Rosemarked (Rosemarked Series #1)

Rosemarked (Rosemarked Series #1)

by Livia Blackburne


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781484788554
Publisher: Disney Press
Publication date: 11/07/2017
Series: Rosemarked Series , #1
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 265,830
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

New York Times best-selling author Livia Blackburne has a PhD in neuroscience from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she conducted research on the neural correlates of reading. She still blogs on the intersection of writing and brain science (, and she now lives in Los Angeles with her family. Livia is also the author of Midnight Thief, an Indies Introduce New Voices selection, and its sequel, Daughter of Dusk.

Read an Excerpt


By Livia Blackburne

Disney Book Group

Copyright © 2017 Andy Marino
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-368-01202-7


A bitter film of ziko root coats the inside of my mouth. I run my tongue over my palate to rub out the taste, though I know it won't work. Nothing dislodges ziko bitterness; not water, not bread, nor goat's milk. If I'd been planning ahead, I might have brought a mint leaf to chew, but I've had more important things on my mind.

The ziko pulp, which I'd sorted by smell and chewed mouthful by mouthful, now sits in a pot over a fire. It won't be long until the whole mixture boils, and I wonder if I should take it off the fire now, just to be safe. The hotter the ziko gets, the stronger its protective properties — but only up to a point. A perfect potion is brought to boiling and immediately cooled, but letting it boil a few moments longer ruins it all. Perhaps I should be cautious today, when my future is at stake. Perhaps it's better to present a passable effort than to aim for perfection and fail.

A bead of sweat rolls off my brow. As I wipe it away, I see my master, Kaylah, sitting between two other healers. If I've added a spoonful too much water or built my fire too high, missorted the roots or chewed my mouthfuls to the wrong degree, she will have seen it. Many times before, Kaylah has stopped me to gently correct my technique, but today she is an impartial judge like the others. The sight of her strengthens my resolve, and I dismiss my thoughts of playing it safe. Kaylah has taught me well, and I know I can do this.

The first bubble forms at the surface of my mixture and pops, sending droplets of potion hissing into the fire. Immediately, I grab some washcloths and lift the pot off the flames. Then I stir the contents briskly until the entire mixture is cool enough to drink, murmuring the ritual prayer. "Goddess, let your touch come through the craft of my hands. Let your breath come through mine to those you've placed in my care."

I bow deeply toward the judges.

Doron, the head judge, rises to his feet and comes to stand in front of my fire. "Tell me what you have made, apprentice."

"Ziko potion, to protect against the bite of the soulstealer snake."

"And what does it protect?"

"The mind. It keeps the victim from losing his memory."

"When may it be safely used?"

"The potion causes no harm unless used alongside valerian root, in which case it may cause the victim to fall into an unwakeable sleep. But the potion itself will only protect the mind if taken before the bite, or within a quarter hour after if the brew is extremely potent."

Doron nods in approval, then turns his attention toward the pot. He stirs the ziko pulp, observing the way his spoon moves through the mixture. He dips his finger and licks it, his forehead creasing as he works the mixture with his tongue. For a moment, he frowns, and my heart skips a beat. Does it taste wrong? Did I wait too long to take it off the flames? No, I'm sure I've done everything correctly.

"Well done," he says. "Perfectly done."

I cannot suppress my smile, nor my deep sigh of relief. I glance behind Doron to see Kaylah's eyes sparkling.

Doron clears his throat. "You have passed all the required tests to earn a healer's sash. You may stop now and serve Dara as an herbalist, or you may take one more test to become a high healer, but that trial carries by far the greater risk. What will you choose?"

His words are ritualized, but my throat tightens nonetheless. For the briefest moment, I hesitate. If I back out now, I wouldn't be the first apprentice to do so. But I've worked ten years for this.

I find my courage. "I will undergo the final test."

"So be it." Doron looks to the door, where a messy-haired apprentice stands at attention. "Bring in the cages."

The boy bows and walks outside. When he returns, two other apprentices follow him. All three carry long bamboo poles — like fishing poles, except small cages dangle where the hook should be. The apprentices line up solemnly in front of Doron, taking care not to let the poles swing near themselves or any other person. A forked tongue flicks out between the bars of the middle cage. From the closest cage comes the barely detectable click of thin, hard, legs on bamboo. A tingle goes up my spine. There's a reason why these are called the cages of death.

Doron speaks loud enough for all to hear. "As a healer, you must walk ahead of your patients into death. The sources of our art are not always safe. Are you willing to brave the fangs of deadly creatures to harvest their venoms and bend them to your will? To take vehicles of death and transform them into agents of life?"

"I am, and I have prepared myself." But there is no way to know if my preparation has been enough.

