Book Review: Bloodlines #3 – The Indigo Spell

Title: The Indigo Spell
Author: Richelle Mead
Year of Publication: 2013
Series: Bloodlines
#: 3
Goodreads Rating (Avg.): 4.43
Goodreads Rating (Mine): 4

Spoiler Warning

the indigospell.jpg

Plot Description: Having kissed Adrian once, Sydney is now struggling with the realization that she might perhaps return his feelings, even as she continues to follow up on leads that hint towards corruption within her organization, the Alchemists. She also finds herself in danger thanks to a mysterious serial killer witch who is tracking down young magic users and draining them of life and power.

The Indigo Spell begins on a hilarious note:

This wasn’t the first time I’d been pulled out of bed for a crucial mission. It was, however, the first time I’d been subjected to such a personal line of questioning.

“Are you a virgin?”

“Huh?” I rubbed my sleepy eyes, just in case this was all some sort of bizarre dream that would disappear. An urgent phone call had dragged me out of bed five minutes ago, and I was having a little trouble adjusting.

My history teacher, Ms. Terwilliger, leaned closer and repeated the question in a stage whisper: “I said, are you a virgin?”

“Um, yes. . .”

I was fully awake now and glanced uneasily around my dorm’s lobby, making sure no one was around to witness this crazy exchange.

Sydney’s proficiency in spellwork is improving, as is her willingness to engage with her potential for magic. These are two reasons why Jaclyn Terwilliger pulled her out of bed in the middle of the night to help her with a spell. The third reason is her virginity.

This is possibly due to my own personal hang ups, but I hate the idea of virginity holding any special kind of power. It’s a theme that’s inescapable however, turning up in a wide range of subjects from historical virgin sacrifices to modern society’s obsession with virginity.

For one thing, the concept of virginity is highly subjective. We’re given to understand that the historical definition of virginity centres around the heteronormativity of sex – (i.e. where a man, a woman and their respective private parts are involved). This sucks for a lot of reasons – anything that’s not heterosexual is not included, for starters. Even within this narrow definition of sex, one still runs into problems, because people have been using the hymen as the designated virginity marker. And the hymen often… doesn’t exist. Or is lost in ways other than through sex. Or can remain unbroken despite intercourse due to incredible elasticity. In young women, it even shows remarkable healing qualities.

A theory I like more these days is that virginity is more psychological than physiological. If you feel like you’re a virgin, then you’re a virgin.

Whoa, I’ve gotten slightly off track. Bloodlines is not the first universe to attribute magical qualities to virginity, and I don’t doubt that it won’t be the last. Even Terry Pratchett’s Discworld makes allusions to this trope by contrasting the unmarried and virginal Granny Weatherwax against the thrice married and happily promiscuous Nanny Ogg. But yes, the idea still makes me uncomfortable – partly because of the horrendous mess ‘virginity culture’ has become, and partly because I’m afraid it might be true.

Ms. Terwilliger’s spell reveals the location of a powerful witch – one who she worries is going after young witches for their youth and power. Once again, she’s pushing for Sydney to actively learn more magic – for her own protection if nothing else.

On a much lighter note, Bloodlines provides us with happy Vampire Academy cameos in the form of a Royal Wedding (Sheesh. Does there have to be so many of those?) Queen Vasilisa Dragomir is getting married to longtime boyfriend Christian Ozera, and it’s all very cute. Of course, the Queen is still in college, but when you’re a monarch, I’m guessing such mortal concerns go out the window. Sydney is attending the wedding as part of an Alchemist contingent who are there to ensure that they don’t accidentally insult the Moroi by not turning up. Adrian manages to create quite a lot of controversy by asking her to dance – a proposition that horrifies the Alchemists, and shocks many of the Moroi (including – get this – Abe Mazur).

Ha! Got you, old man.

Sydney’s boss implies that she’s got to take one for the team because they don’t want to look ungracious (or repulsed) by declining. And so we get our first Sydrian dance.

