The Blood Trials | Nia “N.E.” Davenport


The Blood Trials by Nia “N.E.” Davenport

Out now from Harper Voyager; 464 pages

Content Warnings: Racism, xenophobia, misogyny, strong language/cursing, grief and mourning of a loved one, references to genocide and murder, depictions of violence and death

About the Author: “Nia “N.E.” Davenport is the Science Fiction/Fantasy author of The Praetorian Trials and its sequel (Harper Voyager). She has a B.A. in Biology and an M.A. in Secondary Education. She’s an advocate for diverse perspectives and protagonists in literature. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys traveling, skiing, and being a huge foodie.” (Bio taken from Author’s website)

Find N.E. Davenport on the following platforms:

“The truth thunders through my whole being, and my anger explodes fully uninhibited. It’s like an inferno, a molten blast that roils through me. It’s swift, torrential, and all-consuming.”

The Blood Trials is N.E. Davenport’s first foray into novel writing, and with the grace and worldbuilding of a seasoned writer, the world of Iludu is developed through a mix of technology, hidden magic, and the realities of a racist government. Ikenna Amari is suffering in the aftermath of suddenly losing her grandfather — with him being the only parent she’s ever known as well as knows of her blood magic. When an old friend divulges that many of the people working with her grandfather may have conspired to murder him, Ikenna decides to infiltrate the government’s elite Praetorian special forces to find out just how many people she needs to kill as retribution. However, Ikenna is only the second-ever black person to earn a spot in the Praetorian trials. As she trains to become a soldier fighting for a Republic that would sanction anything to see her family name wiped from existence, she wonders if her Pantheon-blessed magic and intensive training are enough for her to uphold her grandfather’s legacy.

This book is the first story in a duology, and despite The Blood Trials having an entirely unique military history and magical system, I always felt eased into the new aspects of Davenport’s world rather than overwhelmed. Ikenna’s story begins with a need for punishment and morphs into an engaging mystery. She must face the harsh realities of navigating such a xenophobic country while not only looking like the enemy but being secretly empowered by the same magic that the nation of Mareen swore to eradicate. Central to this story is a young woman grieving without answers, with the main character left to face the racism surrounding her alone. 

My favorite aspect of Davenport’s writing is how descriptive and realistic she gets — whether it’s detailing a woman’s blood turning into a dagger or the socially violent confrontations Ikenna is forced into just because of her skin color. This is an intensely timely piece that utilizes the science fiction setting perfectly for such a well-crafted and deserved retribution and character growth. The Blood Trials is the perfect combination of fantasy worldbuilding and character crafting, perfect for any reader who loves a methodically written mystery solved by a main character that you’ll always be rooting for!

PRR Writer and Editor, Kayla Chandler