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The Blood Trials

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Blending fantasy and science fiction, N. E. Davenport's fast-paced, action-packed debut kicks off a duology of loyalty and rebellion, in which a young Black woman must survive deadly trials in a racist and misogynistic society to become an elite warrior. It's all about blood. The blood spilled between the Republic of Mareen and the armies of the Blood Emperor long ago. The b Blending fantasy and science fiction, N. E. Davenport's fast-paced, action-packed debut kicks off a duology of loyalty and rebellion, in which a young Black woman must survive deadly trials in a racist and misogynistic society to become an elite warrior. It's all about blood. The blood spilled between the Republic of Mareen and the armies of the Blood Emperor long ago. The blood gifts of Mareen's deadliest enemies. The blood that runs through the elite War Houses of Mareen, the rulers of the Tribunal dedicated to keeping the republic alive. The blood of the former Legatus, Verne Amari, murdered. For his granddaughter, Ikenna, the only thing steady in her life was the man who had saved Mareen. The man who had trained her in secret, not just in martial skills, but in harnessing the blood gift that coursed through her. Who trained her to keep that a secret. But now there are too many secrets, and with her grandfather assassinated, Ikenna knows two things: that only someone on the Tribunal could have ordered his death, and that only a Praetorian Guard could have carried out that order. Bent on revenge as much as discovering the truth, Ikenna pledges herself to the Praetorian Trials--a brutal initiation that only a quarter of the aspirants survive. She subjects herself to the racism directed against her half-Khanaian heritage and the misogyny of a society that cherishes progeny over prodigy, all while hiding a power that--if found out--would subject her to execution...or worse. Ikenna is willing to risk it all because she needs to find out who murdered her grandfather...and then she needs to kill them. Mareen has been at peace for a long time... Ikenna joining the Praetorians is about to change all that. Magic and technology converge in the first part of this stunning debut duology, where loyalty to oneself--and one's blood--is more important than anything.


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Blending fantasy and science fiction, N. E. Davenport's fast-paced, action-packed debut kicks off a duology of loyalty and rebellion, in which a young Black woman must survive deadly trials in a racist and misogynistic society to become an elite warrior. It's all about blood. The blood spilled between the Republic of Mareen and the armies of the Blood Emperor long ago. The b Blending fantasy and science fiction, N. E. Davenport's fast-paced, action-packed debut kicks off a duology of loyalty and rebellion, in which a young Black woman must survive deadly trials in a racist and misogynistic society to become an elite warrior. It's all about blood. The blood spilled between the Republic of Mareen and the armies of the Blood Emperor long ago. The blood gifts of Mareen's deadliest enemies. The blood that runs through the elite War Houses of Mareen, the rulers of the Tribunal dedicated to keeping the republic alive. The blood of the former Legatus, Verne Amari, murdered. For his granddaughter, Ikenna, the only thing steady in her life was the man who had saved Mareen. The man who had trained her in secret, not just in martial skills, but in harnessing the blood gift that coursed through her. Who trained her to keep that a secret. But now there are too many secrets, and with her grandfather assassinated, Ikenna knows two things: that only someone on the Tribunal could have ordered his death, and that only a Praetorian Guard could have carried out that order. Bent on revenge as much as discovering the truth, Ikenna pledges herself to the Praetorian Trials--a brutal initiation that only a quarter of the aspirants survive. She subjects herself to the racism directed against her half-Khanaian heritage and the misogyny of a society that cherishes progeny over prodigy, all while hiding a power that--if found out--would subject her to execution...or worse. Ikenna is willing to risk it all because she needs to find out who murdered her grandfather...and then she needs to kill them. Mareen has been at peace for a long time... Ikenna joining the Praetorians is about to change all that. Magic and technology converge in the first part of this stunning debut duology, where loyalty to oneself--and one's blood--is more important than anything.

30 review for The Blood Trials

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ms. Woc Reader

    At first this story starts out feeling very YA, which makes sense because the characters are teenagers. But this is not a YA fantasy and this book doesn't hold back. It's their last night out before they set out for military academy and Ikenna is on edge over the recent loss of her grandfather. After learning his death was no accident she decides to head to the academy and avenge his death by finding out who his killers are. At this military academy thousands are competing for a spot on the speci At first this story starts out feeling very YA, which makes sense because the characters are teenagers. But this is not a YA fantasy and this book doesn't hold back. It's their last night out before they set out for military academy and Ikenna is on edge over the recent loss of her grandfather. After learning his death was no accident she decides to head to the academy and avenge his death by finding out who his killers are. At this military academy thousands are competing for a spot on the special ops team in a fight to the death. I really didn't expect this book to go as dark and detail in the violence as it did especially with the type of cover they chose. It's a matter of survive or die for Ikenna and crew as they face a series of harsh challenges meant to kill the weakest of the lot. Levity comes through the modern dialogue with familiar slang and the moments between Ikenna and her friends where they can talk about relationships and memories and aspirations. Ikenna has a magical gift bestowed upon her from the gods of their enemies, that she must hide while also using it to keep herself alive as her mixed heritage makes her a target. She is hot-headed and quick to move without reflecting on the harm her selfish choices will cost others. But instead of ignoring it this book forces her to face the ramifications of her actions each time. Easy to read and comprehend, this book is a great transition read for readers interested in reading more adult SFF that still has a young feel to it. I thought the world was interesting and I liked how it was expanding as we got closer to the end. There were several twists and turns I didn't see coming at first. My biggest gripe would be that the author harps on pointing out that everything is either because of racism or misogyny. Readers are able to tell from character actions and don't need the constant reminder. There also could've been a little more nuance in the racism discussions. Chapter one is very lengthy which might deter readers at first but the story finds it's footing once you move past it. See full review here https://womenofcolorreadtoo.blogspot.... Video review https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vWTgX...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Bethany