Told you it was cute.

He was unconcerned. “You’ll make it work. You’ll change clothes or something. But I’m telling you, if you want to get a guy to do something that might be difficult, then the best way is to distract him so that he can’t devote his full brainpower to the consequences.”

“You don’t have a lot of faith in your own gender.”

“Hey, I’m telling you the truth. I’ve been distracted by sexy dresses a lot.”

I didn’t really know if that was a valid argument, seeing as Adrian was distracted by a lot of things. Fondue. T-shirts. Kittens. “And so, what then? I show some skin, and the world is mine?”

The Sydrian plotline converges neatly with the rogue witch plotline as Sydney and Adrian go roadtripping. Their objective? Track down young women in the neighbourhood who might be in danger and ask them to be on their guard.

Sydney finally manages to track down Marcus Finch, an ex-Alchemist who rebelled and has been in hiding from his former employees ever since. Marcus is the one that finally reveals the secret behind the golden lily tattoos worn by all the Alchemists. The tattoos are made with Moroi blood and have bits of compulsion infused into them, making it impossible for the Alchemists to reveal the secret of their occupation to anyone not already in the know. It also makes them compliant and unquestioning, and might even promote the revulsion for vampires that they all seem to share. The good news is, Marcus has found a way to break the compulsion in his tattoo by means of an indigo coloured ink.

The teenager subplot drags alongside the main plot, being neither so interesting as to catch my attention, nor so boring that I’d completely skip over those parts (which is what happens to me every time something romantic turns up in a James Patterson novel). A love triangle turns into a love quadrangle and eventually resolves itself to mutual satisfaction. Sort of like in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but with gender roles reversed.

Mead’s humour and comic timing is as ever on point, which makes the occasional hiccup in her writing style so much more bearable.

It was hard for me to talk. “It’s instinct. Or something. You’re a Moroi. I’m an Alchemist. Of course I’d have a response. You think I’d be indifferent?”

“Most Alchemist responses would involve disgust, revulsion, and holy water.”

The overarching story line continues to be paced off well, with Sydney and Adrian finally taking their friendship to the level of a tentative relationship, and with the appearance of a new antagonist more powerful than any Sydney has faced up until now.

“Are we going to run off to the Keepers?” he suggested.

“Of course not,” I scoffed. “That’d be cowardly and immature. And you’d never survive without hair gel – though you might like their moonshine.”

The Indigo Spell is a comfortable middle ground for a series – ferocious action combined with cheesy and heart warming romance and serious character development. And my favourite parts about the Bloodlines series are yet to come.

Next Review: Tales of Alvin Maker #3 – Prentice Alvin

Next Review in this Series: Bloodlines #4 – The Fiery Heart

Book Review: Bloodlines #2 – The Golden Lily

Title: The Golden Lily
Author: Richelle Mead
Year of Publication: 2012
Series: Bloodlines (Series sequel to the Vampire Academy series)
#: 2
Goodreads Rating (Avg.): 4.37
Goodreads Rating (Mine): 3.5

Spoilers… and all that.

The golden lily

Plot Description: In the course of her new assignment protecting Jill Mastrano at Palm Springs, Sydney Sage gains new insight into the working of her organization – the Alchemists, about rogue vampire hunters who call themselves grandiose and cultish names, and even goes on a couple dates. Oh, and there’s like, fighting and stuff at the end.

Anyway, the progress of Sydney and Adrian’s relationship in Golden Lily is wonderful to watch. They start looking out for each other, thinking about each other’s mood, doing little things to cheer the other person up. They went from strangers to friends in Bloodlines, and Golden Lily upgraded the S.S. Sydrian to best friendShip.

