In Pain and Blood is the first book in the Spellster series, and has all the hallmarks of everything I enjoy - epic fantasy, m/m, romance, action, and adventure. Dylan has spent his life in 'the Tower' learning how to be a spellster. Magic comes easily to him, but his guardian keeps on telling him to stay safe in the tower, and not to make waves. However, one event shoves him to the forefront, and he sees more of life than he expected. Trying to make his way back to the Tower, he becomes part of a ragtag group and sees life in a completely different way.
This should have been a good book. I really wanted it to be a good book, but it fell short for me on a number of different levels. First of all, it's long. And I mean REALLY long. Now don't get me wrong, I love epic fantasy, and regularly read books of a thick volume. However, for this book, it felt like it needed some serious editing to get some of the monotonous repetition removed. Also, this land is supposed to be under attack, but they manage to completely miss any and every member of either army on their two month trek across the land - which we hear about in great detail. How this book started actually had me going back to check on the blurb as I thought I was reading a completely different book. It does change and become the story the blurb describes, but only after a long start. It is only the two main characters who we really meet, and I wouldn't say I 'know' them very well. Even their companions, who they spend so much time with, aren't really fleshed out. It didn't help when one of the main characters spoke to everyone as 'my dear hunter/my dear warrior/my dear spellster'. I know this was supposed to be one of his quirks, but I got it after the first dozen times. It really didn't need repeating multiple times on every page. The ending, such as it was, is the only thing in the book that felt rushed. Big events happen, something life-changing happens to a supporting character, opinions change, a lifetime's enduring love is pronounced, and it happens at the speed of light.
I struggled to finish this book. It was only my sheer stubborn nature and optimistic belief that it would get better (and if I finished it before it ended, I would never know) that kept me turning the pages to the very end. I am glad I've read it, but I wouldn't recommend it.
* A copy of this book was provided to me with no requirements for a review. I voluntarily read this book, and my comments here are my honest opinion. *
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