The Blood Sword Legacy: Eight knights bound by a brotherhood forged in hell claim their legacies the only way they can: by right of arms, by right of victory, by right of conquest.
Most of England has submitted to King William, but Wales refuses to yield. The King’s trusted Blood Swords are unable to prevail, and while Stefan de Valrey is left unconscious on the battlefield, his sworn brothers are captured. Despite terrible injuries, Stefan vows to liberate them. Even rescuing a delicately beautiful — and naked — maiden from peril cannot deter him, for the silver-eyed Arianrhod is a Welsh princess, a hostage Stefan can exchange for his brothers…so long as Arian remains as pure as when he met her. But that is a constraint Stefan finds harder to honor with every passing day.
When the scowling knight slings her across his saddle, Arian knows she should fix all her thoughts on escape. But Arian has never before experienced the deep, soul-changing desire that Stefan arouses with merely a glance. Breaking their vows could set two kingdoms ablaze — can they control the sweet, terrible burning between them?
Since the blurb on the cover of the book summarizes the story adequately I am not doing that in this review and will get right to the heart of the matter.
Stefan de Valrey is one of William the Conqueror’s Blood Swords. The Blood Swords are William’s elite and most trusted black knights. Stefan is scarred both emotionally and bodily. And he’s a merciless loner who is proud, honorable, quiet and serious.
Arianrhod (Arian) of Carmarthenshire is a Welsh princess. She is not one to whine or complain and her pragmatic mentality gets her a long way. She is a brave, determined, stubborn, bold , proud and courageous social creature.
Arian and Stefan have their love for horses and their strong objections to falling in love (even if their reasons differ immensely) in common. As Arian and Stefan get to know each other and fall in love, the reader follows their journey both literally and emotionally. I admired Karin Tabke’s ability to evoke my empathy for both Stefan and Arian in their differences of opinion. She made me see where Arian’s anger towards Stefan was coming from but at the same time I also understood why Stefan did some of the things he did regarding Arian and what he thought of her choices.
The secondary cast is ample but the supporting characters are never overwhelming or distracting. Each player in this play has his or her role in the plot or the romance between Arian and Stefan. There are Normans, Welsh, Vikings who all form small pieces of the great picture. Among the more important ones is Arian’s betrothed, Magnus Tryggvason. He is a character with different sides to him and his motives aren’t entirely disclosed from the beginning. All I can say is that he gets what he deserves.
Again I enjoyed another installment of this series immensely. I don’t have a vast collection of historical romances from the medieval/William the Conqueror time-period but I am definitely glad Karin Tabke’s Blood Sword Legacy is part of that small collection. The series is not unique in it’s setting. I do realize that, but the writing, characters and romance justify my fondness of these books, next to Karin Tabke’s ability to give each book and romance something special through its own vibe and uniqueness. She combines gruesome scenes of battle/torture with frank dialogues, emotional anguish and heart wrenching romance and does this with seemingly effortless skill. Her talent for painting a romance against a medieval background sprinkled with historical facts and fiction definitely takes this series above the average medieval romance.
One minor thing kept this book from a 4,5 or even 5 star rating. As I was nearing the end of the book (less than 100 pages to go) I realized the marriage between Magnus and Arian was going to take place regardless because Arian realized she had to put duty before love. I was truly wondering how it was going to work out and how Karin Tabke was going to bring this to a satisfying end because after the marriage Stefan intervenes in a way that was sudden and confusing for me. The resolution seemed too convenient and in my opinion Karin Tabke took the easy way out a bit at first, even if it was a unique and original solution and one I haven’t come across before. Had this solution been approached differently I am sure this installment would have replaced MASTER OF TORMENT as my favorite of the series, as all the other elements of MASTER OF CRAVING worked perfectly for me and the ending of the book was one that will stick with me for a long time.
The story of Stefan and Arian is one that has been written in many romances before: the warrior who kidnaps the princess in order to get what he wants. Yet, with her thorough, historically founded and lifelike writing style Karin Tabke’s delivery of it was very refreshing for me. And even thought I questioned part of the resolution, it is a keeper for me and I am looking forward to the next installment of this series.
Arian to Stefan (she thinks he is a Saxon, and Stefan decides let her):
Be sure, Saxon, to sleep with one eye open, lest you find your sword in your other eye.”
Longing twisted with a desperate need for the woman he could not have. Emptiness filled his soul, and he felt as if there was no reason to take his next breath. For Arian was his life, and without her, ‘twas as if he had no sustenance. And though he would ride, and battle, and see to his king’s needs, the most vital parts of him would be missing. His heart and soul.
A primal possession overcame him with such a force he wanted to throw his head back and howl at the moon, to let all who heard it know that he had claimed his life mate and would fight any man or beast who tried to take her from him.