One of the biggest themes of the Bloodlines series is Sydney’s journey from being a brainwashed bigot to someone more sensible – someone capable of thinking rationally. In Golden Lily, she’s already seeing the Moroi and dhampirs around her as people, caring about their problems in the human sense rather than as logistical issues standing in the way of the mission. But she’s still not completely free of bias – and in this she can’t exactly be blamed because it’s a bias shared by the rest of the supernatural world (with perhaps the exception of the Keepers). Humans and vampires don’t mix, don’t date, don’t marry, don’t interbreed.

      He reached out and pulled me to him, one hand on my waist and the other behind my neck. He tipped my head up and lowered his lips to mine. I closed my eyes and melted as my whole body was consumed in that kiss. I was nothing. I was everything. Chills ran over my skin, and fire burned inside me. His body pressed closer to mine, and I wrapped my arms around his neck. His lips were warmer and softer than anything I could have ever imagined, yet fierce and powerful at the same time. Mine responded hungrily, and I tightened my hold on him. His fingers slid down the back of my neck, tracing its shape, and every place they touched was electric.
      But perhaps the best part of all was that I, Sydney Katherine Sage, guilty of constantly analyzing the world around me, well, I stopped thinking.
      And it was glorious.
      At least, it was until I started thinking again.

The pacing is just right, bearing in mind the fact that this series is six books long, and we’re still only on the second. Sydney’s progress is phenomenal, but not enough. The notion of humans and vampires dating is also explored outside of the Sydrian dynamic – notably with regard to Jill’s relationship with the human boy Micah, or Angeline’s background as coming from a family of Keepers.

A major factor which has no doubt helped along the process of removing Sydney’s bias is her tutelage in the use of human magic under Jaclyn Terwilliger. In the final, climactic scenes of Golden Lily, Sydney uses a number of magical items and spells in the course of a battle, to their ultimate advantage. Once again, the pacing is perfect.

Golden Lily (and by extension the Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series) are a wonderful exercise in perceptions, and how drastically changing perceptions can alter the narrative as we see it. Vampire Academy saw the Moroi world through the eyes of a perceptive dhampir who wasn’t afraid to question norms – and on occasion, through the eyes of a privileged Moroi. Bloodlines sees the Moroi world through the eyes of a human who was brought up to fear and hate the supernatural, and that of a Moroi guy battling Spirit induced mental illness. When one adds in the storylines of Mia Rinaldi, or Dimitri’s family in Baia, or Angeline of the Keepers, the Vampire Academy universe takes on further depth and meaning, becoming a layered entity.

Without a doubt, Golden Lily is still very much Sydney’s story – her quest to discover the truths that her Alchemist bosses are hiding from her, the truths behind the cult of vampire hunters, her continued efforts to protect her little pack of Moroi and dhampir, her study of magic, and yes, her struggle with body image and eating disorders. Adrian’s final chapter intervention might have seemed ham handed if it weren’t for the fact that his lecture came – at least in my opinion – several books late.

    I handed the gelato back. “I can’t. Not with you watching. It’s too weird. Can I eat it later?”
    “Sure,” he said, returning it to the freezer. “If you’ll really eat it. I know how you are.”
    I crossed my arms as he stood opposite me. “Oh?”
    He fixed me with a disconcertingly hard look. “Maybe everyone else thinks your aversion to food is cute—but not me. I’ve watched you watch Jill. Here’s some tough love: you will never, ever have her body. Ever. It’s impossible. She’s Moroi. You’re human. That’s biology. You have a great one, one that most humans would kill for—and you’d look even better if you put on a little weight. Five pounds would be a good start. Hide the ribs. Get a bigger bra size.”
    “Adrian!” I was aghast. “You… are you out of your mind? You have no right to tell me that! None at all.”
    He scoffed. “I have every right, Sage. I’m your friend, and no one else is going to do it. Besides, I’m the king of unhealthy habits. Do you think I don’t know one when I see it? I don’t know where this came from—your family, too many Moroi, or just your own OCD nature—but I’m telling you, you don’t have to do it.”

