A Medieval Romantasy
In The Immortal Blood, the third novel in A Reign of Blood and Magic, when Queen Cynara summons magic into the king’s forest, she cannot know how a stolen power will cripple her, or that an orb used during the spell has let loose a single droplet of blood. Now, immortal blood is multiplying and breeding with living creatures, which includes the statue of an undead king.
Resurrected from the dead, Anastacio once lived in the Otherworld. With his godly life reborn, he resolves to find the goddess from his past and avenge the injustice done to both of them, but to thrive, in life and in health, he requires assistance from someone without trust. Queen Cynara has a secret that may provide the answers, but she’s trapped inside her frozen body, similar to the husband she encased in mortar. Why would anyone help her?
How will a god oversee the kingdom; the royal family, a former queen and a true born prince whose secret has been kept from everyone? With help from a witch and Norse goddesses from the Otherworld, might blood and magic seed the ultimate revenge? Or when Cynara’s taken to the Netherworld, will an enemy hated by everyone, claim victory—again.
Ages ago, on a courtyard terrace in the hall of the slain, two gods battled for the hand of one goddess. After a bloody victory, the victor terminated the life of the loser, murdering him.
The goddess who had hoped to love the beaten immortal for an eternity, collected a single cell from his heart’s muscle. She placed this nucleus inside an orb and protected it with a single drop of her own blood, dousing the specimen with supernatural life. But before the cell could regrow, a thief stole the orb and cast it into outer space, where it fell to the mortal world.
A religious man planting in his garden found the orb, and though he couldn’t comprehend the mystery enshrined inside the celestial object, he secreted it away, imagining it contained a powerful force for good or evil. This religious man created a brotherhood of priests who stood watch over the sacred relic.READ MORE
Then one day, Queen Cynara required the celestial vessel for her own dark purposes, and not knowing the secrets it held, her acts of sorcery in the forest caused the orb to open.
A symbiotic transformation was occurring in the king’s forest, deep inside the vale, hidden beyond the hollow glen, a place where supernatural magic had transpired earlier. Having suffered an attack by one of Odin’s ravens, Queen Cynara had collapsed and was now bedridden. But unbeknownst to her, or other mortal beings, an odd and sinister foreplay twitched in the king’s forest. Ancient secrets whispered and the moon glowed pearlescent, casting a vital luminosity on red fluid, which sustained a microscopic cell in a single drop of blood, lying on a flower’s petal.
An immortal housed within that droplet had waited since the beginning of time to escape the orb. The building blocks of life; collagen, hemoglobin and numerous enzymes survived inside the nucleus. The genetic coding was perfect, to metabolize, synthesize and replicate. And now, earth’s oxygen, the glow of a blood moon, perhaps the queen’s lingering magic, had created the perfect storm of events, for now, the immortal blood could communicate and cooperate with a host of living creatures.
The sun broke over the eastern horizon and dark shadows retreated with the rising light. The first cell replicated, producing a genetic replica of itself. The tissue didn’t have a mind, nor did it house a brain. The tissue and plasma merely carried a genetically encoded purpose inside its core, a specialized genome on a mission to secure a yolk.
And the forest creatures were awakening.
Unmindful of the mystery taking place, a hawfinch welcomed the day’s light and soared above the treetops, swooping joyfully. She landed near a clear-running brook, having sighted an appealing nut. She grasped a wild cherry pit in her beak and fractured its stony casing to claim the pulp inside.
The surprising strength of her beak set her apart from other feathery fowl. She savored her reward.
The cell replicated. One begat two, two begat four…
A male hawfinch made his presence known to the lady bird and she found his orange-brown plumage striking. The pair took up a dance as old as time, a beautiful display of courtship.
The cells replicated, again. Four begat eight, eight begat sixteen…
Far beneath leafy branches, a spiny-tailed gecko crept from beneath a moss-covered rock. A nocturnal creature, she didn’t usually awaken during the daylight hours, but the weight of motherhood urged a sense of duty. She’d searched for a place to lay her eggs but had given up at sunset, given the autumn chill. Now, as warmth came again, she resumed the hunt. Such decisions came with risk, but she chose to hold the eggs inside her body until she could find a safe nest. Finding a decaying log, she dug an egg chamber, fit herself inside, then covered herself with dead leaves and substrate. She settled in to wait for the perfect egg-laying moment.
The cells replicated, again. Sixteen begat thirty-two, thirty-two begat sixty-four…
A breeze drifted through the vale. Leaves fluttered and other winged creatures dashed or soared above the canopy. Soon, the king’s forest twittered with birdsong, but an opportunity was in sight.
A goshawk, a medium-large raptor perched on a tree limb, enjoyed an amiable view for catching prey. Her marigold eyes scrutinized tall verdant grasses and pink and white foxglove oscillating in the breeze. An ever-growing droplet of blood slipped from a flower petal, and fell, collecting on a blade of grass. The droplet slid along the stem and then self-implanted on the ground.
