After going to see Vampire Academyat the movies I remembered how I never finished reading Vampire Academy’s spin-off book series, Bloodlines. This second vampire series by author Richelle Mead is about Alchemist Sydney Sage, a member of a group that “serves as a bridge between humans and vampires” who protects the general public from the supernatural realm. In Bloodlines, Sydney joined up with Adrian Ivashkov, a vampire who’s a member of the Royal family and once dated Rose Hathaway (Vampire Academy series), and Eddie Castille to protect Princess Jill Dragomir (sister to the queen) from would-be assassins. After living with these supernatural creatures, Sydney learned to shed some of her prejudices against vampires and their kin, and discovered these people to be her friends.
Related | Book Review: Bloodlines
“No, you will listen. For once, you’re going to hear something that doesn’t fit into your neat, compartmentalized world of order and logic and reason. Because this isn’t reasonable. If you’re terrified, believe me–this scares the hell out of me, too. You asked about Rose? I tried to be a better person for her–but it was to impress her, to get her to want me. But when I’m around you, I want to be better because…well, because it feels right. Because I want to. You make me want to become something greater than myself. I want to excel. You inspire me in every act, every word, every glance. I look at you, and you’re like…like light made into flesh. I said it on Halloween and meant every word: you are the most beautiful creature I have ever seen walking this earth. And you don’t even know it. You have no clue how beautiful you are or how brightly you shine.”
In the second book of the series, The Golden Lily, Sydney and the gang are joined by a new Dhampir, Angeline, and try to find a way to create a cure against becoming Strigoi with the help of Dimitri Belikov and Sonya Karp. Everyone is still reeling from the Strigoi attack in the last book, and are trying to return to some sense of normalcy. After falling into disgrace, this novel finds Sydney returning to her Super Alchemist ways, but this time with a difference: Sydney’s beginning to realize she desires the one person she never should, Adrian. As Sydney does her best to squelch her feelings, she begins to delve deeper into magic and begins a new romance with the most boring guy on the planet. In the synopsis according to Goodreads:
Sydney would love to go to college, but instead, she’s been sent into hiding at a posh boarding school in Palm Springs, California–tasked with protecting Moroi princess Jill Dragomir from assassins who want to throw the Moroi court into civil war. Formerly in disgrace, Sydney is now praised for her loyalty and obedience, and held up as the model of an exemplary Alchemist.
But the closer she grows to Jill, Eddie, and especially Adrian, the more she finds herself questioning her age–old Alchemist beliefs, her idea of family, and the sense of what it means to truly belong. Her world becomes even more complicated when magical experiments show Sydney may hold the key to prevent becoming Strigoi—the fiercest vampires, the ones who don’t die. But it’s her fear of being just that—special, magical, powerful—that scares her more than anything. Equally daunting is her new romance with Brayden, a cute, brainy guy who seems to be her match in every way. Yet, as perfect as he seems, Sydney finds herself being drawn to someone else—someone forbidden to her.
When a shocking secret threatens to tear the vampire world apart, Sydney’s loyalties are suddenly tested more than ever before. She wonders how she’s supposed to strike a balance between the principles and dogmas she’s been taught, and what her instincts are now telling her.
The main reason I waited so long to read this book is because my friends were disappointed with the way this novel ended. Whenever that happens, I try to wait for the next book to come out in case I’m disappointed as well. That way, I can keep reading through the next book, and hopefully through to a better ending. What I didn’t count on is completely forgetting to return to this series after book 3 came out, but I’m glad I did. While I can understand how annoying some people felt Sydney’s treatment of Adrian was in this book, her behavior was necessary for her character’s development. Sydney grew up in an environment filled with a lot of prejudice against vampires and Dhampirs, so it’s realistic that she would have some qualms about falling in love with one. Not only that, but the struggles she faced in The Golden Lily made the pay off later so much more worthwhile. In fact, I actually believe this book is far superior than its predecessor, Bloodlines, becausenow Mead has fleshed out Sydney’s character more.
“I don’t care if you say we can’t be together. I don’t care if you think I’m the most evil, unnatural creature walking on earth. You can think whatever you want, go whatever you want. I’m going to just go on loving you, even if it’s hopeless.”