    Review Video: https://youtu.be/MUK0C1CEoWY Fans of Red Rising take note! The Blood Trials needs to be on your radar. This gritty, action-packed, sci-fantasy debut was everything I was hoping for. (Note that this is ADULT fiction, not YA with high levels of violence) Ikenna is the granddaughter of the Legatus of the Mareenian Empire. Not only does she face vitriolic racism as a minority, but she is also a hiding a dangerous secret - forbidden blood magic. When her grandfather is assassinated, she e Review Video: https://youtu.be/MUK0C1CEoWY Fans of Red Rising take note! The Blood Trials needs to be on your radar. This gritty, action-packed, sci-fantasy debut was everything I was hoping for. (Note that this is ADULT fiction, not YA with high levels of violence) Ikenna is the granddaughter of the Legatus of the Mareenian Empire. Not only does she face vitriolic racism as a minority, but she is also a hiding a dangerous secret - forbidden blood magic. When her grandfather is assassinated, she enrolls in a brutal military training academy for elite Praetorian warriors. So brutal that only a fraction of her class will survive training. Because she is one of few women and a minority, people want Ikenna dead. But she will do whatever it takes to uncover who assassinated her grandfather, and then wreak vengeance on the perpetrators. This is an impressive debut and I truly hope it takes off and the right readers find it. Thematically and in terms of action and brutal twists this book has a lot in common with Red Rising, even while being something all its own. Ikenna can be a stubborn hothead, but she is also a survivor and I loved her as a character. She must survive trial after trial, not to mention conducting a secret investigation. The book ends with a major bang and I CANNOT WAIT for book 2! Note that the racial and gender inequality Ikenna deals with are central to the book. This does a great job of parsing these issues, and even includes a case of "passing" where a biracial character looks enough like the majority race as to gain privilege. There are more spoilery events that also mirror real world issues in interesting ways as well, but I will leave them for you to find out. If I had and quibbles with this it's that I would like to know a little more about the social structures of the world and the magic system. But honestly I loved this. If this sounds up your alley go preorder it! I received an advance copy of this book for review via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Claude's Bookzone

    This is exactly why I don't like reading book 1 when book 2 doesn't exist yet! 2023 is a long way off. I will be honest and say that at several points during the first half I contemplated quitting but I am thrilled that I held on. I found the author to be a bit heavy handed in establishing this world as having nasty levels of racial hatred and misogyny. The actions were clear enough without having it then pointed out to us that those people were just being racist or sexist. It is a super long aud This is exactly why I don't like reading book 1 when book 2 doesn't exist yet! 2023 is a long way off. I will be honest and say that at several points during the first half I contemplated quitting but I am thrilled that I held on. I found the author to be a bit heavy handed in establishing this world as having nasty levels of racial hatred and misogyny. The actions were clear enough without having it then pointed out to us that those people were just being racist or sexist. It is a super long audiobook. Eighteen hours! It was incredibly well read which helped the time fly by. Interestingly, it had a lot of peaks throughout. You'd be all caught up in the tense action and it would feel worthy of a book ending climax only to find that there are still 15 hours of the book left. Rinse and repeat. There was a lot going on in this book in terms of the different factions, peoples and the world itself and I need a few things clarified. The second half of the novel was gripping with an ending that was satisfying but definitely left me excited for book 2. Thoroughly enjoyable. CW: Lots of violence, blood and death, sexual content, racism, misogyny, loss of loved ones.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Bibi

    **Spoilers** The world-building is wholly inadequate and the magic system is scarcely better. I don’t like our heroine, Ikenna, nor do I care one hoot whether she succeeds in her mission to discover who killed her grandfather. Lastly, the story has no urgency partly because we see the story through Kenna’s perspective which felt like ascending a multi-floor spiral stairwell. Yes, there was momentum, but it was constrained and restricted and wasn't completely fleshed out. **Spoilers** The world-building is wholly inadequate and the magic system is scarcely better. I don’t like our heroine, Ikenna, nor do I care one hoot whether she succeeds in her mission to discover who killed her grandfather. Lastly, the story has no urgency partly because we see the story through Kenna’s perspective which felt like ascending a multi-floor spiral stairwell. Yes, there was momentum, but it was constrained and restricted and wasn't completely fleshed out.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)

    3.0 Stars This is a gritty ownvoices sci fantasy that addresses issues surrounding race and prejudice. While this takes place in a futuristic setting, the story also involves magic, which makes this an interesting genre crossover. This debut novel is marketed as adult fiction, yet it read more like young adult. I've seen other readers balk at that comparison. Yes, the content is dark in nature. Yes, the characters drop f-bombs. However, none of that changes the fact that the tone and characters m 3.0 Stars This is a gritty ownvoices sci fantasy that addresses issues surrounding race and prejudice. While this takes place in a futuristic setting, the story also involves magic, which makes this an interesting genre crossover. This debut novel is marketed as adult fiction, yet it read more like young adult. I've seen other readers balk at that comparison. Yes, the content is dark in nature. Yes, the characters drop f-bombs. However, none of that changes the fact that the tone and characters make this feel like YA. Inappropriate YA, but still YA. Being appropriate for a younger audience and being written in a YA style are two different things in my books. If you enjoy both adult and young adult science fiction, then you will likely enjoy this one. If you, like myself, have a strong preference for adult fiction, then it may not work for you.