And yet, it’s also beginning to show us how Bloodlines is as much about Adrian as it is about Sydney. The Vampire Academy series was forever Rose Hathaway’s story – there’s no doubt about that. Everyone else, Dimitri and Lissa included, were supporting characters. But Golden Lily begins to dip into Adrian’s family, his background, his psyche, building the set up for what I would call one of the finest depictions of battling mental illness I’ve ever read.

Next in this series: Bloodlines #3 – The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead

Next Review: Tales of Alvin Maker #2 – Red Prophet by Orson Scott Card

 

Book Review: Bloodlines #1 – Bloodlines, Richelle Mead

Title: Bloodlines
Author: Richelle Mead
Year of Publication: 2011
Series: Bloodlines (Series sequel to the Vampire Academy series)
#: 1
Goodreads Rating (Avg.): 4.22
Goodreads Rating (Mine): 3

Insert the Usual and Mandatory Spoiler Warning Here

bloodlines.jpg

Plot Description: In this series sequel to Mead’s Vampire Academy series, we revisit the world of dhampirs and Moroi – and the much overlooked human component of this world, the Alchemists. We’re following the continued story of Sydney Sage, a minor but favourite VA character who made her first appearance in Blood Promise, the fourth book of that series.
We’re also following complete fan favourite Adrian Ivashkov, who, broken hearted and looking for meaning in life, is drawn to Sydney as the two of them work on a new assignment together.

I have to admit, when I first heard of the idea of Adrian and Sydney getting together, I was skepticalYou cannot imagine two people MORE different than these twoBut I tried to be open minded, and by the time I got to Book 6, I was Team Sydrian all the way.

The main characters from VA – Rose, Lissa, Dimitri, Christian – barely make an appearance in Bloodlines, which is filled with supporting cast members coming forward to take center-stage. And they each bring their share of secrets and problems to the table, which, as everyone knows, is the recipe for a really good book.

Adrian’s broken-hearted following the end of his relationship with Guardian Rose Hathaway. Sydney, on the other hand, is in a LOT of trouble with the Alchemists – the organization she works for – for her involvement in Rose’s adventures from Last Sacrifice. She’s suspected of having colluded with vampires, and of having developed feelings other than disgust or contempt for them. (Yes, this is a really serious accusation that is levelled amongst Alchemists. They’re all insane.) Although there’s no formal inquiry, Sydney manages to dispel the cloud of suspicion in time to be assigned to the latest Alchemist case in Palm Springs. Her biggest reason for taking on the case was to ensure that her sister Zoe doesn’t get caught up in the Alchemist life, which she will if their domineering father has his way.

The rest of the characters in Palm Springs are Jill Mastrano,  along with her dhampir guardians Eddie Castile and Angeline Dawes. While Jill (Lissa’s half sister) and Eddie were very prominent in VA, Angeline barely got a mention for the first time in a subplot involving the reclusive  keepers in Last Sacrifice.

The important subplots are the ones involving possibly magical tattoos being given to humans, of Sydney’s teacher trying to get her to learn human magic (sort of like Wicca), teen drama among the younger set of dhampirs and Moroi, and Sydney’s relationship with Adrian.

My God, Sage. Your eyes. How have I never noticed them? The colour, when you stand in the light. They’re amazing . . . like molten gold. I could paint those . . . They’re beautiful. You’re beautiful.

– Adrian Ivashkov, Bloodlines

Sydney’s character development kickstarted early on in this universe – right from the moment she was introduced, in fact, although there was no way I would have imagined that she’d come to lead her own series. As an alchemist, she’s been indoctrinated to hate, fear and hold in contempt these ‘unnatural’ and ‘unholy’ creatures – vampires, and dhampirs by association. But since there’s always the greater Strigoi threat to be dealt with, Alchemists have an uneasy alliance with the Moroi. Sydney’s bias and bigotry are evident in her behaviour towards Rose, but by the time we come to the end of the series, it’s evident that she’s beginning to think of them as just a different kind of people – not monsters of the night.

