T. R. Thompson's The Blood within the Stone was published by Odyssey Books in July 2017.

Information about T. R. Thompson:

Tom is an Australian speculative fiction writer. He lives in Belgrave on the outskirts of Melbourne with his wife and two young sons.

When not writing or reading he spends too much time gaming and taking long meandering walks through the forest that always seem to end up at a tavern.

The Blood Within the Stone is his first novel.

Click here to visit his official website.

Information about The Blood within the Stone:

“Within you and without you
The blood within the stone
Writ for you and about you
Together and yet alone”

In the isolated traders’ town of Greystone, two young thieves named Wilt and Higgs scratch out a living on the street. Both have quick minds and even quicker fingers, but Wilt has another weapon, an ability to sink into others' thoughts, reading them, knowing before they do what action they will take.

Such power is not easily hidden when the Prefects of Redmondis come through town on a pilgrimage to recruit skilled ones, wielders, those who have an affinity with the secret welds that join all living things.

For a shadow is spreading across the land, a strange dark power that uses its victims' fears to drive into their minds and suck their life away. The Nine Sisters of Redmondis sense this threat, and have a prophecy that one will come, one who understands and controls the power of the blood within the stone. One they hope to rule and use for their own ends...

A REVIEW OF T. R. THOMPSON'S THE BLOOD WITHIN THE STONE

T. R. Thompson's The Blood within the Stone is the first novel in The Wraith Cycle. It's an epic YA fantasy novel with a subtle yet distinct dark fantasy flavour. It pulls readers into its world and thrills them from the very first page all the way to the end.

The Blood within the Stone was a pleasant surprise for me, because it's been a while since I've read such an entertaining YA fantasy novel. As a devoted fan of the darker side of fantasy fiction, I was positively surprised by the dark elements and found them fascinating. It's great that the author doesn't overuse these elements, but spices his story with them in a thrilling way.

I'm glad I could read this novel, because the author is a talented storyteller who uses classic fantasy tropes to his advantage. He writes about well-known elements in an engaging way and keeps the story flowing in a gentle and effortless way. In my opinion, this novel is epic YA fantasy done right, because it's solid entertainment from start to finish.

Here's a bit of information about the story:

Wilt is a young thief who has gotten his first job from the Grey Guild, the thieves' guild of Greystone. When he finds what he is supposed to be looking for, he is robbed of his prize and has to return back empty-handed. The situation is, however, corrected and Wilt becomes a member of the Grey Guild... A bit later Wilt hears that Prefects are coming to Greystone to recruit people who have skills. Because Wilt has plenty of raw power, he is taken to Redmondis... When Wilt arrives at Redmondis, he learns that there are people who would use him for their own purposes. He has a lot to learn, because he must be able to control his power...

This is the beginning of a story that immerses readers into a new fantasy world and introduces them to an intriguing cast of characters.

The characterisation is good and realistic. Wilt and Higgs are well-created protagonists that are easy to identify with (it's enjoyable to read about their adventures and predicaments.). Wilt is a young and gifted thief who lives in Greystone. Higgs has been with Wilt ever since Wilt rescued him from the streets and gave home to him. He is quite a resourceful and enthusiastic young man who supports Wilt. Wilt has an interesting ability, because he can get inside men's minds and sink into their thoughts and read them. With his gift, he knows what others think and how they will act. He has great power, but he knows little about how to use to it properly and how to shield himself from those who are capable of detecting him.

The author writes well about the friendship between Wilt and the younger boy, Higgs. It's great that he concentrates on writing about how much they care about each other and how they learn new things. Their education is one of the most intriguing things about this novel, because it's fascinating to read about what kind of skills they are being taught to them and what they can do with their abilities.

The scenes between Wilt and Red Charley are handled well, because they don't like each other. The author brings tension and suspense to these scenes in a fluent way. The interaction between Wilt and other characters is also handled well.

There are surprisingly many YA epic fantasy novels with action scenes that may be a bit annoying and may alienate readers due to them often appearing as deus ex machina moments. In this novel, the action scenes are fortunately good and bring quite a lot of additional entertainment and enjoyment to the storyline. It was entertaining to read about how the characters faced problems and how they solved them, because T.R. Thompson manages to keep everything under control without losing sight of what is going on in the background. It's great that the author doesn't let the story become muddled with pointless action scenes, but employs action as a tool to advance the story when needed.

The worldbuilding is interesting, because the author paints a vibrant vision of Greystone and its different areas. Greystone has perched in the lee of mountains for hundreds of years. It grew slowly and steadily and was an important trading post for those who passed through the thick forest known as the Tangle. Now the town is slowly dying, because the highway has found an easier route and its residents have to cope with the situation. The Tangle that surrounds Greystone has been a natural barrier to raiders and outside threats. Now that Greystone is not what it once used to be, the Tangle is seen as something to be feared and avoided. Redmondis with its high stone gates is also an amazing and impressive sight.

When I read about the world, I got a feeling that there's a larger world to be found beyond the borders of Greystone, the Tangle and Redmondis. I look forward to reading more about the world and its wonders in the sequels, because I have a feeling that this novel is merely a taste of what is to come in the later novels.

This novel features interesting magic, because the author writes about what the characters can do with their powers. I find the desciptions of the wielders, crafters and wards fascinating. Reading about the old craft is especially thrilling, because it allows its users to change their apperance and shapeshift into animals. I'm sure that these things will appeal to many readers who enjoy reading about supernatural abilities.

I like the author's way of writing about how important the old craft is and what can be done with it, because not everything must be discarded as dangerous and wrong. Lost knowledge and ancient powers should not be forgotten, for they may be important in fighting against the darkness and evil forces.

The Nine Sisters and what they have done to become linked and extremely powerful is something that will most likely chill and fascinate many readers. I won't go into details about their powers and the source of their strength, but I can say that the events related to them are satisfyingly dark, because the Sisters have delved a bit too deep into things they don't seem to understand.

I like the author's writing style, because he writes fluent and gripping prose. He never struggles with his prose, but writes convincingly about the happenings and the characters. There's something charmingly old-fashioned yet modern about his writing style that will appeal to many readers.

T. R. Thompson's The Blood within the Stone is a hidden treasure that awaits to be discovered by fantasy readers. If you enjoy reading classic epic fantasy and YA fantasy novels, you'll find this novel entertaining, because the story is good, the happenings are thrilling and the characters are well-created. What more could you possibly hope to find in this kind of YA fantasy fiction?

Excellent YA fantasy entertainment!

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