Friday, November 17, 2017

ARC Review: Rosemarked by Livia Blackburne

Rosemarked
Author: Livia Blackburne
Series: Rosemarked
Publication: Disney-Hyperion (November 7, 2017)

Description: A healer who cannot be healed . . .

When Zivah falls prey to the deadly rose plague, she knows it's only a matter of time before she fully succumbs. Now she's destined to live her last days in isolation, cut off from her people and unable to practice her art-until a threat to her village creates a need that only she can fill.

A soldier shattered by war . . .

Broken by torture at the hands of the Amparan Empire, Dineas thirsts for revenge against his captors. Now escaped and reunited with his tribe, he'll do anything to free them from Amparan rule-even if it means undertaking a plan that risks not only his life but his very self.

Thrust together on a high-stakes mission to spy on the capital, the two couldn't be more different: Zivah, deeply committed to her vow of healing, and Dineas, yearning for vengeance. But as they grow closer, they must find common ground to protect those they love. And amidst the constant fear of discovery, the two grapple with a mutual attraction that could break both of their carefully guarded hearts.

This smart, sweeping fantasy with a political edge and a slow-burning romance will capture fans of The Lumatere Chronicles and An Ember in the Ashes.

My Thoughts: This story begins a new fantasy trilogy. The Amparan empire is on the move. Zivah is a healer for her agricultural village. They surrendered peacefully and are now forced to house Amparan troops and pay the required tithes for the empire. When the troops currently in their village come down with the Rose plague, Zivah and the other village healers need to tend to them so that the emperor doesn't believe that they let the troops die. Zivah tends to the commander of the troops and manages to bring him through the disease but catches it herself.

There are three outcomes for those who catch the Rose plague. First and most commonly, they die. Second, they survive but end up rosemarked - still able to spread the disease and with a lifespan that could be measured in months or up to ten years. Third, they could end up umbermarked. The umbermarked are immune from the plague and can go back to their ordinary lives. The commander Arxa ends up umbermarked while Zivah finds herself rosemarked.

Dineas is a Shidadi tribesman. The Shidadi didn't peacefully surrender and are still fighting. Dineas was captured and tortured for information until he caught the Rose plague and was discarded with a bunch of other corpses. He survived umbermarked and managed to get back to his tribe. His leader and the leader of Zivah's village are in talks about uniting in opposition to the empire.

When Zivah is given an invitation to the emperor's city to be a healer to the city's rosemarked, that seems to be a good opportunity for Dineas and Zivah to act as spies for the rebels. Zivah will be living with Arxa's rosemarked daughter. Dineas will take one of Zivah's potions which gives him the amnesia that is often a side effect of the plague and join the troops.

Zivah and Dineas have different viewpoints and Dineas doesn't really respect Zivah. However, once he takes the potion he becomes a different man. He is lighter and friendlier and becomes Zivah's friend and even falls in love with her. Zivah is torn because she knows that the other Dineas is so different. She begins to love the new Dineas but doesn't want to all in love because she is living under a death sentence.

Together the two discover a number of things and pass the news back to their elders. When they are discovered, they are forced to flee which is where this story ends. I am eager to read the next book in this trilogy to find out how their relationship develops now that there are no more potions between them. I also want to know if the seeds they planted with General Arxa will cause changes in his loyalty.

I thought the characters were well drawn and interesting people. I especially liked Zivah's struggle with her duty as a healer and her need to be a spy for her people. I also liked both Dineas versions and could understand how different it would be to balance both personalities.

I recommend this for readers looking for a new fantasy world.

Favorite Quote:
Dineas snorts in disgust. "Must be nice, buying your safety with the blood of others."

And now I'm glad I'm bent over my herbs so he can't see my jaw clench. "We do what we must. And we've had our share of suffering."

"Blind kittens, groping at the teat. And they're surprised when they're thrown into a bag to be drowned."

Heat floods through me at my words. "And where has fighting gotten your people? Does it comfort your dead in their graves?"
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

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