Adrian, on the other hand went from alcoholic party boy to good boyfriend who gave up his debauchery in order to impress his girlfriend. Even if personal change is precipitated in you by another person, it should never stay that way. If the only ever reason why you change is another person, that change is going to fall apart the minute that person leaves, or is taken from you. So it’s kind of a one step forward, two steps back kind of situation that Adrian is dealing with. And to cap it all off, he’s now spirit bonded with Jill.

Yes, the reason Jill is incognito in Palm Springs is because there was an attempt on her life, she died as a result, and Adrian brought her back. The concept of a spirit bond was a lot cooler back when it was two teenage girls who were sharing thoughts. Now it’s a high school freshman (or however old Jill is supposed to be) who has access to the thoughts of a highly unstable grown man. Eek. After Jill is punished for being drunk and then having a hangover the next day, Sydney figures out what’s going on and reams Adrian out.

Jill’s guardian is Eddie Castile, long time best friend and sidekick to Rose Hathaway. Eddie was the only guardian to attempt to protect Jill during the attempt on her life, since all the other guardians were busy protecting the Queen, Lissa. The reason for this is because he’s really in love with her, which is the cue to kick off all of the teen drama and love triangles quadrangles that take place in this book.

I would choose this space in order to rant about the impropriety in Eddie falling for a girl whose initial nickname was literally Jailbait (courtesy Adrian, who else), but hello. This is the series that brought us the great Rose-Dimitri love saga, where they could barely wait for her to hit eighteen before ripping each other’s clothes off. And the age gap in that case is a LOT greater than in the case of Eddie and Jill.

Any age-propriety rants in this universe are just going to fall on deaf ears. So it’s one of my blind spots in this fandoms – one of the things I have issue with but choose to ignore in order to continue enjoying the fandom itself. Other examples include all time fan favourite Damon Salvatore engaging in an abusive relationship with Caroline Forbes in early first season The Vampire Diaries and the subject never being brought up after that storyline wrapped up. Till date, the only sign that something like that ever happened is Caroline’s continued dislike of the guy – despite the fact that one of her best friends is soul mates with him, and her other best friend is his best friend too!

But, this is not a review of The Vampire Diaries. Nor is it a review of the Ezria relationship in Pretty Little Liars, which was pretty outrightly illegal at the start. So, coming back to the final main character of the Bloodlines series – Angeline – let me just say this:

Angeline is the most fun. Ever.

Angeline flushed. “It’s not my fault.”

“Even I know you can’t write an entry on Wikipedia and then use it as a source in your essay.” Sydney had been torn between horror and hysterics when she told me.
“I took ‘primary source’ to a whole new level!”
Honestly, it was a wonder we’d gotten by for so long without Angeline. Life must have been so boring before her.”

– Adrian Ivashkov, Fiery Heart

Angeline has trouble adjusting to civilization because she was raised in a moroi-human-dhampir communeity that felt they were keeping to the old ways by staying in contact with (and reproducing with) humans, unlike current Moroi society. The Keepers refuse to submit to the Moroi monarchy, and therefore must do without the little luxuries of life. I.e. Electricity.

Now, I’m pretty sure Mead drew on many, many stereotypes for her portrayal of the Keepers, but… it’s kind of hard to care about considering it’s not a main plot point. And it makes Angeline REALLY funny because of all things she doesn’t know is considered appropriate or inappropriate in society. (Like random violence and sexual harassment: inappropriate; cheating on class tests: inappropriate).

Angeline provides a fresh voiced perspective on society – all of society, not just the parts with vampires and stuff in it – through her constant questioning of everything. She poses a very important lesson for – (and I cannot stress this enough) – each and every one of us:

Question all the facts you’ve been handed since you were born. I mean, you can’t think out of the box without first seeing the box itself, which is a huge problem when it comes to challenging social norms (like their school’s dress codes) and why and how they came to exist in the first place.

