The Emblazoned Red by Dawn McCullough White
Once, in another world—a dark world, the world of Faetta—there lived paladins and pirates, tyrants and scallywags, vampires and the undead. In this world a revolution is brewing. The royalty of Sieunes are in chains, and those priests and paladins who follow the holy word of the gods are under attack. In the west, the kingdom of Kellerhald receives the fleeing priests in their temples of the paladins of Silvius, god of the Sky.
Here, a young woman has just passed her tests to become a paladin. A pirate crew raids along the Azez Sea. An undead creature, wielding great power, roams the graveyard of Yetta. And a lost soul, crying out from beyond the veil, seeks out a pure hearted warrior to hear its plea.
Amid the turmoil of the revolution, Ilka’s mettle is tested. Rescued by pirates, she ends up with an unlikely ally: the pirate captain himself. The newly trained paladin finds herself collaborating with the undead, working with a vampire, and worst of all, longing for revenge against the man who has ignited the revolution in Sieunes: Francois Mond…
*I received a review copy as part of the blog tour.
I want to start by saying I really liked The Emblazoned Red. I thought it was well written, had a nice fast pace, and a lot of great conflict between multiple characters. But the reason I’m giving it three stars instead of four is because of the formatting.
Now it may be that the copy of the book reviewers receive is different from the one on sale, but either way, I found it frustrating reading my copy. For some reason, every chapter was repeated. So the book read something like, prologue, prologue, chapter 1, chapter 1, chapter 2, chapter 2, and so on. This was a little confusing, and it really took me out of the story. I often found myself engrossed in the book, and I would forget which chapter I was in. Then, when I started reading a new chapter, it would take me a while to realize I had already read that chapter and I had to work hard to get back into the story.
Formatting issues aside, I enjoyed The Emblazoned Red. The prologue threw me off a little because I thought this book would be just about vampires, but I was pleasantly surprised to read about Ilka the paladin’s journey and her personal struggle with grief. I liked that she is a strong female protagonist, and her story alone was compelling. On a side note, it did feel a little weird reading about Ilka, an 18-year-old girl, having sex with the 41-year-old pirate Nate Sutton. But their relationship was well drawn out and I think White did a good job of showing Ilka fighting with her feelings and Nate caring and protecting her.
There were other complex characters who can easily be expanded upon in the series. I’m curious to learn more about Augustine, the vampire, and Sylain the draughr. Personally I like when different types of magical and undead beings are brought together.
It did take me some time to fully understand the backstory of Ilka and Cameo, but The Emblazoned Red is related to White’s Trilogy of Shadows series, so I think this series can have more leeway.
A lot happened in this relatively short book, and at times I wish it had been expanded. On one hand, it felt like there were many chapters that ended with a big revelation or emotional scene, and then the next chapter just started with Ilka waking up. On the other hand, I liked the fast pace and I think a lot of times readers get attached to certain characters and storylines so they may think they want more when really they already have the perfect amount. I’m torn.
Overall, I’d recommend reading The Emblazoned Red. It’s fun and I did end up finishing it in one sitting, which shows how captivating it is, even with the formatting issues. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series, and in the meantime, I may just have to get my fix with the Trilogy of Shadows.
Published: May 28, 2013, ~240 pages