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review 2018-01-08 04:08
Alliance in Blood by Ariel Tachna
Alliance In Blood - Ariel Tachna

I was working on my “Best and Worst of 2017” post and realized I still needed to review this because it’s definitely going to end up on my “worst” list.

This is one of the Dreamspinner Press books I bought before I decided to boycott them for knowingly publishing P2P fanfic and then just sort of shrugging and doing nothing when they were called on it. I had given Tachna’s The Inventor’s Companion 3 stars when I read it back in 2011 and liked it just enough to give her books another shot. This turned out to be a mistake on my part.

I finished this a month and a half ago, so apologies if my summary has some issues. Alliance in Blood stars Orlando, a vampire, and Alain, a wizard. Vampires and wizards have been at war for a long time. Although wizards view vampires as dangerous monsters, they’ve decided that they need to try to form an alliance with them because the wizards are also at war with dark wizards and could use some help. The vampires agree to the alliance 1) because it would give them a chance at having the same rights as wizards and 2) because Alain and Orlando accidentally form a bond and discover that wizard blood might allow vampires to walk in the sun again.

My issues with this book started in the author’s introduction and just got worse from there. In her introduction, Tachna writes: “I can very proudly state that I've never read a vampire story. Not Anne Rice, not Laurel K. Hamilton, not Bram Stoker. The closest I've ever come was a monologue I read in seventh grade called ‘Dress of White Silk.’” (4) I’m pretty sure that Tachna intended this as evidence of just how original her vampire story was going to be. However, as someone who has read and enjoyed a lot of vampire stories, I just found it insulting. Not having read a subgenre’s foundational works isn’t something for someone writing in that subgenre to be proud of, and it also isn’t necessarily an indicator that the work is going to be original, just that the author will have absolutely no clue whether it’s original or not. I also wasn’t encouraged by Tachna’s misspelling of Laurell K. Hamilton’s name.

The introduction went on to say that Alliance in Blood was originally just the first part of one very long novel that Tachna was forced to break into separate novels in order to make it more likely that a publisher would accept it. This brings me to one of Alliance in Blood’s many problems: its poor pacing. Most of the book is devoted to Orlando and Alain testing the effects of Alain’s blood and the blood of other wizards on vampires, all while angsting and panting over each other like horny teenagers. Sometimes characters recounted events for other characters’ benefit, which readers had to suffer through even though these events had already happened on-page. I have a feeling that Tachna’s one long book could have been much stronger if she had just ruthlessly edited it and cut out any unnecessary scenes.

Well, it might have been better. Pacing wasn’t the book’s only problem. Another huge issue was the way it missed all emotional notes that weren’t directly related to Orlando and Alain wanting to have sex with each other. Relatively early on in the book, Alain’s best friend Thierry’s not-quite-ex-wife was killed by dark wizards. Hardly anyone seemed to care or remember that this had happened. I could sort of accept Thierry’s reaction as his way of trying to keep it together and continue doing his job. I was disgusted by Alain, however. Instead of worrying about his best friend, he could barely keep his hands and mind off Orlando, a guy he’d only known for maybe a day.

Orlando and Alain’s relationship moved unbelievably fast. If I remember right, the whole book took place in the space of maybe three days. In that time, Orlando and Alain declared their love for each other, Alain allowed Orlando to brand him, and they ended up with a bond that put Orlando completely at Alain’s mercy. They had one absolutely ridiculous argument where Alain was supposedly in the wrong, and all I could think was that Orlando was expecting someone who was almost a stranger to basically read his mind and know automatically how he felt.

After many chapters of almost nothing new happening, the book ended with sequel bait (a bunch of vampires and wizards pairing off, with varying degrees of willingness) and a wooden and boring big battle. I’m glad that this was the only book in the series that I purchased, because I have no desire to continue on with this series.

Additional Comments:

I have no idea if this was a formatting problem or if it was intentionally done, but there were no scene breaks - the book moved smoothly from one scene to the next in the space of a paragraph. In one instance, this had the unfortunate effect of making it look like Orlando was calmly drinking espresso at the edge of a bloody battle like it was no big deal.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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text 2017-11-02 20:00
Reading progress update: I've read 86 out of 210 pages.
Alliance In Blood - Ariel Tachna

This is a terrible book. Two days have gone by since it began. In that time:

- Orlando and Alain met.

