With courtly intrigue, assassinations, and a growing darkness, The Boy Who Wept Blood is an entertaining read that builds upon the best elements of The Boy With the Porcelain Blade.
Lucien's legacy lives on in his protege Dino. But ten years have passed since Lucian disappeared, and Dino is struggling to live up to his legacy. Sworn to protect Anea as she struggles to bring reform to Demesne, Dino finds himself drawn into a dangerous game where he must become both spy and assassin in order to fulfil his vow.
And all the while the darkness at the heart of Demesne is growing towards fulfilment.
Patrick has again weaved his magic and crafted a fascinating story of intrigue, betrayal, and mystery. I love the world he has created and expanded upon in this book, with its renaissance like facets and similarities. One of the criticisms I had with the first book in this series was that Patrick did not explain or show enough of the world outside of Demesne for my liking. In the Boy Who Wept Blood Patrick this has been improved upon, and whilst I still have many, many questions I felt comfortable with the information revealed in this book.
Dino, the main protagonist, was both interesting and frustrating at the same time. Patrick traditionally has written very character focused stories, and this is again the case in The Boy Who Wept Blood. We witness all of the momentous events unfold mainly through his eyes and thoughts, and the reader is carried along by his role in the plot. I did enjoy how Dino evolved from the start of the story to the end, and I found his idiosyncrasies both charming and compelling. I did however find some of his choices and decision making confusing at times, and at odds with how I thought he should have reacted.
The cast of supporting characters, like in The Boy With The Porcelain Blade, were rich, vivid, and well executed. Anae again is compulsively thrilling and mysterious, and I found Stephania's rise politically and emotionally very riveting. I did find myself yearning for Lucien, the main protagonist from The Boy With The Porcelain Blade, halfway through as I felt the story slow down and lull. However I read on, and was rewarded when things improved dramatically in the final third as the dark events surrounding Erebus unfolded.
The action, political machinations, and intrigue in The Boy Who Wept Blood were again, like in The Boy With The Porcelain Blade, top notch. Duels, betrayals, and unrest are littered throughout the story. In fact one of the highlights of this book was Patrick's ability to enthral me during those scenes. I literally felt like I was there, witnessing events, tasting the coppery tang of blood on the air and smelling the tense sweat clinging to people as the Houses warred and conspired against each other.
One criticism I do have with The Boy Who Wept Blood is the ending. It does leave things wonderfully open for the next book, but I just felt a little deflated by it even though Lucien does return. I expected more based on the lead up to it and the the reveal of Erebus.
All in all The Boy Who Wept Blood was a very enjoyable, character-driven fantasy with intriguing mystery and cracking action. If you are a fan of Scott Lynch, or just fantasy in general, then you should check this book out!
4 out of 5 stars.
A review copy was provided.