Tracy Deonn did not disappoint with the next installment of the Legendborn cycle! I wanted more information on Bree’s Blood and root crafting, and I got it in Bloodmarked! I think Deonn reimagining the concept of bloodlines and highlighting the ancestral lines of Black women in a series that has been so popularized is phenomenal.
We start the book right after the events of Legendborn with Bree recovering and walking through the memories of her ancestors. Bree must be protected as the true awakened scion of Arthur, but she wants nothing more than to be out there with her friends preparing for Camlann and searching for Nick. The Regents come to witness Bree take her oath, but all of a sudden, it is not so clear who Bree’s enemies truly are, and Bree finds herself running for her life.
Several themes stood out to me while reading Bloodmarked. One theme, like I said, was talking about the ancestral lines of Black women. Lineages for white people are easily traceable, well-documented, and often a source of pride. We see how the bloodlines of Black Americans get very complicated because of slavery. Documentation was reduced to first names. Families were split up and sold to different parts of the country. Even as in Bree’s own ancestry, paternity was also the result of violence, but Deonn brings up this nuance several times throughout the story, and it directly juxtaposes the very strict and straightforward way Legendborn obtain their power.
Another theme that stood out to me was the way we honor our ancestors. The way Black folx and white folx talk about what we inherit from our ancestors is very different. Black American’s ancestry is rooted in a lot of pain and trauma. We draw on the strength they developed in order to survive the terror of their time to keep surviving. They ran so we could rest. White people, on the other hand, claim a lot of dignity and honor from their ancestors. It was a privilege and high honor to be Legendborn, and many of the white families used this to gain power and influence over others.
A final theme that stood out to me was the idea of oaths. A line one of the characters, Samira, says in the book is “Black folks don’t need oaths to take care of each other”, and this really stayed with me. The Legendborn take oaths to protect their scion, and if they do anything to harm that scion or let that scion die, their oath will kill them. Individualism and competition are significant parts of white supremacy values. The oaths serve as a way to ensure the bloodlines are protected. However, in communities of color, collectivism, fictive kinship, and community care are valued, especially as a result of white supremacy terror. In Bree’s mother’s ancestral line, the women are seen sacrificing themselves to take care of their daughters, no oath required.
This series does an amazing job tackling these concepts and integrating them into an engaging story for younger and more mature readers alike. This series feels more digestible to me than many other fantasy series. And I have to remind myself that these are 17-year-old boys that make me blush (Team Sel, for the record, although it did flip back and forth so many times)-- Tracy, can you please digress and write an adult novel with a good love triangle like this for me?