The cells kept dividing until a large mass of fluid enveloped the forest floor. The blood could not be contained. It moved, searching for a host who would cooperate. Soon, a stream of blood flowed through the soil, blades of grass and wildflowers.
The goshawk caught sight of the red stream, and curious, she landed near the fluid and poked at it with her beak. The fluid attached to her bill; she tried to cast it aside, from her beak, from her talons, but the effort was futile. She hopped backward, flapping her gray plumage, panicking, shrieking, soon rising into the air, but as she flew beads of fluid crept along her legs, slid across her nether region, and entered her cloaca. The intercourse wasn’t painful, but it had successfully fertilized her eggs. Unspent droplets fell to the forest floor and carried on with their divisions.
Warm inside her burrow, the spiny-tailed gecko waited for an apt moment to lay her eggs, but the ground would not heat until spring. She was at risk of dying if she held her eggs too long, but she refused to release her motherly burden. Her young could not survive if she released these eggs now.
The male hawfinch attempted to mate with his lady bird, but the blood sensed the mated pair in the branches of the hornbeam tree. Like an army of red carpenter ants, the fluid marched along the bark. It wouldn’t be long until the perfect genetic code mated with the hawfinch, too.
To the naked eye, Mother Nature was as it should be. The sun cast a beautiful golden glow on a forest and its creatures. Yet, immortal blood was infiltrating this world and was exploiting the egg-laying creatures by stealing their protective coverings.
A resurrected life was never intended to rise in this way. However, inside the animal yolk, a miraculous transformation was taking place.
In the middle of the afternoon, a raven flew over the landscape. Curious about the red pond, it landed near the fluid and stood near its bloody edge, wary, watchful—As if the glossy black bird had a mind to sense the motivation, it leaned near the liquid and listened—
Unafraid, the raven dipped its black beak in the red fluid and filled its mouth with blood. It then took to the air, flying above the canopy, soaring with the wind, and set its flight path to the east barbican of Camden castle and the statue of an undead king.COLLAPSE
Rachel Dehning on Manhattan Book Review wrote:
Following up on The Ebony Queen (2020), this third installment of Lane’s series charts another imbroglio started by the witch Cynara, queen of Velez. She has unwittingly released the bloody essence of the Asgardian god Anastacio from an eons-old crystal orb while imprisoning the consciousness of Odin, king of the gods, in the same globe. Unfortunately for Cynara, stealing Odin’s divine knowledge leaves her a kind of prisoner, too, as she is left conscious but paralyzed at Camden castle. That leaves an opening for Lady Regana, the queen whom Cynara ousted, to try to kill her—unsuccessfully, since Cynara can’t swallow the poison her foe sticks in her mouth. With Cynara laid up, a succession crisis brings to the fore Keldan Ashburn, Regana’s secret son, who shows the privy council that “a royal emblem is branded between” his “ass cheeks” that establishes his right to the throne. But then Anastacio’s blood infuses the body of Velez’s former King Rickard, Keldan’s father and Cynara’s husband (and Regana’s ex), who is believed dead but is actually yet another conscious paralytic, mummified alive by Cynara in a statue. Anastacio takes over Rickard’s decaying body, rules competently over an astonished Velez, and spends much time bickering with a revived Cynara over all the cruel mischief she has wrought.
But with Cynara converted by Odin’s knowledge from hellacious bitch to benign humanitarian, the true villain emerges: Daemonis, a fallen archangel whose duel with Anastacio over the goddess Freya started the orb business. A coalition of Valhallans, witches, and toxic geckos rallies to take him on.
Lane’s labyrinthine yarn feels overstuffed with subplots; the characters are well drawn and energetic, but the novel lacks the space to do them all justice. Her writing features atmospheric prose, crude humor, and effective, ghoulish set pieces, including the disembowelment of a sniveling priest by a giant goshawk. There’s a delicious Game of Thrones vibe in scenes of royal intrigue. (“There’s doubt on both sides; no proof for Keldan, no proof for Rudrik. However, one man is moldable and the other is not.”) Lane’s imaginative worldbuilding, tart dialogue, and dramatic reanimations and showdowns are enough to keep readers forging ahead through the tangle of narrative strands.
Foluso Falaye on San Francisco Book Review wrote:
Abby Lane has gifted us with book three in the A Reign of Blood and Magic series after the excitement, adventure, and mystery of her first two novels. The Immortal Blood takes place not long after the events of the second novel, The Ebony Queen, and focuses on Queen Cynara and the possible repercussions of her previous actions. After her attack, the Queen is bedridden in her chamber, with outsiders left wondering what has happened. Queen Cynara receives an unexpected gift that she is unsure about from an old friend while lying incapacitated. Characters from the past come to light to satisfy readers' curiosities and show the risks they are willing to take. It is a mystery how it will all turn out. So many themes make themselves known: gods, demons, love, lust, hate, and revenge; there is something for everyone.
