that all is not what it seems. Just where are they taking the Chosen, and why? Some of them intend to find out, but what they discover will change their lives forever and set them on a long and bloody path to seek vengeance

Bloodsworn by Tej Turner Review

Tej Turner adds an interesting voice to the epic fantasy stock with the first book in The Avatars of Ruin trilogy, Bloodsworn.

The story revolves around a group of young teens and their teacher thrust into a world of intrigue and war.

When we start the story we meet Kyra, who is late for a very important date. We are not sure what this is, but as the opening scene unfolds, we learn that she is a female (the only) initiate in the local fighting school and that the very important date that she is late for are her assessments that will hopefully lead her towards being a Chosen in the Military Academy at the capitol of Sharma. However, when things don’t go as expected and the two pupils most unlikely to succeed are chosen their lives are irrevocably changed.

Initially, Bloodsworn starts like any number of epic fantasy tales with the main protagonists living a bucolic existence in an isolated village very far from anyone. We are instantly introduced to the rivalries of the main group of adventurers and their various instructors, including Baird who is there to teach the younger inhabitants of the village how to hold a sword and any other weapon in response to the end of the War of the Ashes, which was a conflict between the country of Sharma (in which our main protagonists live) and the neighbouring country Gavendara.

However, things do not turn out as expected and the two most likely students are not picked in favour of what seems to be the two most unlikeliest students.

With the choice of the least popular students, we learn that the War of the Ashes is far from over and when Jaedin and Sidly (the choices made to go to the academy) are kidnapped along with their tutors, Baird and Miles, we learn that far from being over, a secret war is being waged and the Gavendarians are carrying out arcane experiments on their captives.

Back in Jalard, in an attempt to mollify the two brightest stars, Rivan and Kyra, the leaders of the village send them on a supply mission to neighbouring villages. Rivan and Kyra, along with the third member of the party, Aylen. Whilst fulfilling their mission they come upon a scene of violence which leads them to discover the plot by the Gavenadrians and their friends,  leading to consequences and ramifications that they could not foretell.

I think that one of the reasons why this book works so well, is that Tej Turner has a pretty good eye for characterisations, and immediately when we are introduced to the book through Kyra’s perspective, you are instantly drawn into finding out what is going to happen. It is interesting to see Tej Turner take a familiar formula and alter it to make something that feels fresh and engrossing, in that when you read Bloodsworn you recognise tropes that you are accustomed to reading in epic fantasy like found family, coming of age tales and hidden dark lords that are rising up to threaten the world. However, Tej Turner finds a way to make this formula feel fresh and relevant for modern readers.

One of the things that I found quite refreshing in Bloodsworn was the characters. The group in Bloodsworn are mainly teenagers, and in all honesty, this is a regular thing in epic fantasy. However, what normally ends up happening is that the teenagers in most books usually end up behaving more like adults and their age becomes something of an irrelevancy. In Bloodsworn, Tej Turner is not afraid to let the disparate group of teenagers act like a disparate group of teenagers. They maintain their petty rivalries and insecurities, sometimes letting these things cloud their judgement. At times they are irrational, impulsive and sometimes downright spiteful to each other. They bully Jaedin, whose only difference is being gay, and they mercilessly judge his abilities on his differences. However, the adults aren’t much better. Baird and Miles who end up looking after and trying to keep the irreverent bunch into some kind of cohesive group are equally as mismatched. For instance, when Bryna joins the group, Baird regularly berates her and as we sometimes have an insight into the thoughts of the characters, you get to see how inept Baird is to lead the group.  There were many times that I hoped that someone would just tell him to eff off and shut the flub up, and don’t get me started on Miles!

After, the initial start of the story, the pace of the tale is quite fast, especially when the group are being chased and harried in their bid to reach the capital. As I said, I think the characterisations of the ensemble cast work well, with several different characters’ point of view being brought in to give different perspectives and motivations. Another thing that I liked is that Tej Turner is not afraid to write violent and well-paced action scenes that are gory, and for a change shows that character deaths have an impact on both individuals and the group dynamics.

I have to say that I enjoyed Bloosworn and found it to be a modern take on the classic epic fantasy tale.

About the author (2021)

Tej Turner has spent much of his life on the move and he does not have any particular place he calls ‘home’. For a large period of his childhood he dwelt within the Westcountry of England, and he then moved to rural Wales to study Creative Writing and Film at Trinity College in Carmarthen, followed by a master’s degree at The University of Wales Lampeter.After completing his studies, he moved to Cardiff, where he works as a chef by day and writes by moonlight. He is also an intermittent traveller who every now and then straps on a backpack and flies off to another part of the world to go on an adventure. So far, he has clocked two years in Asia and a year in South America. He hopes to go on more and has his sights set on Central America next. When he travels, he takes a particular interest in historic sites, jungles, wildlife, native cultures, and mountains. He also spent some time volunteering at the Merazonia Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in Ecuador, a place he hopes to return to someday. Bloodsworn is his third published novel. His debut novel The Janus Cycle was published by Elsewhen Press in 2015, followed by his sequel Dinnusos Rises in 2017. Both of them were described as ‘gritty and surreal urban fantasy’. He has also had short stories published in various anthologies. He keeps a travelblog on his website, where he also posts author-related news.

Bloodsworn by Tej Turner

Bloodsworn by Tej Turner

“Classic epic fantasy. I enjoyed it enormously” – Anna Smith Spark

Everyone from Jalard knew what a bloodoath was. Legendary characters in the tales people told to their children often made such pacts with the gods. By drawing one’s own blood whilst speaking a vow, people became ‘Bloodsworn’. And in every tale where the oath was broken, the ending was always the same. The Bloodsworn died.

It has been twelve years since The War of Ashes, but animosity still lingers between the nations of Sharma and Gavendara, and only a few souls have dared to cross the border between them.

  The villagers of Jalard live a bucolic existence, nestled within the hills of western Sharma, and far away from the boundary which was once a warzone. To them, tales of bloodshed seem no more than distant fables. They have little contact with the outside world, apart from once a year when they are visited by representatives from the Academy who choose two of them to be taken away to their institute in the capital. To be Chosen is considered a great honour… of which most of Jalard’s children dream.

  But this year the Academy representatives make an announcement which is so shocking it causes friction between the villagers, and some of them begin to suspect that all is not what it seems. Just where are they taking the Chosen, and why? Some of them intend to find out, but what they discover will change their lives forever and set them on a long and bloody path to seek vengeance…

Cover design: Alison Buck

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