In most cases, when asked to explain the rationale behind oppressive norms and customs, those defending them will have the option to either shut you down – which is what schools do when they hand out detentions; or hide behind stupidity and blind faith. [“Because I said so” type arguments brought out by religious leaders come to mind.]

Two more characters that need to be discussed are Keith Darnell and Jaclyn Terwilliger. The latter is a teacher at the school and the leader of a witch coven who’s trying to recruit Sydney. Imagine the kind of conflict an indoctrinated magic and vampire hater faces when they’re told they have the innate ability to do magic flowing through their veins.

Keith is the subject of a more serious topic – and also the reason why Sydney was so deeply obligated to Rose Hathaway’s gangster father Abe Mazur in VA. Sydney was the only person who knew about her father’s Golden Boy Darnell raping her older sister, and her sister made her promise not to tell anyone. So when Sydney grew up and joined the Alchemists, she did what any sane person would do – took a hit out on Darnell, and used Abe Mazur’s contacts to do it. Keith thinks a random Strigoi attack took out one of his eyes with an arrow. Keith can apparently be very gullible.

The first time I read Bloodlines, I wasn’t entirely impressed with the book. Something about it – the style of writing, the editing maybe? – rubbed me up the wrong way. But my second read this year didn’t pose too many problems in that direction, so perhaps it was the crappy pirated pdf version that was the problem.

It’s a great set up book, establishing Sydney as determined to do the right thing and imbued with a great sense for fairness. It also shows us a side to her that goes beyond indoctrination and machine like obedience, both in her affections for her vampire friends and in her dealings with Mrs. Terwilliger.

Containing much of Mead’s hallmark comedy and teen drama, Bloodlines is a light read that touches on bigger and darker issues to be explored as the series progresses. It’s a must read for Vampire Academy fans, but you don’t really need to know the history of the series in order to pick it up and start reading.

Next in this Series: Bloodlines #2 – The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead

Next Review: Tales of Alvin Maker #1 – Seventh Son by Orson Scott Card

Vampire Academy and Bloodlines: Main Character Overview

Be Warned: Here Be SPOILERS!!!

Characters:

