I’m currently in the process of re-reading the first 4 books of Richelle Mead’s Bloodlines series (Bloodlines, The Golden Lily, The Indigo Spell, and The Fiery Heart), the Vampire Academy spinoff featuring several key characters from that series. The 5th book in the series, Silver Shadows, was released this summer and I’ve been itching to read it. But, like other book series in which I read each one as it’s published, I forgot most of what I read in the previous book once the newest one came out. So I decided to do a reread so I could give a review on the first 4 books before doing a review on Silver Shadows.
Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one member of a large and very powerful group of humans tasked with keeping the human race ignorant to the existence of moroi, the living and peaceful vampires, strigoi, the dead vampires who almost always kill their victims, and dhampirs, the moroi and human hybrids who live to serve and protect the moroi from strigoi.
After a long stint with the infamous Rose Hathaway in the last few books of the VA series, Sydney gains a somewhat unfavorable reputation due to her seeming ability and willingness to sympathize with moroi and dhampirs. However, due to her ability to tolerate living in such close proximity to these “evil creatures of the night,” she lands a post in Palm Springs helping to protect Jill Mostrano, the only living relative of the moroi queen. Together with Jill, dhampir Eddie Castile, and moroi playboy Adrian Ivashkov, they move to Palm Springs to pose as the Melbourne family, and, with the exception of Adrian, enroll at Amberwood Academy to pose as students.
Throughout the first four books Sydney goes through several dramatic transformations. She must battle her deeply engrained beliefs that moroi and dhampirs are disgusting creatures that violate nature and her ideas that all magic – human or vampire – is bad. She discovers that the Alchemists did very little to actually prepare her to survive in a world that is centered around social interactions and interpersonal relations. And most importantly, she is forced to learn that the group she has so long revered as the light battling the dark may have its own forms of darkness and that their beliefs may not necessarily be the right ones for her.
What I Like So Far:
1. I rooted for Adrian big time in the Vampire Academy series, so I was excited to be able to get more of his story. The same goes for Sydney and Jill – they clearly played very important roles in the VA series and I felt they deserved extended storylines.
2. It’s really fast paced. These were the kind of books that kept me up all night because I couldn’t find a good stopping point.
3. This is a true spinoff. The stories of multiple characters from the VA series were continued thoroughly in Bloodlines. It wasn’t just Sydney’s story; it was Eddie’s, Jill’s, Adrian’s, Angeline’s, and there was good tie in with the original cast of characters with several trips back to court for weddings and work studying spirit.
My major gripes with the series thus far:
1. Everything that happens is way too convenient. It just so happens that there is a restored strigoi near Palm Springs, her teacher is a witch who knows all about Sydney’s world, her classmate is a vampire hunter, and many of the Amberwood students get magic tattoos that for some reason are considered perfectly normal and are supplied by a rogue Alchemist she has close ties to.
2. This series was really hard to binge-read like many others, which may or may not be a problem for some. Each book is a continuation of the previous one, and the theme of Sydney coming into her own continues throughout the series, but whatever major obstacle they face in one book is done and over with by the end and doesn’t carry over. The bad guy gets caught, there is some mention in the next book, and that’s that. The only one that I’ve been super bummed to see end was Fiery Heart because there was such a cliffhanger at the end.
If you were a fan of the Vampire Academy series, you need to read the Bloodlines series. The final book, The Ruby Circle, will be out in February, so if you’re like me and want to read all the books back to back it might be worth waiting for. In the meantime, brush up on the background story to this series and check out Vampire Academy, which focuses on the exploits of dhampir Rose Hathaway and her best friend Vasilisa Dragomir. That’s another fast-paced series, but each book fades nicely into the next so it’s easier to read back-to-back if that’s what you’re into.