I was lucky enough to get an e-copy of A Time of Blood by John Gwynne from PanMacmillan via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Everything contained in this review is my own opinion, based on finishing the book.

OK in the interests of fair disclosure, I ADORE the writing of John Gwynne. Absolutely love it. I came to it via a good friend (who gave me a list of authors that may actually all have landed in my top ten as soon as I read their work – it was a solid list.) and actually started with A Time of Dread, getting hold of a copy on publication day. I read it in one sitting. I followed up with The Faithful and the Fallen series, and spent a happy couple of weeks immersed in the world of the Banished Lands. So you can imagine how over the moon I was when A Time of Blood arrived for request on Netgalley.

Here’s a quick promise: I am going to do my level best to not discuss any spoilers, as I do not want to be ‘that person’, and it simply isn’t fair.

A Time of Blood begins where the first book finished. The book opens on Drem’s story arc, and continues with his journey both physically and emotionally. I have enjoyed the development of Drem’s character from start to where we are now, he has been a joy to read, but in all honesty I want to give him a big hug and a good meal. A Time of Blood sees further development from Drem as would be expected, but in a way that is not too quick, nor for the convenience of plot. His character grows naturally, and in an incredibly readable way.

Next was Rivs story arc, which I was exceptionally happy about. I feel quite a connection with her – as a kid who spent half her life losing her temper and getting into fights, it’s always nice to see a strong willed lass provide a good arse kicking. But I also understand the ball of rage, I used to describe it as a ‘rage bubble’ that lived in my chest. Unfortunately it was not linked to me sprouting wings. However Riv has always held a special place in my heart, along with Jay Kristoff’s Mia Corvere and GRRM’s Arya Stark. It is possible Riv develops most as a character emotionally, but that may just be my interpretation given my fondness for her. I have however moved on from wanting her and Drem to meet and become a couple. It’s fair to say Gwynne’s plans are far better than mine.

Talking about other plot arcs risks accidentally giving things away and as I have mentioned, I was impatiently waiting for A Time of Blood since finishing A Time of Dread – I would not want to ruin it for anyone.

Suffice to say, the wait was worth it. The title is accurate in the extreme – there is certainly plenty of blood, but there are also plenty of other equally important facets to the second part of this story. Whilst some fantasy books of this type can feel like they bounce from one battle scene to another, Gwynne ensures that it is definitely not the case with this installment. Whilst there are some epic battle scenes, this is finely balanced with the exploration of plenty of character interaction, emotion, and the importance of family both through blood and the type that is created on the battlefield. It could equally be titled ‘A Time of Self Discovery’, as a lot of characters seem to work out who they really are and what that means to them, and for the future.

The expected publishing date is the 16th of April 2019, and I cannot recommend highly enough that you get this on your list for 2019. In fact, go and pre-order it now, and if you haven’t read A Time of Dread, now is your chance. As a fellow blogger tweeted to me, we are now in A Time of Waiting for the third instalment, and I simply cannot wait for it!

4.5 / 5 – DEFINITELY read it.

You can follow John Gwynne on Twitter @JohnGwynne_