"Then may the Goddess judge your worthiness."

Doron unhooks the first cage from its pole and pulls out a green serpent as thick as his finger and long as his forearm, with a violet square marking the top of its head. I tell myself I shouldn't be fearful. I've tended snakes for years and injected myself with larger and larger doses of venom to prepare for this day. But that doesn't quiet the knowledge that the purple-crowned serpent can fell a horse within a half hour. Any one of these creatures in front of me will kill a normal person in several heartbeats, and now I must survive three bites at once.

The test of the deadly venoms is more than just a test of my body. It is a test of dedication and discipline, an embodiment of the principle that one who safeguards the lives of others must first be able to heal herself. The venom injections I took to develop immunity were painful and sometimes made me sick, but if I wanted to become a full healer, I had to push through. I had to follow directions precisely so that I would neither kill myself with too much venom, nor cheat myself with too little. And I had to keep it up year after year alongside the rest of my studies.

The serpent slithers docilely up Doron's arm. At the head judge's low whistle, the snake anchors its tail on his wrist and raises its violet head, ready to strike. With his other hand, Doron draws my arm toward him. It's all I can do not to pull away.

Doron's whistle changes pitch. Pain flares in my arm as the snake embeds its teeth into my skin. For a long moment, I stare dumbly at the fangs locked onto my flesh, and then Doron grabs the creature's head and carefully pries it off. Invisible flames spread down the length of my arms. Though I've worked hard to develop resistance against the venom, there is no way to protect against the pain.

Doron coolly examines the wound, peering into the punctures to make sure the venom has entered my bloodstream. I resent his clinical gaze, though I'm in too much pain to move. Finally, Doron nods in satisfaction and returns the snake to its cage. The first apprentice sneaks a worried look at my face before he leaves. He's Zad's apprentice — one year older than my seventeen, but he won't take the trials until the usual age of twenty. In the few times we've met, we've had a friendly rivalry, but today I sense his wholehearted wish that I succeed.

The blackarmor scorpion comes next, with its paralyzing sting. Doron goads it with a stick, and soon enough, its tail plunges down next to the snakebite. As Doron inspects the wounds, the edges of my vision cloud and I sway on my feet. Doron directs a sharp gaze at me and commands me to sit. He helps me down with the steady hands of a seasoned healer, and I'm unable to reconcile his gentleness with the fact that he's just goaded two deadly creatures to kill me.

After that comes the red-ringed spider. This one's the worst, not because it's any deadlier than the others, but because I've never completely rid myself of my fear of these creatures. My mother says a leaf spider bit me when I was very young, but I have no memory of it. I look away when Doron coaxes the creature onto my arm, and the bite is mercifully quick. Then the last apprentice leaves, and I am alone with the judges.

Fire from the three bites spreads through my chest, and the room itself fades in and out of view. Doron catches me as I list to the side. There's a sleeping mat on the floor, and I wonder when they'd laid it out for me. Heat envelops my body. My vision clouds red, then black. Voices echo in my head, climbing like vines up the underside of my skull and threatening to burst me open. When I scream, Kaylah's face appears in front of me, only to morph into the head of a snake. I'm suddenly thirsty, unbearably so, and I ask, then beg, for water. But no one comes to my aid.

Gradually, the sensations lose their strength and fade away. The torturous sounds collapse back into familiar voices, and the room stops wavering in front of me. The heat ebbs too, but not the all-consuming thirst. By the Goddess, I'd give up my healer's sash for something to drink.

Footsteps shuffle up next to me. It pains me to turn my head, but when I see Kaylah holding a cup of water, I lunge for her. I don't make it far, not even to sitting, but Kaylah catches me before I fall and holds the cup to my lips. It empties all too quickly. Kaylah sets it aside and wipes my face with a damp cloth.

"I'm proud of you, Zivah," she says. "You are now the youngest high healer Dara has ever seen."

* * *

Once it's clear that I will survive, my judges aid the rest of my recovery. Now the healers who'd so relentlessly tested me all morning refocus their considerable experience toward nurturing me back to health. Doron mixes three drafts in quick succession — one to clear the remaining venom from my blood, another to help me regain my strength, and a third to rehydrate my parched body.

Zad, the third judge, applies a salve to my wounds. "You'll have scars," he says as he wraps the bandage with his long bony fingers. "But you want these scars. They are a mark of all you've worked for."

And after he's finished, Kaylah helps me out of my sweat-soaked clothes and wipes down my skin. When I feel human again, she takes me by the arm.

"Ready?" she asks.

I nod, and she opens the cottage door. It was dawn when I stepped into the cottage for examination, and now it's late afternoon. Sunlight filters through the bamboo groves that surround our village, and the paths are mostly empty. Most of the people are still out on the crop terraces, finishing the spring planting.


