THE JUDAS BLOSSOM | STEPHEN ARYAN
Well, here we are again! Some more musings on a new book. This time it's Stephen Aryan's upcoming book The Judas Blossom which is out next week.
The Judas Blossom is the first book in Stephen Aryan's new trilogy The Falcon and the Nightingale which is a reimagining of the Mongol invasion of Persia. The book is a little different to Stephen Aryan's other books as it is set in the tumltuous 13th Century.
Now before I get on to tell you about the book, I want to thank Caroline Lambe, lead publicist at Angry Robot books who works tirelessly sending books out to people like me to read and then rant on about how much we like them (or Don't - depends on your perspective)
Right on with the book.
Due to the efforts of the great Genghis Khan, the Mongol Empire covers a vast portion of the known world. In the shadow of his grandfather, Hulagu Khan, ruler of the Ilkhanate, is determined to create a single empire that covers the entire world. His method? Violence. His youngest son, Temujin Khan, struggles to find his place in his father’s bloody rule. After another failure, Temujin is given one last chance to prove himself to Hulagu, who is sure there is a great warrior buried deep inside. But there’s something else rippling under the surface… something far more powerful and dangerous than they could ever imagine… Reduced to the position of one of Hulagu’s many wives, the famed Blue Princess Kokochin is the last of her tribe. Alone and forgotten in a foreign land, Kokochin is unwilling to spend her days seeking out trivial pursuits. Seeking purpose, she finds herself wandering down a path that grants her more power than a wife of the Khan may be allowed. Kaivon, the Persian rebel who despises the Mongols for the massacre of his people, thirsts for revenge. However, he knows alone he cannot destroy the empire. When given the opportunity to train under the tutelage of Hulagu, Kaivon must put aside his feelings and risk his life for a chance to destroy the empire that aims to conquer the world. Family and war collide in this thrilling and bloody reimagining of the Mongol Empire’s invasion of Persia.
Filled with brutal battle scenes and a riveting plot, Stephen Aryan's new book, The Judas Blossom is a masterfully written historical fantasy reimagining the tumultuous Mongol invasion of Persia.
Now, I am not particularly familiar with this aspect of historical events. However, this did not impede my enjoyment, primarily due to the fact that Stephen Aryan has written a masterfully crafted story to convey the events of this period in history.
Added to that, there are superbly realised characters that are vivid and full of life.
The story centres around four main characters, Hulago Khan (grandson of Genghis Khan, and brother of Möngke, Ariq Böke and Kublai Khan), Kokochin (one of Hulago Khan's concubines), Hulago Khan's son Temejin and a Persian rebel turned general in the Khan's army, Kaivon.
First and foremost to mention is that I think The Judas Blossom is Stephen Aryan's best book yet. The story is intricately plotted with each of the four different viewpoints playing off each other exquisitely. It's hard to pick out a main viewpoint, but the story centres around Hulago Khan's machinations to expand the Mongol Empire globally and all the characters seem to interlink.
Set in the 13th century, The Judas Blossom charts a tumultuous period in world history, not only with the expansion of the Mongol Empire, but the rise of the Mamluks, and brings in aspects of European history.
The book is full of political intrigue, plots, well crafted action scenes, tensely barbed verbal altercations, deception,sieges and because this is historical fantasy, there is an underlying magic system.
Each of the characters is well realised, and I found myself invested in each of the character's arcs, even the tryannical Hulago. I think my favourite of the characters is definitely Kokochin's arc, who I definitely could not help but like as it charts her rise from shy, retiring concubine to….. well, you'll see. (Don't want to give too much away now do I.
The other POV's are equally as enthralling, especially Temujin's, who as constant disappointment to his father, eventually finds his own way, and also is the springboard for a thoroughly intriguing arc of the story.
However, it's not just the characters that hold centre stage in this book, it is equally Stephen Aryan's writing. He manages to convey all the nuances of the period, whilst immersing you in a world that is as utterly alien as any secondary world fantasy and manages to give it such a sense of reality that you feel that you are transported back in time to the period where the story is set.
The Judas Blossom is a fantastic book, and as I have already said, one of my favourites of Stephen Aryan's that I have read.