Monday, 3 February 2014

Monday Mini-Reviews - Bloodlines and The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead

Bloodlines (Bloodlines, #1)

Sydney is an alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of human and vampires. They protect vampire secrets - and human lives. When Sydney is torn from her bed in the middle of the night, at first she thinks she's still being punished for her complicated alliance with dhampir Rose Hathaway. But what unfolds is far worse. Jill Dragomir - the sister of Moroi Queen Lissa Dragomir - is in mortal danger, and the Moroi must send her into hiding. To avoid a civil war, Sydney is called upon to act as Jill's guardian and protector, posing as her roommate in the last place anyone would think to look for vampire royalty - a human boarding school in Palm Springs, California. But instead of finding safety at Amberwood Prep, Sydney discovers the drama is only just beginning...

As I loved the Vampire Academy series, I was keen to read this spin-off series featuring some of the characters from the same world. The leading heroine is Sydney, a member of the secret order of Alchemists whose task is to keep the existence of vampires hidden from humans. Sydney has been in disgrace following the incidents at the end of the last Vampire Academy book, but is offered the chance to redeem herself when an attack on Jill Dragomir, the newly crowned Queen’s half-sister, leads the Moroi to decide to send her into hiding. Sydney is chosen to accompany Jill to a private boarding school where they will hide amongst humans until the danger has passed.

Sydney is a very different narrator to Rose, but her story is just as engaging. She might not be as kickass but she definitely has spirit, and it’s interesting to see how her views on vampires and magic gradually change over the course of the book. Fans of Adrian will be pleased to know that he plays a major role in this series as well, and is as charismatic and hilarious as ever. This book both continues loose ends from the VA series and develops a gripping new story of its own, and it’s a great return to the unique world of vampires and alchemists that Mead has created. A strong start to the series!

The Golden Lily (Bloodlines, #2)

Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets—and human lives.

Sydney would love to go to college, but instead, she’s been sent into hiding at a posh boarding school in Palm Springs, California–tasked with protecting Moroi princess Jill Dragomir from assassins who want to throw the Moroi court into civil war. Formerly in disgrace, Sydney is now praised for her loyalty and obedience, and held up as the model of an exemplary Alchemist.

But the closer she grows to Jill, Eddie, and especially Adrian, the more she finds herself questioning her age–old Alchemist beliefs, her idea of family, and the sense of what it means to truly belong. Her world becomes even more complicated when magical experiments show Sydney may hold the key to prevent becoming Strigoi—the fiercest vampires, the ones who don’t die. But it’s her fear of being just that—special, magical, powerful—that scares her more than anything. Equally daunting is her new romance with Brayden, a cute, brainy guy who seems to be her match in every way. Yet, as perfect as he seems, Sydney finds herself being drawn to someone else—someone forbidden to her.

When a shocking secret threatens to tear the vampire world apart, Sydney’s loyalties are suddenly tested more than ever before. She wonders how she's supposed to strike a balance between the principles and dogmas she's been taught, and what her instincts are now telling her.

Should she trust the Alchemists—or her heart?

The second book in the Bloodlines series picks up where the first left off. Sydney used to believe that magic was unnatural and evil and that vampires were the same, but when sent into hiding with Jill, the Queen’s half-sister, to protect her, she has found herself forced to question her prior beliefs. Meanwhile, she reluctantly agrees to be set up with a guy who seems to be exactly like she is – only to find that she might be developing feelings for someone who is out of bounds. But a new threat suggests that there may be a vampire-hating force at work which even the Alchemists don’t know about.

The plot takes a while to get going, but the story is as engaging as ever. Sydney is really growing on me as a protagonist, and is starting to question her ingrained beliefs about vampires and magic. Adrian, once again, steals the show, and he and Sydney are great together. There’s a lot more romance in this book than in Bloodlines and the action still isn’t as high as in the VA series, but I really enjoy reading about the characters and I like that we get to learn more about magic and its place in this fascinating world of vampires and Alchemists. And with an ending like that, I’m glad I have The Indigo Spell ready to read right away!

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