Author: Richelle Mead
Length: 380 pages
Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets—and human lives.
In The Fiery Heart, Sydney risked everything to follow her gut, walking a dangerous line to keep her feelings hidden from the Alchemists.
Now in the aftermath of an event that ripped their world apart, Sydney and Adrian struggle to pick up the pieces and find their way back to each other. But first, they have to survive.
For Sydney, trapped and surrounded by adversaries, life becomes a daily struggle to hold on to her identity and the memories of those she loves. Meanwhile, Adrian clings to hope in the face of those who tell him Sydney is a lost cause, but the battle proves daunting as old demons and new temptations begin to seize hold of him. . . .
Their worst fears now a chilling reality, Sydney and Adrian face their darkest hour in this heart-pounding fifth installment in the New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series, where all bets are off.
Protagonists: So I've said it before and I'll say it again, Sydney Sage has come so far since we first meet her in Blood Promise, and in this book especially it really shows. I'm not only speaking of how her beliefs have changed, but her strength of character as well. Sydney's strength usually comes from her massive brain and her intelligence and ingenuity, but lately, with the help of a little magic, her mental strength goes nearly hand in hand with her physical one. It's very interesting seeing Richelle Mead write Sydney more and more like Rose while still keeping her very distinctly and uniquely Sydney. Adrian, the latest narrator and thus protagonist of this series is also changing, but at a bit of a slower pace. After Sydney's capture he goes back to his old habits, minus the cigarettes (though he may have been smoking too, but it was never directly stated) but it's only his love and desperation to find Sydney that can set him back on the right track and begin to change him as well in to stranger character and more than just a pretty face.
Romance: One of the things I loved about this installment was that, unlike the previous one which had a near overload of romance, this one while still keeping Sydney and Adrian's love at the heart of the book, was able to keep it in check a bit more. Not that I'm against romance in books, but this series is so much more and while I still loved The Fiery Heart I felt that at times the romance overshadowed the finer (and some may say more interesting) points of the plot. This installment however really delivers a great amount of romance and even works it into those finer points without it becoming overpowering. Adrian and Sydney's romance does suffer a bit of a hiccup due to Sydney's capture but it will take more than Alchemist reeducation to split these two up.
World-Building: Once again Richelle does a fantastic job of expanding her ever growing universe without it seeming as if she's reusing certain plot points from previous books or letting her world get boring. We get our first real look at Alchemist reeducation and the torture and savagery of the Alchemists (seriously how haven't the Moroi eradicated them already?) We also get appearances from some amazing VA characters who play a bit of a larger cameo role than they had in previous books of the series, though I did find myself missing Rose's perspective. Finally we are introduced to some great new characters who I hope will come back for repeat performances in the final installment of this breathtaking series.
Predictability: I've always seen Richelle Mead as an author who isn't afraid of foreshadowing and setting things up in a way that can make things pretty easy to predict. Lately however her twists have gotten harder and harder to read. In this book especially I've found myself shocked and utterly flabbergasted at many of the things that happen. One in particular comes at the end of chapter 19, and I have to say I cannot fathom a way that I could have seen that coming and while I'm still on the fence about that choice, I do have to say that it was a spectacular twist and redefined how I look at this series going forward (in terms of my predictions for the last installment of this series.)
Ending: So before I get to the final climactic scene and the obligatory Richelle Mead rip-my-heart-out cliffhanger I want to quickly talk about the scene that takes place between those two moments. This was a scene I was hoping to see come in the series, though I had expected it to happen in the final installment and under much different circumstances, that being said, HOLY COW was it spectacular to read (I almost said watch but it's one of those scenes that you practically do watch.) It was a scene so full of win I can hardly articulate my feelings for it in a succinct description but when you read it I hope you'll feel the same way I do because it was a beautiful scene. Now the final climax came a bit earlier than I had originally thought it would. This scene was also beautiful, but in a much darker way and really shows how far these two lovebirds will go to save the other. Lastly, the cliffhanger. This was one of those moments that I didn't see coming, however unlike the twist at the end of chapter 19, it was really something that I should have thought inevitable as there was both foreshadowing for it was well as it fit within certain paranormal formulas. It's definitely one of those cliffhangers that only the evil mind of Richelle Mead can concoct and all I can say is that The Ruby Circle can not release soon enough.
Meet my new favorite installment in this series, originally it was a tossup between The Golden Lily and The Indigo Spell, but this one completely blows those two out of the water. There's action, romance, political intrigue, magic, and crazy amazing twists, the perfect recipe for a phenomenal novel!