Once again I get to write a review for a book I really love. Deliver is the fourth (and last) book of the Blades of Acktar series by Tricia Mingerink. I haven’t mentioned her books a lot on the blog, but lately they’ve been coming up whenever someone asks me about my favourite book. Which has happened because I’m making a few new friends.
The Blades of Acktar is non-magical fantasy with a medieval feel to the setting. But the geography is inspired by South Dakota so there’s prairies, mountain lions and rattlesnakes. There’d be more on those later, but I’m avoiding spoilers.
Now for you enjoyment I have the cover of Deliver here in its full glory and its blurb below it.
Can something broken ever heal?
Martyn is broken. After torturing his best friend, he doesn’t belong anywhere in Acktar. No matter how far he runs, he can’t lose his guilt.
Leith is broken. While healing from the torture he received at Nalgar Castle, he struggles to find his new role. But can a Blade ever outrun his past?
The country is broken. Bitterness divides town against town, neighbor against neighbor. What will it take to deliver Acktar from itself?
They face their hardest battle yet.
This is actually a series review because context makes everything better. It’s pretty much spoiler free until I get to talking about Deliver and I’ve still managed to avoid most of them.
I first heard of the Blades of Acktar a while before I begun them. I probably would have left them alone (and missed out on something lovely) if Tricia hadn’t been running a giveaway for an audio book of either Dare or Deny. I entered and I won.
I listened to Dare pretty much in one go. It was awesome. I loved the characters, the themes. I love how it challenged me to think about how I would love my enemies if my life was at risk. I knew then that I would love this series.
I don’t know what my favourite part is. Renna reminds me of myself somewhat, though she’s a little quieter. Brandi is amazing. Bouncy, enthusiastic, horse-crazy. She is bold enough to tell Bible stories to an assassin who would easily tell evil King Respin they were Christians. And then there’s Leith, the aforesaid assassin. I always have sympathy for someone who’s discovering the truth for the first time. Someone who thinks they’re irredeemable, not loved by God, yet still has enough faith to dare do what is right. After that there’s so many more wonderful characters. They are all brilliantly written.
Shortly afterwards, I got Deny (also audio from a giveaway). I was a little bit more moderate with it and took about a week to listen to it. It was the perfect sequel. The characters got better. A few new ones were introduced. I especially loved the young Blade Trainee Jamie Cavendish. He’s awesome. Yet his story is sad. All the blades make me said. What kind of King takes teenage (or younger) boys and trains them to be assassins.
I love how Deny show the tangled web that being a spy for good or evil creates. There’s people who are dead and believed to be alive and vise versa. And then the people who should be dead are discovered and you have to pretend to kill the person who’s already dead. Confusing as it sounds, I loved it.
And then there was the depth of the themes. This book makes me less afraid. I feel that I can face death with confidence. It’s a faith strengthener even when it makes my heart ache for what Tricia is putting her characters though.
After that I took a break before finally buying Defy. (Somehow I managed that despite the enormous cliff-hanger ending of Deny?) That was only the beginning of this month. I listened to it in two days when I should have been spitting out pages of words for CampNaNo. Defy is certainly the most tense of the books. It has twists I never would have seen coming. (and other I saw spoilers for) It continued along the previous themes of being firm to your faith and loving your enemies while adding the pain of separated sisters. and some difficult quandaries.
This book is Brandi’s story more than any other. I couldn’t help but feel sad for her. She was the cheerful character, now turned grimly determined and put in a difficult position for a 14 year old girl. Yet she still was Brandi and there was a trace of her fun.
Defy had it’s adorable moments. A mixture of love and pain and bravery. Not to mention adventure and humour. Sometime straight up funny moments, sometime situational humour. When one character is worrying about another character who is perfectly okay, I can’t help but find it amusing. But I admit it did get dark and was quite serious. I just was no where near a serious mood when I read it. I knew it would end happily so I could bear anything.
I was perfectly happy with how Defy ended. Everyone was in the right place, and those who had been injured were recovering, mostly I would have happily waited for the audiobook of Deliver to come out. But then Tricia sent me an ARC. I wouldn’t have asked for it, because I wanted to stick to my audiobook tradition, but I couldn’t resist a free copy.
I read Deliver in a day and it was everything I had hoped for. It’s not all that common that you follow the characters after the battle is over and I wasn’t sure how Tricia could top the high stakes of Deny. But she did it. Once the characters have had their happy ending for a moment, the thought of it being lost is dreadful.
And then there is Martyn. Leith’s best friend from the Blades. The guy who should have died in his one heroic moment rather than survive. He hadn’t got his happy ending. I wanted hi to have it and even more to know the truth. Tricia did this in such a beautiful manner. Both in the story and in his point of view. He is a sarcastic, cynical character, but so fun to read. Partly because it’s so easy to see what he’s trying to keep from admitting. He’s so close to seeing, but he doesn’t. And now I’m feeling sad,
Kayleigh is just so perfect for Martyn. The way he pretend he’s only sticking around for the food, while he actually likes her. That was adorable. And then there’s the soap fiasco. Blistering soapsuds! I love it.
And then we have a potential relationship between Ranson Harding a former Blade and Michelle Allen the sheriff’s daughter. That is cute and slightly ironic.
Also Jamie wanting to become a minister. And Shad rescuing Martyn. And the small interations between Renna and Martyn. And Kayleigh!!!!!
There was also the simple pleasure of seeing how characters have changed throughout the books. Renna had become brave, but now she has become a leader. Not the Leader though, that’s only one person. (In joke). Her and Leith’s relationship has blossomed into something beautiful. It’s the right kind of love, the kind that cares for the other person more. It’s founded on deep trust, not giddy feelings. (but still so adorable)
Deliver is a story of friendship, of rebuilding and of upholding what is right. It’s got it’s difficult and scary moments as do all Tricia’s books, but I highly recommend it to ages 15 up. Be warned, though the books are clean as far as language and immorality, there is violence. It’s not gratuitous, but it can get descriptive at time. Medieval war wounds and things of that sort.
About the Author
Tricia Mingerink is a twenty-something, book-loving, horse-riding country girl. She lives in Michigan with her family and their pack of pets. When she isn’t writing, she can be found pursuing backwoods adventures across the country.
Tricia is having a release party on Facebook in just a couple of days. Come along and join the fun. There’s sure to be prizes (I’ll avoid winning any more audio books) and games and I’ve heard a rumour that some of her characters might turn up to chat with us. I’m not sure on that though. You can find the party page here.
So check out all of Tricia’s books. The Kindle versions are all on sale this week, so don’t miss out. I’m going to grab the companion novella Destroy since I haven’t read it yet. It’s supposed to be read between Defy and Deliver, though missing it does not spoil the enjoyment at all.
I’ve collected a bunch of other posts in the blog tour for your enjoyment.
7 Things You Might Not Know About The Blades of Acktar on Tricia Mingerink’s blog.
Review and Interview by Bethany R.