  1. Rosemarie Hathaway:
    The dhampir protagonist of the Vampire Academy series, which is told entirely from her perspective. Rose is 17, intelligent, sexy, training to be a guardian for Moroi, and everything you could wish for in a YA heroine. Bella Swan could learn A LOT from Rose – like how to grow a spine, for example. And she isn’t just the best fighter in a class dominated by males – she has also proved herself to be a total match for her older mentor Dimitri. And that’s saying a lot, because Dimitri is considered hands down the best guardian and Strigoi fighter anywhere in the world.
  2. Vasilisa Dragomir:
    Lissa is Rose’s best friend, as well as the Moroi that Rose hopes to be assigned to when she finally graduates from St. Vladimir’s Academy. The two of them share a spirit bond that allows Rose to see into Lissa’s thoughts – a side effect from that one time Lissa brought Rose back from the dead. (I’m not joking. YA Fantasy, remember?) Lissa is a nerd, stunningly beautiful and a natural leader. After having lost her entire family to an accident, Lissa is now the last remaining member of the Dragomirs – a unique position that makes everyone extremely protective of her.
    Lissa wields the rare elemental magic called Spirit, which gives her powers including strong compulsion and the power to heal, at the heavy price of depression and mental instability.
  3. Dimitri Belikov:
    A 24 year old Russian dhampir who is a new guardian at St. Vlad’s, Dimitri already has a reputation as a fearsome fighter and is considered practically godlike by his students. He unwillingly volunteers to give Rose Hathaway extra coaching, leading to the sparking of an attraction between the two of them. Their relationship is one of the main plot driving forces in the story, as they struggle to choose between their personal wishes and their duty to always put guarding the Moroi first. (And yeah, the 7 year age gap thing).
  4. Christian Ozera:
    One of Rose and Lissa’s classmates, Christian has always been a social outsider at the school owing to a tragic past involving his parents which has left its mark on him and his family. He falls for Lissa Dragomir, but tries to stay away from her, reasoning that the last Dragomir should ideally move in royal social circles that aren’t very welcoming of him.
    Christian is a fire user, and one of the first to push the progressive thought that the moroi learn to defend themselves using their magic, as opposed to relying so heavily on dwindling dhampir numbers to protect them.
  5. Adrian Ivashkov:
    First introduced in Frostbite, Adrian is moody, an alcoholic and a chain smoking party boy. He falls in love for the first time when he meets Rose Hathaway, but she dismisses his advances as careless flirtation, or an attempt to get her into bed. Adrian is also a Spirit user, and he and Lissa develop a strong friendship while working together to try and figure out the extents of their powers. The Bloodlines series focuses on Adrian’s life and his relationship with the Alchemist Sydney Sage, with both of them getting alternating POV chapters in the series.
  6. Sydney Sage:
    A human girl raised in an Alchemist family, Sydney views vampires and dhampirs as unnatural and evil. She is an automobile, architecture and caffeine afficionado, and eventually also realizes that she has the potential to practice human magic. In the course of her work with the Alchemists, she finds herself re-evaluating her beliefs about vampires, and eventually falls in love with Adrian Ivashkov.
  7. Edison Castile:
    Eddie is one of Rose’s best friends in school, and eventually grows up to be one of the best guardians around. In addition to being a brilliant fighter, Eddie is also unswervingly loyal and painfully dutiful. When assigned for the protection of Jill Mastrano, Eddie falls in love with her, but holds off on hopes of a relationship with her because of the differences in their races and social status. He is often referred to as “mini-Dimitri” by Adrian.
  8. Sonya Karp:
    Sonya was one of Rose and Lissa’s teachers in school, and the first Spirit user they knew about. She recognized Lissa’s abilities and tried to warn Rose about the negative effects of practising Spirit. She herself was unable to cope well with the mental instability that came along with her powers, and eventually chose to turn Strigoi in order to retain her sanity.
  9. Abe Mazur:
    Rose comes across Abe Mazur in Russia, and thinks of him as the Moroi version of a mobster. While not royal, Mazur is a highly savvy – and therefore rich – businessman and it is often implied that he is involved in a number of illegal activities. Mazur is notable for his outlandish fashion sense, his way with the ladies, and his ability to easily procure C4 explosives.
  10. Jaclyn Terwilliger:
    Jacky Terwilliger is Sydney’s history teacher and an extremely powerful witch. She notices Sydney’s potential and encourages her to practice magic. As a result, Sydney eventually joins Jacky’s coven – the Stelle.

Richelle Mead, The Vampire Academy and Bloodlines

The Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series by Richelle Mead have been a favourite of mine since I picked up Shadow Kiss from my local bookstore – completely at random – back in 2010. I was intrigued by the book, but it took me a few more years to start tracking down all the titles in the series. It was part of a voracious (and sadly, depression fuelled) readathon I was engaging in at the time – I also read through the Beautiful Creatures series and the entire Vampire Diaries lot around the same time, to name a few.

This series is also what prompted this new blog. I (started and) finished reading The Ruby Circle, #6 in the Bloodlines series today, presumably bringing the entire saga to an end. A five year long journey, more or less to the date.

Here’s a brief overview of the two series, which will be followed by a more detailed book by book review. I’ll try to stay as discreet as possible, but just in case, here’s a

SPOILER WARNING!!!