I turn as my younger sister, Alia, throws her arms around my waist. "They told me you survived, but I had to see for myself." She clutches me so tightly that the air rushes out of my lungs.

I laugh. "Are you trying to squeeze the remaining life out of me?"

My older sister, Leora, moves in for her own embrace. Her wise eyes shine. "Father and Mother had to return to the terraces. They will see you at the feast."

Alia flings a thick black braid over her shoulder and grabs my arm. "And it is our job to prepare you."

With that, she pulls me down the dirt path, giggling. The paths are uneven, curving with the slope of the valley. They are tricky to navigate on the best of days, and after this morning's trial, it takes all my concentration not to fall on my face. Alia's enthusiasm is infectious though, and I make a gamely effort as Leora makes more stately progress alongside.

We take a wandering hen by surprise as we careen around a bend. The poor bird squawks and flaps her wings, and Alia squeals in turn, windmilling her arms to keep from trampling the creature. Leora comes to the rescue, catching Alia's waist from behind. For a moment, we are a wobbly tangle of arms and legs, and it's only by some miracle that we don't collapse altogether. Alia's crying from laughter now, and I'm smiling as well. But Leora's expression sobers suddenly, and I turn my head to follow her gaze.

A cluster of Amparan soldiers lounge by a stand of bamboo. One is a blond northerner. Another is a brown-skinned recruit from the southern territories, while others have the honey-colored complexion of the central empire. All of them, though, wear arrogance like mantles over their shoulders, and far too many look at my sisters and me in a way that makes me want to scrub their gazes off my skin. Leora squares her shoulders and deliberately resumes walking down the path. Alia and I follow her lead. After a few moments, the soldiers return their attention to their dice game.

When the Dara people surrendered peacefully to Amparan forces a generation ago, one of the stipulations, besides the yearly tithes, was that we would house battalions of soldiers that passed through our lands. One such group arrived five days ago. As always, our village leader split the battalion into groups to be hosted by each family. My mother, father, sisters, and I moved our cots to one side of our house so three foot soldiers could roll out their bedrolls on the other. It's never pleasant, having the soldiers about. Feeding all these extra mouths stretches our supplies, and not all the soldiers follow the Imperial Army's code of honor. Some have fingers that all too easily sweep valuables into their pockets, while others are aggressively friendly with the women. But the alternative is worse. The empire might be strict with those who surrender to them, but they are absolutely ruthless against those who resist. Those peoples have their homes burned to the ground, their people enslaved and shipped to the central empire. It's the thought of these stories, carried back by those who travel beyond Dara's borders, that makes me swallow the resentment in my chest as we walk by.

We're quiet the rest of the way. Leora pauses just outside our bamboo cottage, and I know she's wondering if the soldiers lodging with us are inside. But when she pushes the door open, the house is empty.

Leora smiles, regaining a bit of her cheer, and pulls me inside. "Come. You'll be the most beautiful healer Dara has ever celebrated."

They set to work immediately. Alia weaves colorful ribbons through my long black hair as Leora takes out my best silk dress, which she's washed and pressed. Then Leora pulls out a red sash, and my breath catches. Healer's sashes are usually plain red, the color of life, but this one has been embroidered with purple and green threads. Repeated along its length, subtle enough to avoid attention but clear enough to be seen, are images of the purple vel flower. It is said that the First Healer was taught the art of potions by the Goddess herself, and that the first lesson was vel tea for flu. Once the First Healer mastered the healing arts, the Goddess sent him forth to guard the curtain between life and death and ensure that none pass through before their time.

"Kaylah will present this to you at your ceremony," Leora says. The embroidery is fine and even, clearly the work of Leora's patient hands. For the second time today, my eyes prickle with tears. Soon my hair is pinned up, and my dress caresses my skin like a blessing. Leora smooths some berry juice onto my cheeks and lips, and then we're back out the door.

We smell the roasting meat before we see the bonfire. A shout greets my arrival, and people crowd around me. My neighbor, whose belly swells large with her first child, embraces me and tells me she wants me to be present at her baby's birth. Others follow in quick succession, taking my hand, offering their well-wishes. And then, I see my mother and father waiting by the bonfire.

My mother's face breaks into a smile when I reach her. She pulls me close and rubs my back as if to assure herself that I am in one piece. "You passed your trial."

My father, his face lined by years on the crop terraces, clasps my shoulders. "My daughter, a full healer at seventeen. The Goddess smiles on our family."

The ceremony itself is short. Head Healer Doron calls me forward and reads vows for me to repeat, the very ones that the Goddess gave to the first healer. I will use this sacred knowledge to heal and not to harm. I will brave the jaws of death to save those the Goddess has chosen. Then, with the village watching, my master Kaylah ties the sash around my waist.