Things really got going in the third book, The Indigo Spell, when Sydney searches for a former Alchemist who managed to escape, Marcus Finch. As Sydney chases after the guy she believes holds the key to her freedom, a new threat surfaces that may end her life if Sydney doesn’t get give in and begin her magical training in earnest. Meanwhile, when Sydney isn’t helping her friends with their love lives, she’s busy trying to figure out her own. In the synopsis according to Goodreads:
In the aftermath of a forbidden moment that rocked Sydney to her core, she finds herself struggling to draw the line between her Alchemist teachings and what her heart is urging her to do. Then she meets alluring, rebellious Marcus Finch–a former Alchemist who escaped against all odds, and is now on the run. Marcus wants to teach Sydney the secrets he claims the Alchemists are hiding from her. But as he pushes her to rebel against the people who raised her, Sydney finds that breaking free is harder than she thought. There is an old and mysterious magic rooted deeply within her. And as she searches for an evil magic user targeting powerful young witches, she realizes that her only hope is to embrace her magical blood–or else she might be next.
I really enjoyed this book. The sexual tension between Sydney and Adrian was rising, and it was obvious that Sydney wouldn’t be able to resist him for long. When they first introduced Marcus Finch I worried he’d come between Sydney and Adrian, but I welcomed his addition. It became obvious in the last novel that the only way it would be possible for Adrian and Sydney to be together was if she left the Alchemists and they ran away together. While the ending was quite predictable, I have to hand it to Mead for waiting until the last moments before Sydney made her big decision. It came so close to the wire, that I worried I’d be proved wrong and was glad I wasn’t.
“Don’t take the high ground and assume you already know what you’ll do. The truth is, when it comes to someone you love, you’ll find there isn’t anything you won’t do.”
The fourth book in the series, The Fiery Heart, finds Sydney struggling between juggling her duties as an Alchemist, her sister Zoe’s arrival in Palm Springs, and her secret life. Unlike the other books in the series, this one is told from both Sydney and Adrian’s viewpoint, and gives fans a look at what the series would have been like if it had been told from his POV. This change in storytelling was fantastic as it allowed readers to see how Adrian views everything that’s happening in their lives, and gave us a closer look at how he struggles with keeping spirit from allowing the madness to seep into him. According to synopsis from Goodreads:
In The Indigo Spell, Sydney was torn between the Alchemist way of life and what her heart and gut were telling her to do. And in one breathtaking moment that Richelle Mead fans will never forget, she made a decision that shocked even her. . . .
But the struggle isn’t over for Sydney. As she navigates the aftermath of her life-changing decision, she still finds herself pulled in too many directions at once. Her sister Zoe has arrived, and while Sydney longs to grow closer to her, there’s still so much she must keep secret. Working with Marcus has changed the way she views the Alchemists, and Sydney must tread a careful path as she harnesses her profound magical ability to undermine the way of life she was raised to defend. Consumed by passion and vengeance, Sydney struggles to keep her secret life under wraps as the threat of exposure — and re-education — looms larger than ever.
If I could say anything about this book is that it is H-O-T hot! Fans finally get the payoff they’ve been waiting for, as the tensions rise among all the characters. Adrian has stepped up to do his part to help cure Strigoi bites, but also wants to have more control of his own life out of Spirit’s grasp. Sydney, however, is desperate to live her life on her own terms, but is terrified of being found out and forced into a re-education program. As these two struggle with their new lives, unseen enemies threaten to destroy their happiness.
One of the bones I had about the first book was over Mead’s decision to make the main character Sydney, when Adrian, Jill and Eddie had already been well-developed in Vampire Academy. Now I applaud Mead’s decision to make such a complex character her lead. While VA offers up more teen fare like bullying, popularity, and race relations, Bloodlines feels a bit more adult. Not only does Mead tackle such themes as racism and cults, but she also delves deeper into Sydney’s eating disorder and Adrian’s mental illness and alcoholism. These aspects of the series are so embedded in the novels that it’s easy to forget this series is about vampires, witches and humans. If I could pinpoint one thing that troubled me about this series it’s how dependent Adrian becomes on Sage. Most people who suffer from addiction have addictive personalities, and whenever they quit their addiction they usually seem to supplement it with something else. For Adrian it appears to be Sydney. Since Mead doesn’t seem shy about tackling tough subjects, I hope this issue comes up in the next book in light of how The Fiery Heart ended. Each book gets better than the last, which makes me glad I forgot to finish reading them. Thanks to my forgetfulness, I now only have to wait 4 more months until book 5’s release this July. Hallelujah!