  6. 4 out of 5

    ♥Milica♥

    CAN I MARRY THIS COVER OMG LOOK AT IT I'M IN LOVE CAN I MARRY THIS COVER OMG LOOK AT IT I'M IN LOVE

  7. 5 out of 5

    charlotte,

    On my blog. Rep: Black mc, biracial character CWs: violence, gore, torture Galley provided by publisher The Blood Trials is an apt name for this book. Brutal and bloody in the best way, this one doesn’t hold its punches. Think Red Rising and you might have an idea of how that goes. The book opens with a bar fight and that gives you a sense of how it’ll continue. We follow Ikenna Amari as she joins the Praetorians for a chance to investigate and avenge her grandfather’s murder. Ikenna is headstron On my blog. Rep: Black mc, biracial character CWs: violence, gore, torture Galley provided by publisher The Blood Trials is an apt name for this book. Brutal and bloody in the best way, this one doesn’t hold its punches. Think Red Rising and you might have an idea of how that goes. The book opens with a bar fight and that gives you a sense of how it’ll continue. We follow Ikenna Amari as she joins the Praetorians for a chance to investigate and avenge her grandfather’s murder. Ikenna is headstrong and impulsive and, even as you wince over some of her decisions, a character you can’t help but root for. This is a book that throws you straight into the action. It doesn’t dwell on worldbuilding as much so, at times, it does feel a bit light touch on that, but if, like me, you’re a fan of action-packed novels over ponderous infodumps, this is the book for you. In part, the lack of focus on the outside world is perhaps indicative of Ikenna’s—for want of a better word—self-centeredness. Ikenna is entirely focused on getting revenge and on herself (as illustrated by a particular scene during the training) and, as you’re in her POV, it makes sense to have less information about everything else. As much as I may have wanted a little more… What The Blood Trials pulled off well, though, was making you root for a character who, as I said, is pretty selfish. Because why wouldn’t she only care about herself when there are people in her training class who are actively trying to kill her? When she lives in a society that hates her? So it was a kind of self-preservation induced selfishness. As I said, though, there are scenes that make it clear that she’s not always allowed to get away with it. Which was where the good balance came in. If there were any issues I had, however, it’s that Ikenna seems overpowered in relation to the world she’s in. There are, I think, two specific points here: first, that she has some very useful healing powers. This alone wouldn’t be a problem, but given how brutal this book is and how much rests on that brutality, it kind of lessens the impact it has. Ikenna is, really, never in that much danger, because she’ll always heal pretty much overnight. The second is that she has this power to compel people, and then make them forget she ever did a thing, which seems like it could have resolved a few things quicker than they get resolved. (I mean, if she can compel people and then make them forget it, what’s stopping her from taking over the country? She can make people forget anything she wants, she doesn’t need to hide her power so hard, surely.) It would have made more sense to me if she was struggling to control it, or struggling to strengthen it throughout, so that the ending involves her coming into her power. Instead, she had all of this training and practice with her grandfather, even before the book started. What was stopping Ikenna in her quest for justice was only her prejudices and assumptions, which I suppose is a point you could make. But given the situation at the end of the book, I think she needed more checks on her power throughout than she had (although she did have some). However, despite this perhaps kind of big sticking point, I had fun reading this book. It was 460+ pages, and yet it flew by. In the end, it’s definitely a book, and an author, to watch out for.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ayushi (bookwormbullet)

    That was freaking phenomenal

  9. 4 out of 5

    Read

    This was one of my anticipated 2022 reads and it definitely lived up to the hype. From page one we follow Ikenna on her journey of grief and vengeance. Ikenna's grandfather has died and we later on discover that it's believed that he actually was murdered. After she is told this and the possibility of who is thought to be behind his assassination, Ikenna decides to join the Praetorian Trials to discover who played a hand in his assassination and avenge him. As we follow Ikenna's journey we also l This was one of my anticipated 2022 reads and it definitely lived up to the hype. From page one we follow Ikenna on her journey of grief and vengeance. Ikenna's grandfather has died and we later on discover that it's believed that he actually was murdered. After she is told this and the possibility of who is thought to be behind his assassination, Ikenna decides to join the Praetorian Trials to discover who played a hand in his assassination and avenge him. As we follow Ikenna's journey we also learn that she is also dealing with a secret of her own. She has a forbidden gift of blood magic. I really enjoyed the fast paced storyline, fighting and how the story deals with consequences. I think this is the perfect "crossover" book for YA readers who want to start reading Adult SFF. So many of my favorite parts of this book are spoilers and I enjoyed the unpredictable twists. This book does also deals with a heavy amount of graphic violence, racism, prejudice, class (privilege) and misogyny. The story ended on the perfect note and left me wanting more. I am ready for the sequel! Thank you to Netgalley and Harper Voyager for providing me with this ARC. All opinions are my own.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘

    I had such a great time with The Blood Trials! Unflinchingly gruesome and yet so full of heart, it grips you from the start and never lets go—I did wish Ikenna, the mc, wouldn't be so quick to jump to conclusions, especially in the first half, BUT at the same time it's part of who she is as a character and given the cards she's been dealt and the gross bigotry and racism she's had to face since childhood? It's entirely understandable, and I loved her. Now after that ending? I can't wait to get m I had such a great time with The Blood Trials! Unflinchingly gruesome and yet so full of heart, it grips you from the start and never lets go—I did wish Ikenna, the mc, wouldn't be so quick to jump to conclusions, especially in the first half, BUT at the same time it's part of who she is as a character and given the cards she's been dealt and the gross bigotry and racism she's had to face since childhood? It's entirely understandable, and I loved her. Now after that ending? I can't wait to get my hands on the sequel!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Chantaal

    The Blood Trials is definitely bloody and fierce and full of rage and I really liked it despite some issues I had. Overall, this was a very strong debut in an interesting world. I loved the set up of this world and our main character Ikenna. Right off the bat, we know that she's dealing with a full deck stacked against her, and most of the book is her dealing with a very violent gauntlet to become a top tier soldier in her country's military. On top of her training, Ikenna is also trying to figu The Blood Trials is definitely bloody and fierce and full of rage and I really liked it despite some issues I had. Overall, this was a very strong debut in an interesting world. I loved the set up of this world and our main character Ikenna. Right off the bat, we know that she's dealing with a full deck stacked against her, and most of the book is her dealing with a very violent gauntlet to become a top tier soldier in her country's military. On top of her training, Ikenna is also trying to figure out who in the government would have wanted her beloved grandfather killed, and she is also hiding a gift of Blood Magic, something reviled in her country due to its use in a past war by an invading country. Ikenna's trials and tribulations: awesome. The ridiculously violent training that leads to hundreds of young people being murdered: awesome. Ridiculous, but awesome. (view spoiler)[The awful interlude where you have to sit through her watching cannibals roast and eat a fellow student (hide spoiler)] : violent, disgusting, and a great indicator of where this book firmly sits. It irritates me so much that marketing + people's misconceptions of ~women writing fantasy must mean its young adult~ + the cover are causing people to either undervalue or misrepresent this book. It's a very violent, very adult, very messy piece of sci-fi that's pretty damn good. Davenport's writing itself is great, putting us firmly in Ikenna's head in a way that had me furiously irritated both on her behalf and because of her dumbass emotionally-driven decision making. The world created here was solid, except for one thing and that's my main gripe out of this book: the racism Ikenna experiences made NO SENSE, geopolitically. I understand it doesn't take much for one people to consider themselves better than another and treat them like dirt, but with the way the world and the history of the continent is setup I just didn't buy it. There wasn't enough backstory given for me to see WHY the racism is so inherent in this country. They were hella racist and that was that. I liked it as a theme for Ikenna's story, but once we moved from the military academy stuff into the political maneuvering and actually had the characters visit the neighboring country that is all Black peoples (it's basically Wakanda, I love it), my suspension of disbelief was gone. It made no sense to me. I will definitely be reading book two because I love where this ended and where it'll be going. I can get over my issues in time, because this was just so good overall. A great debut. ++++++ April 28: I've read two chapters so far and can already tell that the curse of "woman writing fantasy/sci-fi = YA" has already struck. This is DEFINITELY not YA.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Caitie