The feast starts in earnest after that. Wine is poured, and after everyone has had their fill, some village boys pull out tambourines and pipes, and the dancing starts. I'd been worried about Amparan soldiers intruding on the festivities, but surprisingly few of them show up. It's curious, since they must be able to smell the venison roasting, but I count it a blessing.

Much later that evening, I'm sitting at the edge of the festivities when Kaylah comes to join me. "Is the day catching up to you?" she asks.

Indeed, my limbs ache as I move over on the bench to make room for her. Kaylah sweeps her heavy black hair over her shoulder as she sits down.

"If I'd only been bitten by one creature this morning," I say, "perhaps I'd still be dancing."


Excerpted from Rosemarked by Livia Blackburne. Copyright © 2017 Andy Marino. Excerpted by permission of Disney Book Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Rosemarked 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 30 reviews.
Aila More than 1 year ago
While I enjoyed this author’s previous work, Midnight Thief, which you can find my review here, Rosemarked was on another level. Readers can really tell how much Blackburne’s writing has grown as she continues to write in-depth stories with a multitude of characters. In Rosemarked, we follow the first-person POV’s of Zivah and Dineas, both of whom get embroiled in a plot that could lead to war. Like the blurb says, there’s a very heavy bent towards the politics going on and less on the action, causing for a slower pace. I didn’t mind it at all though, because discovering the nuances of the world and following Zivah and Dineas’s character development was worth it. "I’ve memorized the makings of hundreds of drafts and invented dozens of others. But despite my years of study, despite the skill that everyone tell me I have, I cannot cure myself." Zivah was a character after my heart. Both her and Dineas goes through so much in this book, and I absolutely fell in love with them as characters and people. She comes from a village called Dara and is lauded for her healing skills, despite the fact that she is hit by the rose plague itself, leaving her rosemarked. When Commander Arxa, a powerful Amparan, comes to ask her to treat the infected people in Sehmar City, she makes the difficult decision in leaving her home to an unfamiliar place where she would be looked down upon for being a victim of the plague. Despite the fact that she’s a healer, she has hidden strengths with her potions - and poisons. Her character really shows how you don’t need to be a fighter to be a badass heroine with dangerous skills. Zivah is at the forefront of the progression of the rose plague and I’m excited to see how she unravels its secrets in the following book. Dineas is almost a complete contrast to Zivah, personality-wise. They are both strong characters, but while she’s a healer, he’s a warrior and fighter. Dineas comes from the Shidadi tribe and was captured by the Amparans. When the book starts, he’s haunted by the abuse of his past and driven for revenge. The Amparans have treated the Shidadi tribe cruelly, and their hegemony over the land has caused rebel groups to come up - such as the one that recruits Zivah and Dineas. It takes extreme courage for them to step up to the challenge of spying in the Amparan empire. "It’s just the two of us this time: the rosemarked healer and the soldier with no fear of her disease. Together somehow, we are to steal Ampara’s secrets." While Zivah treats the people marked with the rose plague, Dineas goes through forced amnesia and joins the ranks of Arxa’s army. This creates an almost separate person out of him, as he goes in and out of amnesia. It makes the romance a bit more complicated, for sure, but also creates conflicts in his character and story. Dineas finds himself making good friends with the other soldiers in the army - will there be a day where he can’t come back to his memories? The slow and subtle romance in this book was exactly how I like it. There’s no love triangle or too much drama, but there’s a good touch of angst that keeps readers on their toes. I really love Zivah and Dineas as characters and they work well together in their respective fields. *sighs* Definitely a ship that I’m onboard with, and one that I can’t wait to see more developments from.
Mel-Loves-Books More than 1 year ago
“First comes the fever and the delirium. It kills most people up front, though a few manage a stay of execution. Their fever ebbs, and they regain their strength, but their rash stays red, which means they can still pass the disease to others. Those are the rosemarked, and they’re banished from society until the fever reclaims them a few years later.” This book was much more than I was expecting. It is very little fluff or romance, only hints of it really. It has lots of mystery, suspense, and political intrigue. I admit it took me a lot longer to warm up to either of the main characters than I prefer, but I was constantly wanting to know what happens next. The story is very well developed and very original. Overall I liked the book and I give it 4 stars. I definitely intend to read the next book in the story soon.
thereadingchick More than 1 year ago