Each character's story is played out in their chapters, giving each their deserved attention throughout the book. Lane remarks that she has written The Immortal Blood as a standalone novel when compared with the previous two in the series, with proper explanations given to each character and their backstories. Reading this, I was pleased, as I have not read the first two novels; however, book three had a way of hooking me in, making me interested in checking out the first two novels to satisfy any lingering questions. Being the third book in the series but still self-contained, I did find myself wondering about past events that might have made better sense to me overall but were not completely necessary for me to know.
As stated by Lane in the author's note, there are graphic chapters and references to past and present sexuality; given this information, the recommendation is for a mature audience. There is also some adult language throughout the book. That said, with the extreme popularity of medieval themes on television, there is little doubt that the storyline that continues throughout A Reign of Blood and Magic would be a hit and enjoyed worldwide on individual screens. The audience can read between the lines in parts of the story to discover similarities between the storyline and real life. Audience members interested in Greek mythology will also find enjoyable content with gods, goddesses, and demons.
The Immortal Blood has an eye-catching cover that is intriguing to outsiders; I could feel the tension in the picture and knew that something big was going to happen in the story. I know several fans of fantasy novels and A Reign of Blood and Magic will be a series that I will certainly recommend!
Belinda Smith on Reedsy Discovery wrote:
The colorful worldbuilding, gave me an impressively immersing and deep reading experience. Immortal Blood is quite brilliant in some ways.
Hannah Barry on Amazon wrote:
A wonderful tale with magic, witches, gods, and a battle for power and supremacy. A thoroughly fascinating read.
Katie O'Connor on Amazon wrote:
Lane has masterfully and magically created a world that is so intriguing and original, filled with such dynamic depth that I couldn't put this book down.
James W, Vines Voice on Amazon wrote:
A magical world without compare which will thrill you, chill you, and make you sleep with the lights on. In this Medieval Romantasy, Abby Lane pulls us back into her fantasy world bringing it to life with flowing prose and compelling characters. You won’t be able to put this one down. I guarantee it. I had a visceral reaction to this one. Entirely too real for my peace of mind. I’ll be peeking around trees and checking dark corners for months to come. A damn good book about the eternal struggle between good, evil, and true malevolence.
tbthewriter on Amazon wrote:
Sporting a fitting subtitle (‘A Medievil Romantasy’), Abby Lane’s ‘The Immortal Blood’ is the third installment to her ‘A Reign of Blood and Magic’ series.
The story begins with the ever-unpredictable Queen Cynara suffering an unexpected magical mishap, a misstep that not only leaves her weakened, but also unleashes a long-dormant threat upon the kingdom. Reborn, King Anastacio sets out right the wrongs of his past, a quest that places all who oppose him in danger. What follows is an intricate tapestry of redemption, revenge, and romance introducing a very interesting new character while tying together numerous loose ends of this series.
Keeping in line with her prior releases, author Abby Lane infuses ‘The Immortal Blood’ with her trademark mix of cinematic worldbuilding and tight, witty dialogue. Lane’s writing is always a pleasure to read, but ‘The Immortal Blood’ also features some of her tightest plotting to date. Additionally, this time around Lane amps up the atmosphere, adding a tangible dose of horror and suspense. The premise alone is intriguing, but Lane’s efforts to establish Anastacio’s backstory and motivations pay massive dividends throughout the book. GOT is an obvious point of reference for nearly all modern fantasy, and when it comes to the characters’ twisted motivations and scheming, this book more than earns the comparison. That being said, Lane leans heavily on traditional fantasy elements, tossing loads of might and magic into the story.
Purportedly conceived as a stand-alone entry, I suspect that ‘The Immortal Blood’ will likely leave all but the most perceptive of readers at a loss (especially regarding certain characters) if they haven’t already read the prior two entries to this series. Of course, this isn’t necessarily an issue, as any ongoing series eventually requires some sort of prior investment from readers. To that end, ‘The Immortal Blood’ opens up some very interesting possibilities for Lane going forward, as the author could easily go in a couple of different directions for her next release, depending on which characters she wishes to focus on.
If you’re still waiting for Martin’s final chapter, do yourself a favor and pick up this, or any prior release from Abby Lane—not only is she one of today's most talented fantasy writers, but odds are her next title is just around the corner.
Mark Anthony "M.A." Smith Vince Voice on Amazon wrote:
This book is dark, spooky, and full of fantastical fantasy world building. The story pulls you in and keeps you entertained throughout the story. While it’s noted that it is not necessary to read the first two novels in this series, just for the sake of having a full scope of the world building and plot it might be best to start with the first two books in the series before reading this one.
The author does a great job of weaving all the characters and the storyline together. I am invested enough to go back and read the first two books in the series to see what I missed out on along the way.
I would recommend this series to fans of “Game of Thrones” or “The Vampire Huntress” series by L. A. Banks.
Abby Lane does a fabulous job creating a unique romance/fantasy/thriller. The book focuses on the standard good versus evil, but it comes with a twist. Lane’s characters are fleshed out and backstories are intensely researched will-defined. The plot offers not only twists and turns but will connect readers with the story. Lane’s novel will soon become a staple in any fantasy and lore reader’s library.