- Orlando told Alain he would trust him if Alain would let him taste his blood. Alain agreed to let him. There was no indication that this act generally had any emotional significance for vampires - it was done for purely pragmatic reasons.

- Magical connection! Alain's blood allows Orlando to safely be exposed to sunlight. They literally spend chapters testing this. They technically haven't finished their tests yet.

- Another wizard arrives. Alain doesn't trust him and

tells Orlando to taste his blood to see if he's telling the truth. Even though this is exactly what Orlando did to Alain when they first met, suddenly Orlando feels betrayed. Drinking blood is like sex! Alain is whoring him out! How could he!

- Alain wants to make it up to Orlando and asks what he can do to make things right. Orlando says "Accept my mark." Meaning, "let me brand your neck." (I think it was his neck. I don't feel like going back to check.)

- Orlando hadn't actually expected Alain to allow himself to be branded, even though it had basically been framed like an ultimatum. He is beside himself at this evidence of Alain's trust in him.

- Alain thought that by accepting Orlando's brand he was marking himself as a submissive in their relationship. Orlando is shocked and dismayed. No, no, he never meant that!

- Whoa, wait. In reality, Orlando just put himself under Alain's power by branding him. Alain can now kill him simply by withholding his own blood, since Orlando can no longer tolerate anyone else's.

(spoiler show)


- Do any of these characters remember that Thierry's wife died less than 24 hours ago?

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text 2017-10-30 15:18
Clean slate
Jane Jensen: Gabriel Knight, Adventure Games, Hidden Objects (Influential Video Game Designers) - Jennifer deWinter,Carly A. Kocurek,Anastasia Salter
The snail-watcher, and other stories - Patricia Highsmith
The Naked Sun - Isaac Asimov

I turned in these and a bunch of other library books today, unfinished. I still have The Moai Island Puzzle and Ichi-F checked out. Let's see if I can manage to finish and review them in time. I still haven't made a decision about The Ginza Ghost.

 

It looks like I might not get that second Bingo before the end of Halloween Bingo, although I still plan to finish the book I was reading for my Vampires square, Alliance in Blood. At the moment it's highly unlikely to get more than 2 stars from me, and I can practically feel the review writing itself. I'm still shaking my head at the author's decision to have one of the characters tell another character everything that just happened. The entire convo was included on-page, even though readers had just seen it all themselves and didn't need it repeated back to them. No wonder this book is just the first part of what was originally one enormous book.

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text 2017-10-22 22:24
Reading progress update: I've read 63 out of 210 pages.
Alliance In Blood - Ariel Tachna

The good:

 

- This is going to be a quick read, as long as I don't let myself get distracted by another book.

 

The bad:

 

- This book is missing pretty much every possible emotional note that isn't directly related to Alain (wizard) and Orlando (vampire) angsting over each other. Technically they've spent the past few chapters testing the ability of wizard blood to allow vampires to walk in sunlight unharmed, but it comes across more like Alain and Orlando are two horny teenagers who can't keep away from each other. There was a battle just a few hours ago that killed Alain's best friend Thierry's wife (estranged, but still). No one seemed to be very affected by all of those deaths, even Thierry. He got a little angry, and there was one line about him telling himself to keep it together, but that was it.

 

- There are chapter breaks, but no scene breaks. This has mostly just been a little jarring, but at one point it had the unfortunate effect of making it seem like Orlando was calmly drinking espresso at the edge of a bloody battle like it was no big deal.

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text 2017-10-22 06:30
Reading progress update: I've read 4 out of 210 pages.
Alliance In Blood - Ariel Tachna

I'm aiming for my first Bingo with a book I know for a fact has vampires in it. But I'm wary. I stopped buying Dreamspinner Press books after learning that they had zero problems publishing P2P fanfic. Although I still own quite a few books of theirs that I purchased before that point, I also don't read their stuff much anymore, since my tastes have changed and they just don't look as appealing to me now.

 

It starts off with an author's note. The beginning of the second paragraph: "I can very proudly state that I've never read a vampire story. Not Anne Rice, not Laurel K. Hamilton, not Bram Stoker. The closest I've ever come was a monologue I read in seventh grade called 'Dress of White Silk.'" Uhh. I'm not sure it's a good idea to say you've "proudly" never read any vampire stories when your books includes vampires as prominent characters, although I'm guessing this is supposed to indicate how original the story I'm about to read is going to be. And it's "Laurell," not "Laurel." So I'm raising an eyebrow at the editor too.

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