When her village, and the soldiers in it, are sickened by fever only a few survive. If you are a survivor and have umber marks you can live freely among society. However, if you live and are rosemarked, this means that you can still spread the disease and at some point in the future you will catch fever again and die from it. Zivah is a healer in her village when the fever spreads and while helping the sick she catches it, survives and is rosemarked destined to live alone, an outcast among her own. Dineas is a prisoner of the Amparan army when he is sickened. He does survive, but is thought dead and thrown in among the corpses. When he survives, he is umber marked. His tribe, at war with the Amparan’s hatches a plan with Zivah’s village that will send them both undercover as spies. Zivah’s knowledge with herbs and potions are used to help Dineas forget all of the torture he had received from his captors so he can live among them and report on their actions. Rosemarked excelled at building a world that was easy to understand and a story that although political was brimming with emotions and drama. Zivah as a healer took her “do no harm” vows very seriously and she walked a fine line when giving Dineas potions that would make him forget his past life and allow him to live among the Amparan’s and even move up in their soldiers ranks. I found that when Dineas “remembered” who he was and thought of his actions within the Amparan army the plot was more interesting. Except for the fact that Zivah came up with the potions, I found she was kind of irrelevant. The conflict throughout the book was built around Dineas character and I was more drawn to his story. The relationship between them grew from uneasy alliance to friendship and then more. But there was always an uneasiness in Zivah because what Dineas felt, although not false, was certainly not based upon true reality. It was based upon the life he was living in that moment. That was an interesting plot, although I felt the reader’s feelings were left in a to be continued ending that was frustrating and I wasn’t satisfied with the conclusion. Will I care enough to continue with the second novel when it comes out? I’m still mulling it over. To be continued.
thereadingchick More than 1 year ago
When her village, and the soldiers in it, are sickened by fever only a few survive. If you are a survivor and have umber marks you can live freely among society. However, if you live and are rosemarked, this means that you can still spread the disease and at some point in the future you will catch fever again and die from it. Zivah is a healer in her village when the fever spreads and while helping the sick she catches it, survives and is rosemarked destined to live alone, an outcast among her own. Dineas is a prisoner of the Amparan army when he is sickened. He does survive, but is thought dead and thrown in among the corpses. When he survives, he is umber marked. His tribe, at war with the Amparan’s hatches a plan with Zivah’s village that will send them both undercover as spies. Zivah’s knowledge with herbs and potions are used to help Dineas forget all of the torture he had received from his captors so he can live among them and report on their actions. Rosemarked excelled at building a world that was easy to understand and a story that although political was brimming with emotions and drama. Zivah as a healer took her “do no harm” vows very seriously and she walked a fine line when giving Dineas potions that would make him forget his past life and allow him to live among the Amparan’s and even move up in their soldiers ranks. I found that when Dineas “remembered” who he was and thought of his actions within the Amparan army the plot was more interesting. Except for the fact that Zivah came up with the potions, I found she was kind of irrelevant. The conflict throughout the book was built around Dineas character and I was more drawn to his story. The relationship between them grew from uneasy alliance to friendship and then more. But there was always an uneasiness in Zivah because what Dineas felt, although not false, was certainly not based upon true reality. It was based upon the life he was living in that moment. That was an interesting plot, although I felt the reader’s feelings were left in a to be continued ending that was frustrating and I wasn’t satisfied with the conclusion. Will I care enough to continue with the second novel when it comes out? I’m still mulling it over. To be continued.
Jael Hansen More than 1 year ago
The story centers around Dineas, a warrior griping with the trauma of war, and Zivah, a healer who contracted a contagious disease and can no longer heal people. They are asked to go undercover in an attempt to fight the Amparan empire. I really liked the story. There is a political element to the story, which was well done (and I feel like YA doesn't incorporate political machinations a lot of the time). The story had a lovely pace to it and the characters were great. Though there were times I didn't want to read the story cause then I would finish it. Wow was this book well-researched. It was so easy to feel the hopelessness of Zivah's situation, she's a teenager who's been handed a death sentence. Also, Dineas was very interesting too. I do like that Blackburne did bring attention to PTSD with his character. Blackburne did an excellent job of portraying the emotional state of the characters. I do want to point out that two side characters are alluded to being lovers, it brought some nice LGBT+ representation to the series. There is a romance subplot in the story (thankfully no love-triangle/square/octagon). Bonus: it's a bit of a slow burn/buildup to the romance. No insta-love!
itsmejessica More than 1 year ago
What an enthralling story! The main characters are likeable, the premise is beyond intriguing, and the pacing is solid. I was thoroughly entertained whilst reading this and am very much looking forward to the next book when it comes out!
Annarea Impas More than 1 year ago