    I represent the book so I am biased, but it is in the top three fantasy books I’ve ever read. And my favorite protagonist. Yes, she’s even better than Mia Corvere.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Natasha Leighton

    The Blood Trials is an action packed sci-fi fantasy that perfectly blends magic and technology in this deliciously gritty, vengeance-filled debut (a first in a new duology) from the exceptionally talented N.E Davenport. I have to admit I’m a bit of a sucker for books centred around revenge seeking, badass female warriors especially when there’s magic or forbidden abilities involved and I can honestly say this did not disappoint. The action was thoroughly gripping and the constant threat of death The Blood Trials is an action packed sci-fi fantasy that perfectly blends magic and technology in this deliciously gritty, vengeance-filled debut (a first in a new duology) from the exceptionally talented N.E Davenport. I have to admit I’m a bit of a sucker for books centred around revenge seeking, badass female warriors especially when there’s magic or forbidden abilities involved and I can honestly say this did not disappoint. The action was thoroughly gripping and the constant threat of death to our impulsive protagonist. As someone used to the gut wrenching plot twists after years of reading S.J Maas’ work, I have to say I was not expecting to feel so emotionally invested in soo many characters so early in the book, not all of whom make the last page unscathed. I’m in awe of Davenport’s skill, I can’t believe this is only a debut! I would also like to state that this is an Adult Fantasy and NOT a YA - and contains some really dark and graphic scenes of violence that might put some people off. But, if you like your fantasy with a side of danger, bloody skirmishes and backstabbing —then you’re going to absolutely love this! Davenport’s attention of detail in the world building and richly drawn characters was incredible. We’re introduced to a world (and society) that has developed through bloody wars, racism and oppression which, despite the fantastical creatures, forbidden magic and alien (planet) setting still feels all to familiar to the real world — with racist, misogynistic and classist attitudes that oftentimes mirror aspects of our own society, with characters whose experiences and motivations are incredibly easy to relate to. I really liked Ikenna, our badass but reckless protagonist, who definitely kept me on the edge of my seat with her unpredictability. Her friends (Selene and Zayne) were just as likeable and I really enjoyed getting to know them and the other characters she becomes friendlier with during her training —in particular Dannica who’s personality really begins to shine in the second half of the book and Reed, Ikenna’s Byronic frenemy/ love interest. Speaking of Reed, I really liked the development of his character and thought his dynamics with Ikenna were tension-filled and thoroughly enjoyable, I can’t wait to see how things develop in the sequel. The plot was honestly really well developed and I honestly loved the mystery aspect of things, trying to work out who murdered Ikenna’s grandfather and we are given quite a few suspects which I definitely felt kept things interesting and you’ll be pleased to know the culprit is eventually revealed and the outcome for it is really satisfying. Overall, this is an undeniably addictive and plot-twisty book that will definitely appeal to fans of The Gilded Ones and Blood Scion or anyone new to the adult sci-fi fantasy genre. After how things wrapped up (in explosive plot twisty fashion) I’m now desperately eager to get my hands on the sequel! Also, a huge thank you to Anne Cater (of Random Things Tours) and Harper Voyager for this incredible ARC.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sana

    'N.E. Davenport's The Praetorian Trials, a duology about a young Black woman who must survive deadly trials to become an elite warrior while solving her grandfather's murder, fighting a racist and misogynistic society and keeping her magical blood gift a secret.' There's also: '- Murder, feuds & brawls - Deadly old world magic vs new world war tech - A Black woman who is the best of both worlds - Blood magic - Lethal warriors not all aligned to the same side' \O/ Source 'N.E. Davenport's The Praetorian Trials, a duology about a young Black woman who must survive deadly trials to become an elite warrior while solving her grandfather's murder, fighting a racist and misogynistic society and keeping her magical blood gift a secret.' There's also: '- Murder, feuds & brawls - Deadly old world magic vs new world war tech - A Black woman who is the best of both worlds - Blood magic - Lethal warriors not all aligned to the same side' \O/ Source

  15. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    Thank you to B2 Weird Bookclub and Harper Voyager for an arc in exchange for an honest review and promotion. All opinions are my own. 4.5/5 Y’all this book took me on a ride. This was so bloody, but I loved it all! The Blood Trials is an immersive, bloody military fantasy that follows Ikenna Amari. She has just graduated her training and is planning to take time off to grieve the loss of her beloved Grandfather. When she learns he was murdered, she decides to pledge to the Praetorians to find out Thank you to B2 Weird Bookclub and Harper Voyager for an arc in exchange for an honest review and promotion. All opinions are my own. 4.5/5 Y’all this book took me on a ride. This was so bloody, but I loved it all! The Blood Trials is an immersive, bloody military fantasy that follows Ikenna Amari. She has just graduated her training and is planning to take time off to grieve the loss of her beloved Grandfather. When she learns he was murdered, she decides to pledge to the Praetorians to find out who killed him. But she’ll only find out if she survives the fatal trial process. There is so much action in this story, and a shit ton of graphic and violent content. I loved going on this journey with Ikenna. She was a character I enjoyed getting to know. She doesn’t have everything figured out, but she has a goal in mind and nothing will stop her from getting there. The magic and world building was really well done. There are so many cool parts to the societies to explore and I cannot wait to learn more about them all in the sequel! I really hope we get to see more of the other countries besides Mareen, because I am so curious about them all. Especially Ikenna's friendship with the Crown Prince. I need more details Ikenna! Overall, I highly recommend this book. Rep: Biracial Black cishet female MC, white cishet female side character, biracial cishet male side character, various Black male side characters. CWs: Racism, racial slurs, xenophobia, violence, gore, blood, injury/injury detail, cursing, death, cannibalism, misogyny, sexual content (on page and discussions), classism, sexism, grief, war, bullying/hazing, torture, murder, death of grandparent/parent, gun violence, medical content. Moderate: vomit, alcohol, alcoholism, confinement, gaslighting, colonisation, genocide, abandonment.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Raynee

