Reviews

The Bloodprint, by Ausma Zehanat Khan

nadinee24's review against another edition

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2.0

DNF at 284 of 425 pages

The Bloodprint sounds like such an awesome fantasy novel that revolves around kickass female characters and an in-depth use of religion all wrapped up with feminist tones. Unfortunately, The Bloodprint is a poorly written novel that is not what it’s advertised to be.

Within the first 120 pages the magic system is not properly explained. Their magic is derived from religious texts, but the connect between the two is never explained or how it came to be. The main character often uses and relies upon her magic, so it’s a central part of this novel that is left vague and confusing.

Khan has created an interesting world in that the women are forced to become slaves and a group of women who call themselves the Companions of Hira are trying to liberate the women and the world. Unfortunately, the Companions of Hira are also poorly written. Their order, formation, rank, and traditions are hardly touched upon and only explained when they relate directly to the plot. Khan wrote the Companions of Hira to feature a complex hierarchy with politics and infighting, however it all falls flat because of the lack of world building and character development.

Near the beginning of the novel, the reader is introduced to a male character that is described as handsome every time he’s introduced in a scene. It quickly becomes apparent that this male character and the main character have a complicated romantic history. Khan tried to create sexual and romantic tension between the two, but, unfortunately, it also falls flat. This is due in part to the writing itself. Khan’s writing style is pompous and overly poetic making it hard to connect to the characters and story.

Despite the very obvious feminist themes in the synopsis, the book has a hard time actually utilizing those themes and overtones. This is further hindered by the fact that male characters are used to further the plot and save the main character every time she finds herself backed into a corner with no apparent way out.

Overall, The Bloodprint is an absolute disappointment. I expected an intricate story about oppression, religion, and feminism, but instead received a poorly written novel with little to feminist tones and a boring main character.


The blurb on the front comparing this to N.K. Jemisin and George R.R. Martin is an insult to those amazing writers.

ladyredcomet's review

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adventurous challenging tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

2.5

jo_scribbles's review

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adventurous challenging dark emotional mysterious tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

4.0

 The Bloodprint by Ausma Zehanat Khan is a high fantasy I've had my eye on for quite a while now, and now I'm on a high fantasy kick, I've finally picked it up. While I found some aspects of the story confusing, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The Bloodprint is set in a world that has been taken over by the Talisman, followers of the One-Eyed Preacher who has twisted the Claim, the scriptures of the One, to suit his views. Women are subjugated and controlled by their fathers and husbands, and those without are captured by the Talisman's slave chains. Arian is the First Oralist of the Council of Hira, strong in the Claim, and a trained warrior. She has spent the last ten years chasing down slave chains and rescuing the women, killing their Talisman guards, in an attempt to find her sister, who was abducted when their parents were murdered, when Arian was a child. But now Arian has been set a task by the High Companion; rumours have been cropping up that the Bloodprint, a sacred magical text thought to be legendary, is real. It's the Companions of Hira's only hope in opposing the One-Eyed Preacher. Along with fellow Companion Sinnia and a young slave boy they freed, Wafa, Arain follows the rumours on the hunt for the Bloodprint, the journey leading to more revelations and other dangers, and questions about the High Companion's motives.

The Bloodprint dives in right from the very beginning, as Arian and Sinnia are about to attempt a rescue on a slave chain. I was completely fascinated by the world, though it enraged me, and fell in love with Arian and her quest pretty early on the mystery surrounding the search for the Bloodprint, as well as what is learnt and discovered along the way. However, there isn't much in the way of background with the world building. The world has existed under the rule of the One-Eyed Preacher for quite a while now, with the Council of Hira trying to oppose his rule. But I have no real idea who the Talisman are, other than people who were swayed by the One-Eyed Preacher’s interpretation of the Claim, where women must be subjugated, all writing destroyed, and reading not taught. Their history and that of the Preacher are unknown. I don't know where he sprung up from, why people listened to him, and how he was able to sway people. Equally, I don't know a huge amount about the Council of Hira. They're a religious order of women, known as Companions, who have an aptitude with the Claim, each with a different gift or speciality. There's no real history to the Council either; I've no idea how or why they formed, or when. we only know that they’re against the Talisman. The Companions are given Audacies - a task to help in the fight against the Talisman, but other than Arian, we never know what anyone else's Audacies are. Though we know what certain other Companions specialities are, we don't really know what they do. Honestly, the Council of Hira and the Talisman are a bit of a mystery to me.