Rosemarked is the first book I have read from Livia Blackburne’s works, and I’m pleased about it. Rosemarked is a story of Zivah, a healer from Dara which got infected with rose plague, an illness that can’t be healed; and Dineas, a Shidadi skilled soldier. The similarities they have despite their differences is that, both their country are taken over by Ampara’s soldiers. Under circumstance, they have agreed to take on a suicide mission which has one goal- to free their people from Amparan’s cruelty. Rosemarked is a fast-paced story with such incredible plot twists. In the story, both sides are fighting for what they think is “right”, this book unmasked each side of the story as to what was the real reason for the rebellion of the other and the reason of taken over other’s place of the other. “Who is right during a war?” this will make you think. Zivah, is the youngest high healer in Dara and then rose plague came that changed her life. Some people die right away, some got rosemarks or umbermarks. Zivah got infected with rose plague too while healing others and she happens to be a rosemarked. She can’t help others because of her illness but when an opportunity comes knocking at her door, she might just despite her being a rosemarked. Dineas, is a skilled soldier, who got torture by the hands of Amparan. Eventually, he’s reunited with his tribe and seeks vengeance for himself and his fallen kin. He’s willing to do anything to free them in Amparan rule even if it costs his own life. Together, they go for a mission they weren’t sure of if they can pull it off or just die, but these two characters are determined enough to free their people from cruelty. This book is written in alternating POV, which I adored more. I love dual narratives, but sometimes I do like the other more than the other but the characters of this book are just so interesting that I enjoyed both of their POVs. I really enjoyed reading Rosemarked more than I expected. I’m glad I gave Rosemarked a chance, though YA fantasy is not my cup of tea, magics and all bores me anyway (but Zivah’s healing abilities is magical tho )I love everything about this story, it was worth to read! I can’t deny. YA fantasy fans need this book in their life. Definitely you’re going to enjoy every minute you spent reading this brilliant book.This book has a touch of romance too which makes it more adorable and interesting. The only downside of this book is when I got to the end, I was emotional reading the epilogue because I want more of them. This book will really make you crave for more. Can’t wait for Umbertouched, definitely reading it right away when it’s available.
TheBookEnigma More than 1 year ago
In the magical world of Rosemarked, healer Zivah falls plague to the deadly Rose plague, leaving her with only years to live and isolating her from society. At the same time, solider Dineas finally escapes from the clutches of the Amparan Empire with a renewed passion to free his tribe from its rule before it is too late. Trust together with nothing left to lose, Zivah and Dineas must complete a deadly mission to spy on the capital so they can fulfill their wishes and save their loved ones from dying by the hands of an enemy kingdom filled with secrets and risk. This book had so many amazing aspects, for one: the research. If you ever want to read a book that an author clearly puts a lot of effort into, this book is definitely on for you. I loved how Blackburne found a way to put descriptive detail into everything without making it seem like too much. From the descriptions of various tribes to herbal remedies and military campaigns, when I was reading this book I didn’t feel like I was reading, but I was living. So many books these days have half-baked ideas and cheap attempts at descriptions and Blackburne definitely blew those books all out of the water with the amount of research that she put into this which leads me to the next fabulous thing about this book; the plot. Wow, was this a story to remember. Based in a world much like the medieval era and filled with walled cities and suffering villages, it was both a refreshing fictional world and clear of any sort of magic. I really enjoyed this because so many books written in this sort of setting are often not without magic and while Rosemarked doesn’t have a hint of it, it is still immersive and capitating, leaving me glued to each word. This sort of uniqueness was clear throughout the plot as characters that are often in love with each other aren’t, leaving room for character development. Not only could these characters be clear of these tropes, but it makes it so every move that they make is a surprise. I loved this plot for this very reason. So many books are set with clear and straight-forwards story lines while this one was able to navigate its world of disease and corrupt military in a new way. When I first began to read this book, I was sure of what way the story will originally take me and boy was I wrong. I would recommend this book for fans of The Queens Thief because of the similarity to its world. Fantasy lovers will also love this book because of its well written and immersive storytelling and world building. If you are looking for characters that grow off of typical YA tropes and defy your expectation with every word, you will not be let down. I think that it is safe to say that I am more that excited for the next book in this series.
BookLoverGirl39 More than 1 year ago
This story will keep you on your toes. Zivah has to make choices that effect not just her own life but that of her people and Dineas. You feel so awed by her accomplishments at the beginning of the book and then tragedy strikes her. But in the end, it gives her the opportunity to help protect her people from the Amparan Empire. The things both Zivah and Dineas have to go through while spying on the Amparans will keep you turning the pages. I loved how both characters were able to use creatures that they cared for to thier advantage. It was also interesting to get the story from both Zivah and Dineas’ POV. The chapter headers were beautiful too. I have never read anything like this before and am looking forward to the sequel. I would reccommend this to anyone who enjoys distopians.
ruthsic More than 1 year ago