    Thank you Harper Collins publishing for an advance copy of this book I am choosing to leave this review Magic and technology converge in the first part of this stunning debut duology, where loyalty to oneself—and one’s blood—is more important than anything. Okay problem number one is the first book isn't even out yet and I am already hyped for the next one. The blood trials is fast paced and full of action. I never felt bored or confused why a scene was happening it all made sense for the story l Thank you Harper Collins publishing for an advance copy of this book I am choosing to leave this review Magic and technology converge in the first part of this stunning debut duology, where loyalty to oneself—and one’s blood—is more important than anything. Okay problem number one is the first book isn't even out yet and I am already hyped for the next one. The blood trials is fast paced and full of action. I never felt bored or confused why a scene was happening it all made sense for the story line to move along. The magic system was well described and allows for enough mystery for you to connect the dots together to figure out some of the major plot points. Ikenna is a strong willed protagonist that you are constantly routing for. She is a character that is constantly making bad choices and you get to see not only the gain from these actions, but also the consequences of those actions. Ikenna has an incredible group of friends that you can't help but also love! Davenport introduces you to many characters along the way that you can't help but route for. One big thing to clarify is that this book is NA/Adult and should be checked for TW there are some gruesome moments that are fully described (its honestly amazing). The world building is strong and vibrant! You felt like you are genuinely apart of the world and it was interesting to see the different aspects of our society reflected back into the book. I think it is important to point out that although the book reflects some of the heavy topics that our world faces today, Davenport does not make you feel like you are reading a book on todays present world. Each conflict mentioned is a valid way to drive the plot. Some of the real world reflections are: politics, racism, and sexism.

  17. 4 out of 5

    theblackbookworm

    ***THIS IS AN ADULT BOOK*** Content Warning: graphic depictions of violence/blood/gore, racism, sexism, gaslighting, grief/loss of a family member, cannibalism any book with an ounce of Black girl magic is an instant buy for me. with that being said, THE BLOOD TRIALS is easily a top read of the year for me and is the second book i read where i went through all the emotions: happiness, anger, disgust, sadness, fear, and everything in between. the world building of Mareen, the lore and legends of g ***THIS IS AN ADULT BOOK*** Content Warning: graphic depictions of violence/blood/gore, racism, sexism, gaslighting, grief/loss of a family member, cannibalism any book with an ounce of Black girl magic is an instant buy for me. with that being said, THE BLOOD TRIALS is easily a top read of the year for me and is the second book i read where i went through all the emotions: happiness, anger, disgust, sadness, fear, and everything in between. the world building of Mareen, the lore and legends of gods of the past, the amazing main character, the complex relationships with supporting characters, the political intrigue of all the governments…it’s quite literally the perfect blend of sci-fi and fantasy from my perspective. i cant wait to request the arc for book 2 because i gotta know where a certain relationship ends up for fans of the hunger games and the poppy war trilogy, i’d HIGHLY recommend this book. thank you so much HarperVoyagerUS and Netgalley for the e-arc in exchange for a review!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Adah Udechukwu

    I really enjoyed The Blood Trials. It exceeded my expectations.

  19. 4 out of 5

    elhyza

    —Thank you to Harper Voyager for providing an e-arc via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. the blood trials was a solid intriguing debut that i found pulled in with its futuristic imperial war and roman empire lore aspects. we follow kenna who goes into deep grief losing her grandfather one of the elite warriors until she finds out he was assassinated and decides to investigate. by this she goes for the dream she shared with her grandfather with was joining the praetorian ranks, being an —Thank you to Harper Voyager for providing an e-arc via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. the blood trials was a solid intriguing debut that i found pulled in with its futuristic imperial war and roman empire lore aspects. we follow kenna who goes into deep grief losing her grandfather one of the elite warriors until she finds out he was assassinated and decides to investigate. by this she goes for the dream she shared with her grandfather with was joining the praetorian ranks, being an aspirant she is then put through trials in order to join. davenport does a stunning job conveying themes of racism, prejudice, truths of war, and classism along with the depth of kenna's grief and how she pushes past obstacles thrown her way constantly. i enjoyed how flawed, impulsive and rash kenna is unapologetically as it leaves room for her development through the story and one we'll get to see up until the next and final book. the forbidden magic element in the society added even more to the plot as kenna's power could be even beyond everyone else's, but keeping it a secret along with dealing with the bigotry thrown away is a lot for her mindset. the story starts out slow with world building taking place as in any fantasy, but once it picks up seeing kenna go through the trials is quite thrilling! after that ending im very much looking forward to where the story goes and how it will all conclude!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Amivi

    Thank you Harper Voyager and NetGalley for an arc, here is my honest review. TW/CW: Sexism, Violence, blood, gore, sexual content(on page), war, death of parents, torture Give me book 2 now!! The blood trails put me through so much stress and I loved every second of it. This was an anticipated release of mine and is the first adult black fantasy book I’ve read and I was disappointed. Everything about this book is bloody and violent. The author doesn’t hold back about details on violence or racis Thank you Harper Voyager and NetGalley for an arc, here is my honest review. TW/CW: Sexism, Violence, blood, gore, sexual content(on page), war, death of parents, torture Give me book 2 now!! The blood trails put me through so much stress and I loved every second of it. This was an anticipated release of mine and is the first adult black fantasy book I’ve read and I was disappointed. Everything about this book is bloody and violent. The author doesn’t hold back about details on violence or racism/sexism. Ikenna is one of the best female characters I’ve read in a while. She never holds back and at times makes rash and selfish choices that she deals with throughout the book. None of the female characters hold back and instead push toward even with all the sexism thrown their way. There is also a small romance plot line that doesn’t take away from the main focus of the story. If you’re looking for a fantasy/sci-fi book that’s like blood scion but adult, then The Blood Trials is the perfect book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Veronique

