*I received a copy of this title from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*
This is a sequel and you can find my review for the first book here.
Title: Children of the Bloodlands (The Realms of Ancient #2)
Author: S.M. Beiko
Publisher: ECW Press
Publication Date: September 25, 2018
The dazzling second book in S.M. Beiko’s Realms of Ancient series
Three months after the battle of Zabor, the five friends that came together to defeat her have been separated. Burdened with the Calamity Stone she acquired in Scion of the Fox, Roan has gone to Scotland to retrace her grandmother’s steps in an attempt to stop further evil from entering the world.
Meanwhile, a wicked monster called Seela has risen from the ashy Bloodlands and is wreaking havoc on the world while children in Edinburgh are afflicted by a strange plague; Eli travels to Seoul to face judgment and is nearly murdered; Natti endures a taxing journey with two polar bears; Phae tries desperately to obtain the key to the Underworld; and Barton joins a Family-wide coalition as the last defense against an enemy that will stop at nothing to undo Ancient’s influence on Earth — before there is no longer an Earth to fight for.
Darkness, death, and the ancient powers that shape the world will collide as our heroes discover that some children collapse under their dark inheritance, and those who don’t are haunted by blood.
This second book in the Realms of Ancient trilogy starts off months after the defeat of Zabor, but Roan, Eli, Natti, Phae, and Barton are separated when new threats rise. There is a plague that has taken over and a new demon that calls itself Seela is after the Calamity Stones which each Paramount possesses. This book kind of sees the Five Families working together to fight off the darkness.
Roan is on her own personal journey in Scotland and is trying to learn to control her newly acquired stone and powers. She learns that her grandmother is not who she thought she was at all. This book is a total struggle for Roan because she has to fight against her own darkness and find her own strength outside of the Stone. It doesn’t help that everyone keeps calling her the Paramount, but it’s not a power she ever wanted. She also discovers more about her family that she ever thought she would and kinds of loses herself a bit.
All the other friends find themselves on their own journeys as well, which each have to do with the five Calamity Stones. This book is all about sacrifice and self-discovery and it’s a lot darker than the first book was. It’s definitely got less of the snarky dialogue and strikes a more serious tone, but that’s most likely because everyone is trying to save the world.
I really loved that the characters each got to travel to different places! This book goes everywhere from Winnipeg , Nunavut, Scotland, Russia, and Korea. It also involves travelling to different realms as well, which was super fun. The story is kind of building towards a kind of apocalyptic ending and I can’t wait to see who comes out of the story alive at the end of the third book. Also, the chemistry between characters is totally there but never acted on and it’s killing me! I kind of like that romance is on the back burner, but the suspense!
What do you usually come up with first when writing a book? Characters? Plot? Ending?
Usually, images of characters mid-scene, mid-action sequence, show up unbidden in my brainscape. Which is very inconvenient, especially when I’m already knee-deep in one project and trying to keep my focus on that! Sometimes I’ll just jump right into writing that scene, and flesh things out later, often writing plot points out of sequence, which can help with developing the lead up (for me, anyway.) Often, the ending of a story I’m excited about is planned before the book is even begun.
From these seemingly random scenes, I’ll write out a short form, sometimes jot-note plot summary, developing a roadmap around the things I already know. I’ll also write mythology primers, and character essays that lay out a character’s intentions, motivations, and developmental arc. Sometimes I’ll also write a dialogue script before writing a scene. It’s never the same for every book, because some of these methods might not work for every story. I’m a firm believer in planning, but also letting some things happen organically, to get the best out of a potential story you want to tell.
If you could be any character for a day, who would it be and why?
As far as characters from my series, probably Eli Rathgar. Who doesn’t want access to a giant pair of wings, mind control, and invisibility? I wouldn’t want to extend it past a day, though. He’s got WAY too much baggage.
What kind of research did you have to do for Children of the Bloodlands?
A lot of my research was grounded in setting development. Major scenes take place in Scotland, where I’ve travelled extensively the past few years, as well as Canadian cities that I’ve only peripherally visited. While travelling, I took detailed notes of urban areas and layout, and often would have to go back and consult maps to make sure certain scenes could play out there. I had to do a lot of geographic research and reading up on the Athabasca tar sands as well, which turned out to be a really fun battleground.
Other research had to do with Inuit mythology, as well as Indigenous consultation and sensitivity reading to make sure certain terms I was attributing to my made-up mythology weren’t derivative, appropriative, or downright insulting. I’m very glad the publisher and I did that work together.
Roan travels to Scotland in this book. If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go and why?
Greenland is at the top of my list! I had initially set some Seal scenes there, but I wanted to keep the narrative still somewhat grounded in Canada, which was always the intention with choosing the animals and mythological creatures for the series. I think my next trip, though, will likely be to Ukraine and Romania, for research for another young adult project (still in development.)
What can we expect from the next book? Do you have any plans for when this series ends?
After Children of the Bloodlands comes Book 3 in the Realms of Ancient—The Brilliant Dark. It will be the final book of this series. You can expect a big time jump (7 years!), a return to a much-altered Winnipeg, a new main protagonist, and way more deep-diving into the worlds of the gods, because everyone gets sort of stuck there. Things will come to a head, and Ancient, the sleeping godhead that everyone’s counting on, will reveal themselves as not be all they appear to be…
All around, it will be good to wrap things up! I have loved playing with these characters in this fantastic, bizarre, complex world that grew up around them, but I’ve got many more stories in me. After The Brilliant Dark, I don’t have any plans to revisit this world, but who knows?
About the Author
S.M. Beiko is an eclectic writer and artist based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She also works as a freelance editor, illustrator, graphic designer, and consultant in the trade book and comic publishing industries in Canada and the U.S. Her first novel, The Lake and the Library, was nominated for the Manitoba Book Award for Best First Book as well as the 2014 Aurora Award. Her fantasy trilogy, The Realms of Ancient, began with Scion of the Fox, followed by Children of the Bloodlands, and will be concluded with The Brilliant Dark (2019).
There is an awesome giveaway happening for the chance to win a copy of Children of the Bloodlands and one of two custom owl pins!
The giveaway ends on October 7th, so don’t forget to get your entries in. Two winners will be announced. Open to US and Canada only.
You can find the giveaway here.