Blood Duty is primarily the story of Tamra, a competent garrison commander working for her mother, and Jessup, a no-nonsense, rakish scout with a devil-may-care attitude.
I think the story itself is best described as a “high fantasy romance”. The world-building is perhaps the most remarkable part of this story; it was clearly given a lot of thought and fleshing-out prior to the story being written. The plot itself is soundly constructed, moving from one point to the next without wandering or getting wrapped around itself.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find myself getting passionate about the story. I’m a big “swords-and-horses” fantasy lover, and as such, this book should have clicked with me, but it didn’t. The characters never seemed to quite rise up above their archetypes (the plucky young girl, the brooding but handsome boy, the young prince, the elderly wizard) and become fully human, though they tried valiantly to do so. It didn’t feel particularly rushed, but rather concluded in its own time, though I would have personally liked to see events unfold a bit slower. The villains seemed to be evil for the sake of being evil, with no more motive ascribed to them than simply conquering using dark magic just because they could. We never see enough history to really *feel* the conflict between the warring nations, so it ends up as just a sort of backdrop for the characters’ struggles.
Overall, this was a competently-executed high fantasy/romance which just seemed to lack that final bit of sparkle that would have made it really come alive. A few nagging typos and the occasional formatting issue also served to interrupt the story’s flow. One more pass through content editing/revision and a final copy edit might well lift this story from “good” into “great”.
Final Score: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars. Good.