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. A big thanks to NetGalley and Harper Voyage for providing me with an unedited E-ARC of The Blood Trials to read and review. I do have a lot to say, so here we go: There are many strong points of this story that I really liked such as the interesting story and world-building, a strong woman of color as the main character dealing with racism and proving herself despite it, and a very vivid sex scene (that I was NOT prepared for but still enjoyed though I don't think was necessary). Also, I really l A big thanks to NetGalley and Harper Voyage for providing me with an unedited E-ARC of The Blood Trials to read and review. I do have a lot to say, so here we go: There are many strong points of this story that I really liked such as the interesting story and world-building, a strong woman of color as the main character dealing with racism and proving herself despite it, and a very vivid sex scene (that I was NOT prepared for but still enjoyed though I don't think was necessary). Also, I really loved the cover which I thought was gorgeous and really enticing and made me want to read the book even more than the blurb alone. However, though I'm very happy I finished this book, I have to say that the first half was SO hard to get through. The constant repetitive introspection of the main character was SO hard to get over, I get that she was obsessing over what happened to her grandfather but I don't get why the reader had to read over and over the same information we were given at the start. Not only, but there are major info-dumps and an excessive amount of details placed on the weapons that the characters use that I really didn't enjoy or care reading about. There were also major grammatical errors and plot holes that I really hope they fix since I got an unedited version (such as a Comm Unit going "missing" when Kenna goes to snoop around Chanse's and Reed's room that she clearly had on her when she left Chanse's room). There were parts where the story lulled to a near-complete stop and then suddenly we had an action scene, and again and again. I really hope that this problem is fixed in the completed and edited version because it is a very nice story and I really like Kenna as a character, but the potential the story has isn't coming out just yet. Though I liked this part as I stated above (once I adjusted to it) I was not prepared for the sex scene that was presented to me so suddenly and I think the book could have done without it altogether. I started the book thinking it was a YA novel and there was nothing in the description to make me believe any differently, so this threw me off kilt a bit. Thus, if you're reading this, know that it's more of a New Adult (NA) story than it is YA. I also wish there was more of an introduction to Enoch than there actually was, because of his and his family's appearance in the story towards the end, even though he's "mentioned" very briefly at the beginning, made it feel like a new/different story altogether. As if book 1 was supposed to end at the end of the Praetorian training and book 2 were to start where she is an actual Praetorian, but that would leave the reader with too many unanswered questions which would do the book more harm than good, so that wouldn't work. Thus a better introduction to Enoch's importance to the story and weaving his existence/importance throughout the first half of the book would make that starch difference feel a little less jarring. It was during the second part of the story that the action stops lulling as much and it gets really interesting to read and I found myself really wishing it didn't end when it did. The storyline gets much more adrenaline-inducing and interesting to follow and the characters' personalities really come out. I do look forward to reading book 2 despite this version I've read so far only being "ok." And I'm giving it a 3-star review because the last 35% of the book was good and I felt that it sort of made up for the first 65% of it being so slow if you can get through it. I want to read book 2 but I definitely think that it needs some serious work in the first 65% of the book. Once the book is published, I intend to read it again to see if there were any edits made so I can update my review to be correct to the current version of the book.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Charmaine Morgan

    I was really looking forward to this book which is why I am so frustrated in my reading experience. There were things I liked about The Blood Trials in regards to plot and the world Davenport created however the execution in the storytelling really hindered my enjoyment. I wish Davenport had trusted her readers more with being able to identify themes, motivations, schemes without having to explain them in vivid detail(and often repetitively). There was a large amount of info dumping and narrativ I was really looking forward to this book which is why I am so frustrated in my reading experience. There were things I liked about The Blood Trials in regards to plot and the world Davenport created however the execution in the storytelling really hindered my enjoyment. I wish Davenport had trusted her readers more with being able to identify themes, motivations, schemes without having to explain them in vivid detail(and often repetitively). There was a large amount of info dumping and narrative hand holding in this book, which may be a good thing for younger readers but I was under the guise this is an adult fantasy. Normally I can overlook some info dumping but the way it was done was either through Ikenna’s internal dialogue or awkwardly long conversations where things are overly explained. Frequently these conversations or internal dialogues are happening in the middle of an important event which I found unnatural. I wish The Blood Trials would have done more showing and less telling and trusted us as readers to infer the rest. My final rating is 3⭐️’s as I did like the plot that unfolded in this book and I’m curious enough to want to see how it all ends. I hope Davenport continues to improve and perfect her craft as I believe there is definitely potential here. #bookreview #bookstagram #blacksff #thebloodtrials

  23. 5 out of 5

    VICTORIA EDWARDS

    SEQUEL PLEASE. Also Harper Collins? I’m gonna kiss you. I love you for indulging me and sending me a copy. I’d been wining about it for a while so I died when it was delivered to my door step. Aaaaanways… I reply enjoyed The Blood Trials like I thought I would. Ikenna was such a hot headed bad-ass protagonist. I fucking adored her and her anger. I liked how unpredictable and reckless she was because I didn’t always know what she was planning. She was a protagonist that sort of kept me on my toes. S SEQUEL PLEASE. Also Harper Collins? I’m gonna kiss you. I love you for indulging me and sending me a copy. I’d been wining about it for a while so I died when it was delivered to my door step. Aaaaanways… I reply enjoyed The Blood Trials like I thought I would. Ikenna was such a hot headed bad-ass protagonist. I fucking adored her and her anger. I liked how unpredictable and reckless she was because I didn’t always know what she was planning. She was a protagonist that sort of kept me on my toes. Secondly I liked the world. It was an flower that blossomed over time and revealed the more complex elements that weren’t visible at the start. I liked that the simplicity of the world at the beginning really made for a refreshing ending when the world began to expand. I love all of the history and lore surrounding it, it was peeeerfect. And of course I love the hint of magic too 😉 The characters? Yes. I love Ikenna obviously, I loved Selene and her sex positivity. I loved Reed even if he was a broody stickler for the rules. (I loved him as a love interest if that makes more sense). Also Dannica was cool! I see myself really liking her in the second book, but her introduction and friendship with Ikenna really intrigued me. Didn’t expect to like Caiman but here we are, and Chance is a bitch. The plot was great. I didn’t know what to expect besides a typical who-done-it but I love how vicious and detailed the trials were. Also I loved how the murder mystery didn’t overshadow the tournament arc which embodies most of the story. The trials were bloody and gory and just as brutal as described in the beginning of the book. I’m just so happy Davenport managed to surpass my expectations with that alone. The plot twist were GREAT too. I’m a bit gullible to be so honest, but even I can predict a simple plot twist, and this one was quite unique and complex even, but I DEFINITELY didn’t expect it. Overall this was beautiful, action-packed, exciting, and has a dash of smut for you trashy humans out there (like myself) so GO READ IT 04/22 or you’ll regret it!!!!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lex

