Book Review: The Blood-Dimmed Tide

Michael R. Johnston

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

published: 13th February 2020
spoilers? no


Reclaiming Earth from the Zhen was only the beginning. For the first time in a thousand years, humans walk the world where their civilizations first arose. Settlements have become towns, swelling with new settlers fleeing the oppression and lies of the Empire. For the first time in a thousand years, the human race is free. But freedom never comes without a price, and a year of rebuilding ends with the human homeworld pushed to the brink of collapse by a series of Zhen attacks. Tajen Hunt, the man who found Earth and uncovered the truth about the Zhen, is sent to the Kelvaki Assembly to ask for ships and pilots to bolster Earth’s defenses. Between an assassination attempt on the Heir to the Assembly throne and the labyrinth of loyalties that is Kelvaki politics, it’s not an easy task. And it’s made impossible when the Zhen Empire seizes control of Earth and sets up a brutal Occupation. Now Tajen and his team must return to Earth and find a way to end the Zhen occupation. But unlike the first Battle of Earth, the lines between friend and foe are no longer clear – because the Zhen have human agents among the people of Earth – and not all of them are known.

Galley provided by publisher

I really enjoyed The Widening Gyre last year, so when I heard that there was to be a sequel, obviously it rocketed up my TBR. This sounds like a set-up to say I was disappointed: I was not. I liked this book, perhaps less so than the first, but it was still an enjoyable read.

The Blood-Dimmed Tide opens a few months after the end of The Widening Gyre. Tajen and his crew are busy defending Earth from repeated Zhen attacks, and have little hope of holding out for much longer. So, Tajen is sent to the Kelvaki Assembly to ask for help. Unfortunately, while he’s away the Zhen overwhelm Earth’s defences and occupy the planet, leaving Tajen and his crew to set up a resistance if they have any hope of getting their planet back.

Much like the first book, this is an action-packed romp through space. The action starts almost immediately and doesn’t let up throughout the whole book. As someone without pretty much no attention span, I loved that about it. And that the characters have a bickering found family relationship going on too, because that’s my favourite sort. So overall I enjoyed it.

In fact, really any problems I had were just to do with how the writing style worked with me, personally. There’s a tendency for the book to feel a lot like “this happened and then this happened and then that happened” and, while that’s not bad by any stretch of the imagination, it did make it feel sort of like events weren’t given necessary weight at times. People die at the hands of their oppressors in this book, and yet it never carried much emotion for me, perhaps because it happened and then things moved on immediately the next chapter. I can’t believe I’m saying this, me with my poor attention span, but you sometimes do need to slow down and dwell on things. Just a bit.

But that aside, this was a fast-paced and enjoyable read, and definintely a series I will be recommending.

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