Then there's the Claim itself. The Claim is scripture, but more than that, it's also magic that works through the spoken word of those with aptitude. They recite certain verses, the Claim building in their throats and released with their words; different verses have different effects. I thought this was so cool, and not like anything I've read before. We've all heard of "magic words," but this is different, especially with the words being scripture. Sometimes you it was easy to see what specific verses would do, because of their subject matter, but not always. We're never told Arian's plans before she starts speaking, so we don't know what her intentions are until we see the effects. However, not all effects match up to Arian's intentions, so it was great to see Arian's moral dilemma at times. Was the Claim actually a power for good? The sacred text, the Bloodprint, is the Claim written down, but books are few and far between, burned by the Talisman, books and reading illegal. But with effects of the Claim being surprising, Arian starts to question the Bloodprint, too. If she's able to find it, what will it lead to, if the Claim is questionable. And what are the High Companion's real intentions? There are things she's held back, information she's not revealed, it's only when Arian stumbles across certain things that she realises the High Companion knew of them. Why wasn't she fully informed and prepared for what her task was to entail?

I loved the journey and the quest itself, which I can't really talk too much about without giving away spoilers. It felt similar to plots I've seen before that I don't normally enjoy; where the protagonist has a taks, but obstacles are put in their way at every turn, obstacles they have to overcome before they can move on. Kind of stop-start, stop-start. It didn't bother me in The Bloodprint, though, because each obstacle was actually an opportunity to learn more about the world, to get certain answers, and unravel elements of finding the Bloodprint. There is mystery and riddles thrown in, locations and peoples thought to also be myth. It was just so gripping, and I loved travelling along with these characters, as well as meeting the other characters along the way.

However, I did have some other issues with it. The Bloodprint is written in third person, and for the most part, we follow Arian's perspective. But sometimes we get the perspectives of Sinnia, and Daniyar, an old acquaintance that joins the three on the journey, and very occasionally, Wafa, too. But the perspectives jump about with no clear indication as to who you’re currently with. It takes a few sentences to figure out if you’re with Arian as she witnesses another character react to something (or similar), or if you’re currently reading that character's perspective. There’s also some dialogue that we don’t see which is confusing. Are we getting someone’s thoughts, and we're now seeing their perspective? No, they said something, we just don’t get to see it. For example, the text will say something like, ‘Sinnia didn’t think they would be able to get through the Talisman guards and survive. Daniyar disagreed.’ And then Daniyar would voice his disagreement. But it’s not automatically clear whether Sinnia is thinking and we have access to her thoughts, or if she spoke out loud, and we don’t see what she actually said.

I have to say though despite The Bloodprint confusing me in numerous ways, I was fully engrossed in the story and the mystery. Honestly, I bloody loved it! And it ends on such a cliffhanger! Oh my god, that ending! So many twists! So many questions! So I bought myself a finished copy, and thankfully, I immediately bought the sequel, The Black Khan, which I'll be starting soon. I'm so looking forward to reading it, and seeing where Arian's story takes her next! 

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aseel_reads's review against another edition

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2.0

2.5

This was actually pretty confusing to read. It felt like we were dumped straight into the story and we didn't get much explanation for anything at all. The writing made the whole story/pacing feel really off. I liked the general plot but it took ages for it to happen and somehow not much actually happened. I appreciated the difficult the characters had for getting what they want, some fantasy stories make it too easy for them to achieve their plans. I should have expected the plot twist, it was pretty obvious, I just wasn't thinking. I have no clue where this story is going (not a good thing) but I think I will continue reading it

library_witch's review

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adventurous challenging dark emotional mysterious tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix

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zodevries's review

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adventurous challenging medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

2.0

alia0ftheknife's review against another edition

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adventurous dark emotional reflective tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes

3.5

tashayns's review against another edition

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adventurous dark
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes

3.0

dgrachel's review against another edition

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5.0

I truly don't have words eloquent enough to do this book justice. AZK said she loved writing it and the power of that love and care shines through like the power of the Claim. The world building is deftly woven into the story itself without large, clunky info-dumps. The writing is beautiful. The characters are well-developed and nuanced. As it is the first of the series, it doesn't resolve anything, and ends with a gut-wrenching cliff hanger. My heart is a lump in my throat. I cannot wait for the next book. It's official-I will read anything AZK writes. She's incredible. She's gives such depth and strength to her characters and her stories. Read this now. I need others to suffer the wait for book two with me.

luanam's review

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3.0

3.5
What I enjoyed about this novel was its beautiful prose, its intercultural feminism and its deliciously labyrinthian politics as played by one character in particular.
What didn't work so well for me was finding that the main character Arian, too often, seem to lack agency. Ironically, at times, the power of her voice, which entwines thematically with the story's concern regarding the power of the word and of the written word, did not have the oomph I expected it to. But then again, this may have given the novel a more subtle feel and the impediment is in me the reader.
Overall, I think this is a book that is very much going to work on different levels for different people.