Tainted Blood: Fortitude is getting soft

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fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsTainted Blood by M.L. Brennan urban fantasy book reviewsTainted Blood by M.L. Brennan

Book three of M.L. Brennan’s GENERATION V series and Fortitude Scott is starting to annoy me. Why? Because Fort’s progressive, do-gooder attitudes are eventually going to get a lot of people killed if he keeps siding with groups other than his family.

After the big conflict with the Elves (Ad-Hene) that led to Prudence, his older sister, trying to force his final transition to becoming a full vampire, Fortitude has been taking on more and more responsibility within the family business. It’s truly like a mafia family, but instead of managing drugs, prostitution and robbery, they are controlling other supernatural races who live with permission in Fort’s mother’s territory. The challenge for Fortitude is that he seems to have taken in the brain-washing of socially progressive Ivy League graduates who want to pretend that everyone is actually nice and that bad things only happen when we provoke them.

Chivalry’s wife has died. This is an inevitable event for a human who shares blood with a mature vampire over time. No matter how healthy the human is, the eventual outcome is illness and death. The fact that Bhumika loved Chivalry so much that she willing risked death to share his life doesn’t fit with Fortitude’s perception of the world. Again, his attitudes run counter to the best interests of his family and he can’t help but judge his brother for what has happened.

With Chivalry grieving for his dead wife, Fortitude is assigned the liaison work with the metsan kunigas (shapeshifters who turn into bears) after the murder of their leader. For Fort this is another chance to get to know more about the hidden communities that live under his mother’s control. It’s another area where Fort’s socially progressive attitudes begin to cause problems. As the investigation progresses, Fort continues to compromise core agreements that have existed between the vampires and other races. His desire to see those other races flourish and have more self-governance creates a very real conflict with his older, much more powerful siblings.

As much as I detest the soft-headed progressive that Fortitude seems to be growing into, his relationship with Suzume is a lot of fun. Brennan’s depiction of the Kistune is quite interesting and the development of their social pecking order and breeding habits is very well thought out. I wish that Fort could embrace a little of the hard edge that they seem to understand.

Of the three books that Brennan has released in this series, I liked Tainted Blood the least. The story felt too politically correct for an urban fantasy story with characters and ideals that seem headed towards some really, really ugly consequences. I respect Brennan for having Fortitude begin to grow a backbone, but I am expecting some magic wand waving in the next book to show how everything is going to be fine and Fortitude is not going to find himself very, very permanently dead because he pushes his sister and brother too far. There are real consequences for trying to fight the natural order of things and I will have to wait and see if Brennan agrees or decides to wish them all away.


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JOHN HULET (on FanLit's staff July 2007 -- March 2015) is a member of the Utah Army National Guard. John’s experiences have often left a great void that has been filled by countless hours spent between the pages of a book lost in the words and images of the authors he admires. During a 12 month tour of Iraq, he spent well over $1000 on books and found sanity in the process. John lives in Utah and works slavishly to prepare soldiers to serve their country with the honor and distinction that Sturm Brightblade or Arithon s’Ffalenn would be proud of. John retired from FanLit in March 2015 after being with us for nearly 8 years.

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8 comments

  1. I love kitsune mythology, but I’m a sharp-minded progressive myself, I’m tired of vampire mafia stories and I think the name Fortitude is a joke, so this series is clearly not for me. John, thanks for the excellent and detailed review.

  2. Marion, this series had actually been pretty good. Brennan has done some quality world building and the characters are developed. I just loathe the socially progressive politically correct theme. It may be a very very realistic view of the world Fort lives in but I fear the author is going to go paranormal romanceesqe and try to make everything happy and pretty when things should get downright bloody and painful.

  3. John’s personality really comes out in this review! :)

  4. Tell us how you really feel. ( :) ). I think I got understood you were going. Fort may have these progressive attitudes, but you fear that the series is not going to show the natural consequences of those choices in his life, right?

    • That’s how I took it. That Fort’s dealing with enemies that, in real life, wouldn’t be likely to sit down and chat over tea.

  5. That’s pretty much it. The biggest problem is that the enemies are his older siblings….much more powerful than he is. I guess I have been burned by too many authors who fall in love with their characters and lose touch with natural consequences and try to “write” it all away.

    I really hope Brennan doesn’t do it, but it’s all kinda lining up.

  6. I think denial is deathly – as we can see when Fort attacked James. So it definitively is time for him to deal with his vampire nature. As for his do-gooder attitude, I agree it’s dangerous ( his siblings are frightening people to antagonize!) but I wonder if some political evolution isn’t a necessity for the Scotts nevertheless. After all, all these supernatural creatures are supposed to live and be educated in the US and the old days of feudalism have passed. A status quo might be risky in the long term too. I feel that’s something M.L. Brennan is preparing for the nexts books with Fort’s involvement with the witches, the werebears (to say nothing about the kitsune).

  7. You are spot on Helene. I worry that the pending conflict can be very poorly managed. When dealing with races that are ok with killing to survive, it is illogical to impose modern progressive values. I hope Brennan surprises me and comes up with a great, realistic way forward.

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