The Blood Stones by Tori Tecken


His name is not worthy.

A traitor is executed, his name ripped away from history. Now the kingdom stands on the brink of a succession war that could bring the country to its knees. Forces stalk the darkness, moving pawns into place in a deadly game. Gehrin and his brothers were not meant to witness the execution, but now they find themselves trapped in the center of a political quagmire. When Gehrin faces the loss of everything he knows, will he also lose himself? To the south, tribal warlords clash in an endless cycle of violence. Syndri, the daughter of a chieftain, kills for the honor of her people. An alliance with a foreign queen offers the power to unite the tribes, but at what cost?

Someday, history will remember them as legends.


This is my second novel by the author Tori Tecken, having previously read her novel Phased, and I knew that if she could make me care so much about a teenage werewolf story then her epic fantasy debut would blow me away, and I was not disappointed. The Blood Stones is a gripping kickoff to the Legends of the Bruhai series, which promises to become an all-time favorite of mine, and I’m sure many other readers as well.

There is other way to start this review other than talking about the characters. Tecken writes characters like a seasoned professional, controlling the reader’s emotions until they have no choice but to feel how she wants them to. There are characters to hate, to love, and everything in between. Our main cast of characters have been sucked into a web of political intrigue and you can’t help but get stuck in with them. There is a motley crew of young protagonists forced together near the beginning of the novel, and watching them grow closer together over the course of the novel despite their differences was a joy to experience. I can’t wait to see what this crew gets up to in the next book. In my opinion, character work is the author’s greatest strength, and the shining star of this novel.

That isn’t to say the rest of the book is shabby, far from it. As a worldbuilding nerd, I marveled in the vast world the author has constructed for this series. It is generally easy to see when the author has put in the work to develop the world before writing the book, and it is clear that Tecken has done exactly that. The Blood Stones focuses on 2 storylines, each in a vastly different culture. One in a more traditional, Asian inspired civilization, the other a nomadic tribe of warrior people. I thoroughly enjoyed both of these, seeing the differences between them and all the details the author put into each. The magic of the novel was also very interesting. It seems to be a mix of hard and soft magic systems, runes are important to the magic but there isn’t much explanation beyond that so far. Throughout the novel there are small bits of other cultures and a broader world introduced, and I’m sure we will learn more about the magic, so I am very excited to explore this world further as the series progresses.

The book is separated into 3 parts, with a gap of several years between each part. This is a bold choice that doesn’t always work for me, but it was absolutely the right choice in The Blood Stones. Gehrin, who could be considered the main protagonist of the book, is quite young when the book starts, and has a lot of training to do before the end. While we certainly get to witness parts of his training, the time jumps allow us to get an overview into what otherwise could have become a tedious process. The time jumps allow the pacing of the book to flow very smoothly, not particularly fast but not slow and dragging either. I was completely invested the whole read, and never wanted to put it down.

The only note I have for the book is not a criticism but something for some readers to be aware of going in. This novel is very focused on the characters, so the plot can move rather slowly, especially for certain POVs. Character-driven readers should be fully satisfied but more plot-driven readers should know what to expect when they start the book. I consider myself more plot-driven than character, and I still loved the book so I don’t think it should scare anyone away, but I make the note so you can have the right expectations going in.

Tori Tecken has crafted a majestic world full of beautiful and moving characters with her first entry in this new series, and I couldn’t be happier that I read it. The Blood Stones made my top 10 novels of 2023 and I stick by that. Having read and loved both of her released novels, Tecken has established herself as a must-read author for me, and I highly recommend her writing to all fantasy readers.