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By Nick Jameson

IR Rating:
Nick Jameson’s fantasy OLD BLOOD kicks off with promising energy and lushly-detailed storytelling.
When the Wolf Clan crosses the perilous, icy wastes into the lands occupied by the peaceful Mahwah tribe, an ancient prophecy is triggered that leads to an epic battle that involves eternal questions of how humanity can not only survive but thrive.

When the Wolf Clan successfully travels from Aria into the “New World,” they believe they are fulfilling a prophecy predicting untold glories. Led by King Harold, the Arians are fierce but completely unfamiliar with this beautiful land and the indigenous population that already claims it, known as the Mahwah. Harold’s son, Wolf Cub, catches sight of Kylen (the beautiful, otherworldly daughter of the Mahwah Medicine Man, Wahuchu) and is transfixed—but soon captured by the Mahwah.

This sets off a chain of events that disrupts both tribes in dramatic, violent ways. When the Mahwah Chief, Makunah, chooses to show Wolf Cub mercy and return him to his tribe, his son Zande feels resentment—resentment that’s compounded when Kylen shows favor to the foreigner. That leaves Zande vulnerable to the temptations of Kylen’s sister, Kezlan. The sisters both have powerful magic, but Kylen was raised with the Mahwah and is prophesied to usher in a new age of peace with a stranger from another land while her dark sister was imprisoned to protect the Mahwah from her evil intentions.

Nick Jameson’s OLD BLOOD begins as a propulsive, fast-paced story that quickly sets the table for an epic. The opening chapters offer plenty of lore and lush detail about the characters, their tribal culture, and the world around them, bursting with natural power. Jameson skillfully sets up the conflicting impulses of the young heirs, Zande and Wolf Cub, and traces out a fascinating fictional world and mythology.

Overall, he pays off that beginning with a compelling tale of greed and lust versus love and respect that delves into the bloody history of indigenous people being attacked, violently driven from their land, and forced to adopt new—and not always better—ways of living. At several points in the story, however, he hits the pause button on the plot in order to have characters engage in lengthy dialogs about his themes, shifting from showing us this intricately detailed world to telling us precisely what’s wrong with human civilization. There are several such sequences in the book, and each one stops the story cold to deliver a blunt message instead of seeding those themes more artfully throughout. The impression is that Jameson doesn’t trust his readers to “get” his overall message, to the detriment of the storytelling.

There’s also a tendency to overwrite with breathless, paragraph-length sentences that edge towards purple prose:

This is the realm of the miniature and the mighty, with few other trees standing between the magnificent wooded giants and the interlacing swords of ferns fanning out across the forest floor, the plant life draped across the stones and hollowed out logs, or spreading across the stilted roots of the cavern itself, else existing as the fungi set somewhere between the plant and animal kingdoms, born to play the role of recycler and bridge-builder […] serving the preservation and interconnectivity of every form of life living in the forest.

While passages like that evince an admirable enthusiasm for his fictional universe—an enthusiasm that is palpable and effective—the pile-on of description is often exhausting, reducing the impact of the beauty being described. Overall, however, OLD BLOOD is an exciting fantasy story set in a deeply-imagined fictional world. The mythology is fascinating and the characters are sharply observed, producing a story that’s difficult to predict and easy to enjoy.

Nick Jameson’s fantasy OLD BLOOD kicks off with promising energy and lushly-detailed storytelling.

~Jeff Somers for IndieReader

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