In Savage Messiah, the fourth installment in the Chronicles of Blood series, Robert Newcomb carries readers back to the land of Eurtracia and continues the adventures of Prince Tristan. Okay, those Chronicles were supposed to end with the last book, but this once continues the adventures of Prince Tristan. This is advertised as the first in a new series, “The Destinies of Blood and Stone,” but it reads like a fourth installment in the previous “Chronicles of Blood and Stone.” Shouldn’t a new series be about a new world? Or at least a new set of characters?
In this fantasy world, the magical orbs still hang around in the sky. Now the Orb of Vigors is broken and causing a lot of trouble. Tristan cannot repair it; his blood is still tainted from the last book (again, it seems like a continuation of the story, so the whole separate new series marketing continues to confuse readers). He has much to do before he can fix the orb. In the meantime, the land is plagued by attacks of foes old and new.
And, guess what… Wulfgar is back! Althoug he died in the last book, he is back to seek revenge an, of course, go after Tristan. Readers of “The Chronicles” may recognize this plot from the first two books, where the enemy died but came back to life.
So Tristan and his friends are off on another adventure. Plenty of action should keep any readers interested in violence happy; there is no lack of graphic sequences of carnage, but some of scenes seem repetitive. It feels like Newcomb had to force the story, throwing in extra padding. Padding is okay, but only if it is interesting. The repetition feels like Newcomb had to try too hard to write this tome.
There is also a lack of decision-making, or inner struggle, or any sort of personal struggle at all - things are already decided for the characters. Even the skills they “learn” are not really learned - they don’t read spell books or take classes or even practice. They just inherit them in their blood, and that is a little too easy and convenient.
The conclusion to this long adventure ends up a little predictable. Tristan even gets cocky, and at the end of the story you wonder if the author even remembers the plot line. Some of what happens at story’s end does not match up with what was stated in the beginning and transpires throughout the book.
In all, it is a not-so-exciting ending to a gory, predictable book lacking proper characterization, although diehard fans of the first three books in Newcomb’s “Chronicles” may enjoy this fourth volume – or, rather, the first in a “new” series. Savage Messiah two out of five stars for a padded story, a predictable ending, and a faltering set of characters.