Series Name: Vampire Academy and Bloodlines

Author: Mead, Richelle

Publication Info: GIY

Genre: YA Fantasy

The Universe: The books follow a secret vampire underworld, wherein one finds three distinct races – the Moroi, the Strigoi and the Dhampirs. The Moroi are what are supposed to be the ‘good vampires’ – elemental magic users living in their own civilization complete with an elected monarchy and twelve noble families to choose the monarch from. Moroi are born naturally, and used to intermingle with humans once upon a time. The Strigoi are the ‘bad vampires’ – the stereotypical undead creatures of the night, bloodthirsty and incapable of emotion or sentiment. They have no access to magic, but unlike the Moroi, they’re immortal. Said immortality comes, of course, with superhuman strength, senses and reflexes. The Dhampirs originated as the offspring of Moroi and human pairings, but in modern times, the Moroi have retreated from human contact and keep to themselves.

Summary by List

Easy Access Reproduction Chart: [Yup, this stuff is kind of important]

  • Moroi + Moroi = Moroi
  • Moroi + Human = Dhampir
  • Moroi + Dhampir = Dhampir
  • Dhampir + Dhampir = No Offspring (Sterile Pairing)
  • Dhampir + Human = ?? (Never addressed in the books, as far as I can recall. I’m assuming the result is the same as a Dhampir – Dhampir pairing).

Types of Strigoi:

  1. The Forcibly Awakened – Applicable to humans, dhampirs and moroi. Where someone is completely drained by a Strigoi, and then in turn fed some of that Strigoi’s blood.
  2. The Voluntarily Awakened – Applicable only to Moroi, as humans and dhampirs aren’t capable of blood drinking – where a Moroi chooses to take the life of someone they’re feeding off by draining them completely.

 Primary Organizations and Groups:

  1. The Moroi Government:
    The Government consists of a council of royals headed by a monarch – King or Queen. The sitting members of the council are the eldest members of the twelve royal families, and the King or Queen is elected from one of these families by said Council. The moroi living all over the world submit to the laws of the Moroi government along with those of their respective nations.
  2. The Guardians:
    Dhampirs who train to fight Strigoi and protect Moroi from their menace.
  3. Dhampir Communities:
    Towns and settlements where dhampirs who aren’t interested in being guardians live. These communities are primarily made up of women and children, and generally have a bad reputation due to the Moroi men who tend to visit looking for easy sex. Women from these communities are often derogatorily referred to as ‘blood whores’ due to the willingness of some to allow the moroi to drink from them during sex, thus breaking one of the greatest taboos of vampire – dhampir society.
  4. The Strigoi:
    By nature solitary, the Strigoi on occasion form loose organizations, usually crime rings and attack forces. They have also been known to consort with humans who are willing to serve them in exchange for the promise of being turned. Their relationships are always based on primal dominance and physical strength.
  5. The Keepers:
    Since the majority of Moroi take great pains to hide their existence from humans, human-Moroi relationships have become taboo. The Keepers are a group of Moroi, dhampirs and humans who live far away from any semblence of civilization, and follow no such taboo. They refer to civilized Moroi as Tainted, and to Strigoi as the Lost.
  6. The Alchemists:
    An organization of humans who used to be – you guessed it – alchemists in the Middle Ages before they discovered vampires and magic. Deeply religious, they take it to be their holy duty to keep the existence of vampires – unnatural creatures of the night – secret from the rest of humanity.
  7. The Warriors of Light:
    An offshoot of the Alchemists who believe that all vampires should be destroyed. These guys pretty much give the Strigoi a run for their money.
  8. Witches:
    Female human magic users. It is unknown whether there are any male witches.

Magic: The Moroi have access to elemental magic, with each Moroi specializing in either fire, water, air or earth. A fifth – and much rarer – elemental magic called Spirit shows resurgence at the beginning of the series.

Main Characters: [Just a list to help me figure out who features on the main ‘Characters’ post that I’ll be doing.]

  1. Rose Hathaway
  2. Vasilisa Dragomir
  3. Dimitri Belikov
  4. Christian Ozera
  5. Adrian Ivashkov
  6. Sydney Sage
  7. Eddie Castile
  8. Sonya Karp
  9. Abe Mazur
  10. Jaclyn Terwilliger