    OH. MY. GOSH!!!!!!! You guys, I'm a huge fan of the Red Rising series by Pierce Brown and after I finished the series back in January, I really didn't see too much more Sci-Fi's captivating me the way that series did. I was wrong. The Blood Trials totally BLEW me away and exceeded my expectations. It honestly is the perfect book to read for Sci-Fi fans especially if you're like me and suffer from Sci-Fi slumps here and there. It is very gritty, dark, and action-packed, but also incredibly violen OH. MY. GOSH!!!!!!! You guys, I'm a huge fan of the Red Rising series by Pierce Brown and after I finished the series back in January, I really didn't see too much more Sci-Fi's captivating me the way that series did. I was wrong. The Blood Trials totally BLEW me away and exceeded my expectations. It honestly is the perfect book to read for Sci-Fi fans especially if you're like me and suffer from Sci-Fi slumps here and there. It is very gritty, dark, and action-packed, but also incredibly violent. So yes it's on par with the Red Rising Series if you've read it. That being said, because of the extreme violence, I would say this really is an adult series as well. It does involve teenagers but I get the impression that we will "grow up" with them with the sequel in this duology. Now on to the story itself. Ikenna is a freaking legend. She possesses magic, but also has to maneuver in a world that is incredibly racist so watch yourself here with the trigger warnings, The book follows her journey to figure out who assassinated her Grandfather, and to do so, she enrolls in a Miltary Academy for Praetorians warriors. Again - please read the trigger warnings!! This book does its own thing and is in no way a copycat to Red Rising in my opinion, but there are some similarities in terms of the characters starting off as teenagers, the sci-fi aspect, the discomfort that comes from reading minority characters be mistreated, and the military/warrior/survival of the fittest type of situation. This book does in on a cliffhanger, but the good news is that it will be a duology!! I can't say enough about how much this book impressed me. It's definitely a new favorite and I'm likely to buy a physical copy anyway to reread it despite having received an arc. Please give this a shot if you like action-packed, gritty, and violent with a dash of magic.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Toya (the reading chemist)

    Before I get into this review, this book is NOT YA. It is graphic and there are some gruesome scenes, so you’ve been warned. Davenport delivers a harrowing, action packed revenge novel that masterfully combines futuristic technology and a magic system rooted in blood. This story follows Ikenna Amari, who signs up for the grueling Praetorian Trials in order to uncover who murdered her grandfather: the former Legatus, Verne Amari. Ikenna is a forced to be reckoned with. She’s hell bent on revenge a Before I get into this review, this book is NOT YA. It is graphic and there are some gruesome scenes, so you’ve been warned. Davenport delivers a harrowing, action packed revenge novel that masterfully combines futuristic technology and a magic system rooted in blood. This story follows Ikenna Amari, who signs up for the grueling Praetorian Trials in order to uncover who murdered her grandfather: the former Legatus, Verne Amari. Ikenna is a forced to be reckoned with. She’s hell bent on revenge and will get it by whatever means necessary. Ikenna is fierce, determined, impulsive, and full of rage. Davenport does not shy away from the consequences that Ikenna faces for each of the decisions she makes. Ikenna also suffers from constant degradation due to both her skin color and gender, which makes it even more difficult to fulfill her grandfather’s wishes of creating the Amari legacy line for future generations. While the trials themselves (and those in charge of them) were absolutely ruthless, I really enjoyed watching Ikenna not only navigate the challenges but also the relationships she has with her best friends as well as others in her competing class. I felt that the side characters were flushed out really well, and I definitely was invested in several of them. This is a fantastic start to this duology, and now I must patiently wait for book two. Thank you to Harper Voyager for providing a review copy. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Darcey

    someone said "fans of Red Rising, take note," so you best believe i took note someone said "fans of Red Rising, take note," so you best believe i took note

