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Greenleaf Book Group
Service Provider
Blood Ties
L. Waithman, author
At the heart of an ancient prophecy is young Lucas, who has the sole power to save two medieval kingdoms from destruction . . . but will he discover this ultimate secret before it’s too late? Lucas has been raised as a blacksmith’s son; an outsider ostracized by the other village children. One night at a nearby monastery, a mysterious black stone whispers a haunting premonition to Lucas. When his father is murdered, the monks take Lucas in, convinced he is an extraordinary hero foretold by destiny. However, a restless Lucas runs off to join a circus where he draws the attention of the powerful King Itan, who believes Lucas is one of “the chosen”—a group of boys who are descendants of great warriors. The king will stop at nothing to compel Lucas to join his chosen army, all while the soldiers who killed Lucas's father are closing in. Before long, Lucas is embroiled in a plot to defeat the king while an unseen enemy begins planning to bring the young man down before he learns of his remarkable power.
Waithman (King’s Chosen) kicks off the King’s Chosen series with dependable medieval fantasy beats enlivened by a rousing spirit of adventure. Ten-year-old Lucas mourns the death of his blacksmith father, killed in a confrontation with a mysterious man dressed in black. Father Ansan at the local monastery takes Lucas under his wing to teach him the ways of the sword-wielding warrior monks. But Lucas is different; he has unusually quick reflexes and heightened senses. When Lucas reveals that he heard voices from the monks’ sacred black stone, Father Ansan explains, “The stone speaks to those it chooses to be worthy.” Now Lucas hopes to one day serve in King Itan’s army. Discovery of the sacred stone has given Lucas the power of knowing with his mind without seeing with his eyes, and Father Ansan believes “He is the one we have been waiting for.”

The comfort-food plot moves quickly as Waithman follows Lucas’s adventures and the boy gradually discovers his lineage and destiny. It’s all told with vigor and engaging characterization, especially once Lucas joins a royal circus in the hopes it will bring him closer to King Itan. When word of Lucas’s skills reaches Itan, the king wonders if he could be either an elite born—a boy of noble blood trained to serve in the king’s guard—or a chosen one, a commoner with exceptional skills to fight in the king’s army. But before Itan can test Lucas, the boy is swept away, continually chased and threatened by the men in black.

Waithman crafts a solemn, engaging tale of a naïve and inquisitive boy who grows into a strong and capable young man. Despite the familiar setting and plot, lovers of classic high fantasy YA storytelling will eagerly follow the precocious and likable Lucas as he staunchly pushes through the many plot twists, betrayals, to face his mysterious past and claim his destiny with King Itan.

Takeaway: Likable characters and a spirit of adventure enliven this traditional fantasy

Great for fans of: Taran Matharu’s The Inquisition, Sara Holland’s Everless.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A