Review: Blood Legacy by Tej Turner

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Tej Turner's Blood Legacy (book 2 of The Avatars of Ruin) was published by Elsewhen Press in February/March 2022.

Tej Turner
Tej Turner

Tej Turner does not have any particular place he would say he is ‘from’, as his family moved between various parts of England during his childhood. He eventually settled in Wales, where he studied Creative Writing and Film at Trinity College in Carmarthen, followed by a master’s degree at The University of Wales Lampeter.

Since then, Tej has mostly resided in Cardiff, where he works as a chef by day and writes by moonlight. His childhood on the move seems to have rubbed off on him because when he is not in Cardiff, it is usually because he has strapped on a backpack and flown off to another part of the world to go on an adventure.

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Blood Legacy (The Avatars of Ruin #2) by Tej Turner
Blood Legacy
The Avatars of Ruin #2
by Tej Turner

Book 2 of The Avatars of Ruin series

The ragtag group from Jalard have finally reached Shemet, Sharma’s capital city. Scarred and bereft, they bring with them the grim tale of what happened to their village, and a warning about the ancient powers that have been awakened and now threaten all humanity.

Despite this, some of them still hope that reaching sanctuary within the Synod will mean an end to their hardships, but these hopes are soon dashed. Sharma’s ruling class are caught within their own inner turmoil. When Jaedin senses that there are moles within their ranks, not only does his call to crisis fall mostly on deaf ears, but some who do hear seek to thwart him when he tries to hunt these infiltrators down.

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Tej Turner's Blood Legacy is the second book in the The Avatars of Ruin epic fantasy series. It's a strong and satisfying sequel that fully lives up to the expectations set by the first book and leaves the reader wanting more, because the story becomes larger, new characters are introduced and the threat of war hangs in the air.

One of the things that I especially like about this book and its predecessor is that the author has come up with an excellent story that puts a new spin on epic fantasy. This book has many well-known and often used epic fantasy elements, but the author's approach to them feels fresh and exciting, because he manages to steer himself away from clichéd storytelling and delivers a satisfying and original story that sparkles with genuine awe and wonder. I was pleased with the freshness of the story and found the pacing excellent, because the author takes his time to develop things and doesn't rush into action.

If there are readers out there who haven't yet acquainted themselves with Tej Turner's Bloodsworn, I'll write a few words about it without spoilers. Bloodsworn tells of how a group of villagers, who live in Jalard within the hills of western Sharma, find themselves fleeing from their home after a bloody and vicious attack. Soon, the villagers discover things that will change their lives forever and set them on a bloody path to seek vengeance...

Blood Legacy begins with a glimpse into Meredith's life when she was eighteen years old and lived in a village called Parleyban. After the prologue, the focus shifts to Bryna who has inherited the powers of Vai-ris. Bryna, her twin brother Jaedin and their companions have reached Shemet, the capital city of Sharma where they hope to be safe. They're on their way to the Synod to warn them of the danger they've encountered. Jaedin and Fangar find out that there are Zakaras in Shemet who have been somehow enhanced and are not normal Zakaras. When the companions tell their story to the Synod, they notice that the Synod is not interested in what they tell them... Meanwhile, in Gavendara, Astar tries to use his powers of illusion to get an attention of the girl he's interested in. Soon, he hears that he has been invited to the Institute because of his abilities...

The prologue in this book is compelling, because it sheds light on what happened to Meredith and how she was forced to move away from Parleyban. The author writes fascinatingly about Meredith's life and how she feels about the situation she finds herself in, because she can't control certain things about her life, but has to accept and embrace them despite knowing what it will mean to the members of her family and especially to her mother and sister, Carmaestre.

After the prologue, the main story rewards the reader with plot twists and revelations about the world as the author writes about what happens in Gavendara and how they are preparing themselves for what is to come.

The protagonists are well-created and wonderfully fleshed out in this book. They're not your typical cookie cutter characters, but realistic persons who have feelings, emotions, wishes and desires of their own that determine how they behave and how they deal with things. They've all been through a lot and what they've experienced has affected them. Although they are still young and inexperienced in certain things, they have grown up since leaving their home, but still have a lot to learn.

I enjoyed reading about Jaedin and Bryna. Jaedin is an intriguing character, because he possesses one of the Stones of Zakar, which makes him able to control to normal Zakaras and sense their presence. Bryna is also an interesting character, because she is the Descendant of Vai-ris and her powers have awakened. Although she is strong, her powers are at their strongest in the autumn when the veil between the living and the dead is at its thinnest.

Miles has to face his crimes and deeds in this book, because he is brought to justice. He has to explain why he betrayed his homeland and why he has helped Baird and the others. The Synod gives him an opportunity to prove his loyalty to them, but the offer he receives may put him in grave danger.

Astar is a fascinating addition to the cast of characters, because reading about his deeds and feelings gives the reader a view of the events from a Gavendaran point of view. Astar is a son of a lord and can conjure illusions, which include creating realistic-looking animals and changing his appearance to others. His mother has died of The Ruena and he had to watch her waste away.

Elita, a young woman, who becomes Astar's friend, is also an intriguing new character. She has powers of her own that she keeps well hidden from others, but I won't reveal anything about her abilities in this review in fear of writing major spoilers.

It was fascinating for me to read about Meredith's past, because she hadn't inherited her family's powers, but had a talent for healing. She had to live her youth knowing that her mother has tried to do everything to further the prophecy concerning their bloodline. Reading about her life brought a lot of depth to the story arc.

The relationships and the tensions between the various characters are handled well by the author. His way of writing about these elements feels honest, because he avoids easy resolutions and stays true to the story. I find his writing style engaging and compelling.

The Zakaras are an intriguing new species of monsters, because they have been intentionally created so that they can be controlled and used to wreak havoc and kill people. They've been created by help from Carmaestre who became evil, and now they serve the malicious and murderous purposes of Grav'aen who is the ruler of Gavendara.

The worldbuilding becomes deeper and more intriguing in this book. The author has envisioned a world that is both vibrant and fascinatingly realistic. In this book, he reveals more details about the world as the characters wander to new places and come across new people. The author pays attention to local customs and social differences, and he also refers to many other things, which lend depth to the story. What the Gavendarians and the Sharmarians think of each other in terms of trust is handled exceptionally well, because they're highly suspicious of each other.

One of the most important things that sets this book apart from its peers is the author's engaging way of writing about LGBT characters and how they are treated, because his approach to these elements is effortless and realistic. The LGBT characters face the same kind of problems as real persons do, because they have to deal with other people's attitudes and prejudices, which are misguided and often based on their cultural and religious backgrounds. Life is not easy for them and they feel that they are not being accepted as who they are by certain people.

Before I write the final words of this review, I'll mention that I was impressed by Blood Legacy. This book is exactly the kind of epic fantasy that I love to read, because the author delivers an entertaining combination of depth, character development, excitement, magic and adventure. I look forward to reading the third book, Blood War, because I want to find out what happens next. 

If you're in need of entertaining, well written and captivating epic fantasy, Tej Turner's Blood Legacy is an excellent choice, because it offers epic and immersive entertainment to fantasy readers. Once you reach the ending, you'll be wanting to read the third book as soon as possible.

Highly recommended!