Having read Blackburne's Midnight Thief series, I already knew that I'm in for some good world building and great storytelling, and this first book in a new fantasy series certainly didn't disappoint. A fantasy world loosely based on the expansion of the Persian empire, Ampara is an empire that has taken over it's neighboring cultures. Perhaps the highlight of this novel is how it presents the PTSD of Dineas, which also serves as the basis for the major arc if the plot - him going undercover as an amnesiac spy. Helping him infiltrate the Amparan military is Zivah, the other main character who, after saving a Commander from the rose plague, herself becomes infected and Rosemarked. She is a talented healer, and knows how to make complex concoctions, including the one that makes him lose his memory (he volunteered for it) so that his trauma wouldn't come in the way of his job. Now, another thing to consider is the dehumanization of infected people in this world. They are treated as outcasts (think leprosy) and kept away from the general populace in a gated community, where it's a bit of anarchy going on. Meanwhile, Dineas enrols and becomes a loyal soldier of the very army he hates. From time to time, she brings him out of the amnesia and he can report, but it soon becomes apparent to him that the person he is when he is an amnesiac is different from himself. This brings out his questions of loyalty and feelings and how he can distinguish between them. Meanwhile, there is also a romantic arc going on - the other Dineas starts falling for Zivah and she, despite knowing he's just a part of another person, starts having feelings for him. This makes things complicated as she definitely doesn't want to take advantage of him, yet for the sake of her mission, she can't keep away from him. Also she can't keep pushing him away without telling him the real reason - and the first Dineas, though slowly warming up to her and starting to respect her as more than just a Dara maiden, is not in love with her. Yet. Zivah is still seeking out a cure, but she is also learning new techniques, understanding the virtue of patience but there is also the moral dilemma about how much she can use her skills as a healer to aid the mission while not causing harm to people. She is quite a force, too - like, imagine becoming a spy with no training and having to constantly balance the double lives you're leading! I loved the fact that this book is both driven by the politics of the Amparan empire, yet also by the character arcs. It's an interesting story overall, and told through some really well written characters. One of my problems with it is maybe the inconsistency of the quarantine measures. I can't help it as a bio grad! Sometimes it comes across as very strictly enforced whereas sometimes they forget that people can be fomites, too, if not carriers! Also, there is the fact that despite the high stakes, these two get away with pretty much their whole mission quite smoothly? Overall, a great start to the series and I'm eager for Umbertouched.
BookFreakOut More than 1 year ago
I quite enjoyed Rosemarked, especially once the action rolled into the heart of the Empire. The worldbuilding sits in a similar vein to Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes, with the concept of the rose plague also evoking thoughts of Marie Lu’s Legend and The Young Elites. One of the most interesting aspects of Rosemarked is the memory-altering potion Dineas takes in order to be able to infiltrate the Amparan army as a blank slate untouched by his desire for vengeance. It creates a sort of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde dichotomy that speaks strongly to the effects of PTSD and trauma. Amnesiac Dineas is cheerful, lighthearted, untouched by the torture and devastation of his buried life. Zivah struggles to reconcile the two personas, wondering if any remnant of Dineas’ joyful side still lingers in his true self. I thought Zivah was an especially solid healer character; I appreciated how seriously she takes her vows and carefully weighs how they match up against her espionage activities. Also, she’s not just a simple “put some aloe on the burn” healer – in her world, being a healer requires a staunch enough spirit to not only harvest venom from deadly animals, but to take injections of it to build up a resistance. Not for the faint of heart. There’s a scene early on where she uses her fearfully venomous snake Diadem as a means of self-defense, and it’s easily one of my favorite moments of the book. I’d recommend Rosemarked to any fan of YA fantasy; it has the imaginative worldbuilding, well-rounded characters and multi-faceted relationships that readers have come to expect from a genre that seems to get better every year. It’s an immersive tale with strong themes of personal sacrifice, trauma, and how memory informs identity.
NovelKnight More than 1 year ago
I had doubts about Rosemarked. I hadn’t heard much going into it and I ended up spending several days trying to push through the first 100 pages or so. A rough beginning led me to finishing the book with a craving for the sequel! The book bounces back and forth between the perspectives of Zivah, a healer who contracts an deadly disease, and Dineas, a soldier who’s been through so much already but still wants to fight for his people and their freedom. Amidst their personal struggles, the world they live in is under siege by the rose plague as well as the empire invading the surrounding lands and leaving little behind. Those who have described Rosemarked as a political fantasy are definitely right. Everything happening comes down to the schemes of those higher up and the conflicts between different groups of people. I thought Blackburne did a great job with the characters. Zivah is more reserved, highly intelligent, and patient which is the perfect compliment to Dineas who’s more into taking action and often takes on the role of protector. They have their own conflicts with each other as their respective cultures have been at odds in the past, but came together to face a stronger enemy. That Zivah was a healer was cool since I read about female assassins and warriors pretty often in YA fantasy and enjoyed the change of pace. The scientist in me also appreciated all the talk about the healing arts too. And don’t get me wrong, I loved Dineas too but I wouldn’t say he had that extra “wow” factor for me. Their romance was something that I hoped for the entire book. I was shipping these two from the moment they met but was only partially satisfied with how things turned out but that’s not because it was badly written. No, Blackburne took “slow burn” to the extreme and now I need to get my hands on the sequel ASAP. To be honest, due to my biggest complaint about the book (which I’ll get to in a moment), I ended up reading mostly for this romance element tied in with the story. