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Blood Rites, by Janrae Frank
Genre: Dark Fantasy
Publisher: Renaissance
Published: 2005
Review Posted: 6/1/2005
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 9 out of 10

Blood Rites, by Janrae Frank

Book Review by Susie Hawes

Have you read this book?

In a world filled with vampires, necromancers and werewolves, one person is different. Born a sa'necari, Isranon refuses to perform the obscene rites of rape and murder that will empower him. Isranon, the last scion of his namesake's house, is a character of conflicting loyalties. This is his story.

Hoon is the firstborn of the vampires and the last of the three founding brothers. Hoon controls his people through a combination of ruthlessness, treachery and political maneuvering. The three dominant races, vampires, lycan and sa'necari, are fighting for survival. Denizens of the Light are attacking, destroying Hoon's power base. The sa'necari prince is in service to Hoon and has been made a blood slave to Ankasha, the beast. Ankasha is capable of destroying any who oppose her. A cat-like creature, she is powerful yet easily manipulated. Hoon has earned her loyalty, and she follows his lead. Isranon, the last of his house, is in turn devoted to the prince.

There is strong animosity between the vampires and the sa'necari. In addition, Isranon's unwillingness to perform the rites is considered a heresy. The sa'necari are necromancers whose cruel art, the bloody mortgifan rites, lends them the abilities of both mages and vampires. If the other sa'necari discover that Isranon has not performed the rites he will be killed in the bloody ritual. The prince keeps his secret, but Isranon believes it is only a matter of time before he is uncovered and put to death.

Isranon is a kind soul whose pacifist father defied the evil sa'necari and refused to learn the mortgiefan rites. He and his family paid for this with their lives. Only Isranon is left. Isranon's life is the focus of this novel. We follow his struggle as he establishes loyalties with the prince of the sa'necari, who spares him. Isranon has the ability to speak with ghosts. They sometimes give him advice or tell him of future events. His childhood was a mixture of his father's gentle, pacifist teachings and the those of his godfather, a lycan named Nevin. The lycan do not abhor violence, and will kill to protect love ones. This contradiction in philosophies provides one of the novel's central themes, as Isranon struggles to understand the teachings of his father and godfather and to reconcile them with his own actions. He shows his confusion in thought and deed, bringing depth to the story.

As he comes under the control of Hoon and Ankasha, Isranon learns more of their personalities and natures. He grows to hate the evil vampire, yet the mysterious creature, Ankasha, is revealed to be a mixture of cruelty and innocence. Ankasha feeds off of her blood slaves, and maintains a tie to them that reaches every fiber of their body and soul. Her powers are adult, but her mind is that of a child. She is tied to Hoon through a web of lies. She is the creation of a god, the Tinkerer, and a force of Chaos which might be used to overthrow the evil Hoon. She may yet be influenced by Isranon's kindness. Her fate is uncertain.

We follow Isranon as he suffers enslavement to Anshaka and befriends a host of characters. The author introduces the cultures and people of this world through actions, dialog and reflections until we know them. Their emotions ring true. Isranon shows nobility in the face of adversity, and kindness to the cruelties he endures. The conflicting feelings and attitudes, engendered by his fathers teachings and his godfathers', give him the depth needed to carry this novel. His struggle to understand the actions of those around him enhance this character and make for solid reading. Violence is not glorified in this novel. It is part of a savage world. Yet in Blood Rites, the author focuses on the story and character development rather than the violence. Due to the strength of her writing we begin to care about these people, and hope they can survive this harsh reality. Isranon is promised redemption by a ghost, and we want to see him achieve it.

The novel ends with Isranon in danger for his life. Several factions are plotting to kill him. The birth of a new evil has been engineered by Hoon, a death angel made from the willing sacrifice of his lover and the dark arts of an evil goddess. Will Isranon escape to fulfill his destiny and be freed to walk with the gods of light, or will he die, forever cursed by the dichotomy of both his upbringing? This novel explores the concepts of prejudice and religious tolerance. As a heretic, Isranon must hide his true nature. He must also deal with the hatred of the vampire and lycan race for the sa'necari. Incidents highlight this difficulty and we are often reminded of the danger he faces.

I give this book a strong 5 for its plotting character development, and for the rich depiction both of the world the characters live in. The internal logic of both the characters and their world are consistent. The detail is exquisite, the cultures fully evolved, and the conflict clearly defined. I look forward to the sequel, Blood Heresy. If it is as well written as Blood Rites, I will not be disappointed.
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Comments on Blood Rites, by Janrae Frank
Posted by AvidReader  on 5/22/2007
Content is cut and paste with lack of consistant rhythm and flow. Difficult to follow plot and character developement on its own, hard to care to spent the effort to put the pieces together. This book and author lack professional polish and style. Self publisher at best. Ms Frank, if you cannot find a decent editor to run your material thru, at least solicit a few blunt but literate friends to proof for you befor you consider yourself finished. Readers, do not pay for this authors work as you will be disappointed.