  27. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    C/W:(view spoiler)[graphic violence, blood, torture, death, grief, gaslighting (hide spoiler)] Thank you to Harper Voyager and Netgalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review. The copy of The Blood Trials I received for review was an un-edited ARC, which feels particularly worth emphasizing. The overall summary of my feelings about The Blood Trials can be distilled into the following -- the premise is super cool but the book itself felt like a work-in-progress. The Blood Trials is p C/W:(view spoiler)[graphic violence, blood, torture, death, grief, gaslighting (hide spoiler)] Thank you to Harper Voyager and Netgalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review. The copy of The Blood Trials I received for review was an un-edited ARC, which feels particularly worth emphasizing. The overall summary of my feelings about The Blood Trials can be distilled into the following -- the premise is super cool but the book itself felt like a work-in-progress. The Blood Trials is part murder mystery, political intrigue, and violent tournament. The story follows Ikenna who signs up to endure the contest to become a Praetorian, the most elite soldiers, as a means of investigating the murder of her grandfather. The prominence of the various elements of The Blood Trials ebbs and flows over the course of the story. There would be periods where I would wonder if Ikenna forget about her search for answers as there hadn't been so much of a mention of the mystery for huge chunks of the story. Ikenna is a tough-as-nails, loyal protagonist. Watching her grow through her interpersonal relationships with her friends and Praetorian competitors was really satisfying. She is a protagonist who makes mistakes but isn’t afraid to grapple with them in an attempt to do better next time. Ikenna endures a lot of racism and sexism over the course of the story but never wavers in her conviction that she deserves to be a Praetorian. Through her character development, we see how predominantly white institutions impact people of color, which added a powerful emotional component to Ikenna's quest for belonging and answers about her grandfather. That said, Ikenna felt all over the place as the narrative voice of this story. Her internal dialogue often swung from logical to filled with rage in ways that could be hard to follow. These mood swings were conveyed through telling, rather than showing, which made them seem almost performative on Ikenna's part in a way that didn't make sense. There’s also a lot of internal narrating, which often popped up in the middle of a scene that otherwise had a lot of action going on. Ikenna’s musings usually restated information that the reader had already been told numerous times while completely ignoring obvious questions or further areas of investigation. The Blood Trials felt like 2 books smushed together rather than one cohesive whole. The first portion of The Blood Trials focused heavily on Ikenna’s time competing for a place among the Praetorians and a bit of her investigation into the murder of her grandfather. (view spoiler)[The story swerved in a very different direction in about the last 30% of the book. The change felt abrupt and not consistent with the tone of the rest of the story. Some foreshadowing or even more detailed explanations of elements repeated from the last 30% would have helped the change feel a bit more expected. A key player from the back half of the story is mentioned by name only earlier on, which would've been a great opportunity to tease a bit more of where the story goes and made for a bit less info-dumping in the climax of the story. (hide spoiler)] I found the world-building really frustrating. The world of Iludu sounds beyond intriguing. Some people have gifts that are legacies of special talents bestowed by the gods before the gods were banished. This is a world with a long history of war that it seemed like the reader was supposed to be familiar with but was never explained in a comprehensive way. The first portion of the book swung from huge passages filled with info-dumping to situations where explanation would’ve been helpful but was notably absent. The synopsis of The Blood Trials explains the situation in Mareen better than the book itself, which about sums up my frustration with how world-building is handled in the book. The Blood Trials has an interesting concept and a lot of potential. I think some of my issues with the book are probably due to the fact that this ARC seemed more on the un-edited side.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ariel (ariel_reads)

    The Blood Trials was a lovely blend of science fiction and magical elements. I really appreciated Ikenna's character and how her story developed through the pages, and I'm looking forward to how her character continues to grow in book 2. Each of the side characters felt like they also had their own dimensions, and I liked how our perspective of the characters changed as Ikenna finds out more information. The narrative flowed very well, and I found myself very sad to put this book down to do othe The Blood Trials was a lovely blend of science fiction and magical elements. I really appreciated Ikenna's character and how her story developed through the pages, and I'm looking forward to how her character continues to grow in book 2. Each of the side characters felt like they also had their own dimensions, and I liked how our perspective of the characters changed as Ikenna finds out more information. The narrative flowed very well, and I found myself very sad to put this book down to do other things. There are many twists and turns I didn't see coming, but I did guess a few (not a bad thing!). This tale kept me engaged from start to finish, and I know that my subjective reading experience was at its peak with this book. Some content notes to be aware of: grief, racism, violence, blood, misogyny, blood/body horror, death, vomiting, trauma, torture. Thank you to N. E. Davenport, Harper Voyager, and B2Weird Tours for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jenn La' Toya

    Loved this book! So far it is in my top 5 books of 2022. Ikenna is an amazing main character who doesn't take any mess from anyone. I mostly enjoyed the character development in the book; the plot was also very engaging and for the most part this book was unputdownable. Of course, we also love Black girl rep in the SFF genre. Will definitely be picking up the next book in the duology! Loved this book! So far it is in my top 5 books of 2022. Ikenna is an amazing main character who doesn't take any mess from anyone. I mostly enjoyed the character development in the book; the plot was also very engaging and for the most part this book was unputdownable. Of course, we also love Black girl rep in the SFF genre. Will definitely be picking up the next book in the duology!

  30. 5 out of 5

    The FountainPenDiva, Old school geek chick and lover of teddy bears

    "We are forged by adversity. We are tempered in perseverance. We are Amaris. We are as strong as Khanaian steel. We do not bend. We do not break. We do not bow. We do not yield." Whew, hang on to your hats because this book is WILD!!! If you don't like copious amounts of blood, guts and gore mixed with action, adventure, divided loyalties and sex, you might want to give this a pass. Characters do DIE, so it's a good idea to not get too attached to anyone until the end. This is fantastic military "We are forged by adversity. We are tempered in perseverance. We are Amaris. We are as strong as Khanaian steel. We do not bend. We do not break. We do not bow. We do not yield." Whew, hang on to your hats because this book is WILD!!! If you don't like copious amounts of blood, guts and gore mixed with action, adventure, divided loyalties and sex, you might want to give this a pass. Characters do DIE, so it's a good idea to not get too attached to anyone until the end. This is fantastic military sci-fi and political machination rolled into one roller coaster ride of a book that I had to put down every so often because the action in some places was WAY intense. There were characters I automatically hated only to discover they had Ikenna's back when it mattered. Let's just say no way in hell would I sign up for the Praetorians, lol. No wonder they were always bumping off emperors in real life Roman history lol. Speaking of Ikenna. Yes, she was a certified bad ass, but I loved it when a Black heroine is allowed to be messy, angry and confused. I'm sure some readers might not get how important that is, but in reality Black women are often expected to keep our emotions in check lest we be deemed the "Angry Black Woman" (example the confirmation hearings of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson). It was cathartic to feel Ikenna's rage at her grandfather's death and the daily slurs aimed at her for being the wrong color and too good at her job. I loved it even more so when she gave her anger free reign. With that said, she also allowed that rage to sometimes cloud her judgment and cause her to make rash decisions. And you know what, that's okay too. There are also strong female friendships in this book, especially one from an unexpected quarter. The ONLY thing I didn't really like was the trope of making the wife of a dark-skinned Black man several shades lighter than her husband. It's unconsciously colorist and in 2022 we should be aware of the message. I also raised my eyes at a reveal of a certain male character, though it speaks to how colorism operates in relation to gender.

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