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the world-building and the plot overall, but the characters made me want to read Rosemarked above all else. Now I had one major problem with this book and it comes down to the pacing. The story was good. The characters were good. And, honestly, I think the scenes included were necessary to really understand everything. But this book was just so slow to start out. It eventually picked up but took so long to get there that I started losing interest several times over and went for other books instead. Which is a shame because if the pacing had been better I think this could have easily been in my top ten favorite reads of the year. Rosemarked is interesting, unique, and definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for something a bit different in YA fantasy. Can’t wait for the sequel, Umbertouched!
books4susie More than 1 year ago
Ok, this book did take me a bit to get into. It wasn’t until Zivah and Dineas begin to interact did the story draw me in. These two are not friends and only begrudgingly agree to work together. As their relationship progresses and they begin to infiltrate their respective areas in the capital city, the action picks up. Told in alternating viewpoints, readers find out what exactly happened to cause the plague outbreak and why. Readers are left with a cliffhanger ending that sets up the upcoming battle.
taramichelle More than 1 year ago
Rosemarked was a strong beginning to what promises to be an intriguing series. I absolutely loved the concept of this book, the political espionage aspect really appealed to me. Additionally, I think Blackburne included some thought-provoking social commentary through the inclusion of the plague and how its victims were treated in society. This book was really well-written and I loved how the characters interacted. The scene where Zivah and Dineas meet for the first time made me laugh out loud. In general, the characters were the highlight of this novel. I loved watching how the relationships between Zivah, Dineas, and Dineas’s alternate personality developed. I do think that the world-building could have been a bit stronger. In particular, I would have liked to see more history of the empire and, particularly since this novel was so politically oriented, learn more about the current political situation. However, I do applaud Blackburne for how nuanced her world was. There wasn’t one side that was purely good and one that was purely evil. While there wasn’t really an antagonist in this novel, there was something mentioned at the end that made me think Umbertouched will reveal some of the secrets that were only hinted at in this book. There were definitely some parts of Rosemarked that surprised me, I’m intrigued to see where the story goes next. I really enjoyed Rosemarked, the characters were interesting and I liked the plot in general. I would recommend to fans of YA fantasy who like some political intrigue. *Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Laura Mauro More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was very good. I thought it was a very strong mix between the cinder series and ember in the ashes. I really enjoyed not only the lead characters but also the plot. I thought the world building was done so well and It was easy to become invested in these characters. I enjoyed how this story avoided the insta love issue and made for interesting story. I did think the book had slow moments but overall I was captured from page one. I am very invested in where this series goes in book two!
Samantha Sargent More than 1 year ago
This book was amazing. I received it through a book subscription, and loved it. This book is filled with interesting plot points and twists, and I loved the characters. I enjoyed the establishment of the world, and the way the disease is expanded on. Maybe because I'm trying to be a nurse myself, but I especially loved Zivah. I enjoyed the established of a strong female character whose whole story didn't revolve around fighting and behaving like a man. Additionally, I liked that she stayed true to her morals as much as possible, refusing to kill someone intentionally, or exposing a friend, even if it would have made her life easier. And while I generally don't enjoy romance, I did enjoy this book's. I liked that it was gradual, no love at first sight silliness. And it made me really sad that they couldn't just have a simple story.
The_Belle More than 1 year ago
Zivah was considered one of the blessed ones. Having found her calling as a healer at an early age, she devoted her time and energy almost exclusively to the art of saving those around her. Under the expert tutelage of her teachers of the class of master healers, Zivah learned how to weave simple herbs into complex potions that could bring the sick back from the brink of death. She learned the reverence to be found at the feet of the Goddess; the one who doles out the power of healing carefully and with great thought, and the one who had chosen to bestow Her gift upon the pretty village girl. Zivah found her purpose. Wrapped up in the comforts of the new life that awaits her after graduation, the quiet chaos around her is none of her concern. It is not her responsibility to dwell on the mindful arts of war and conquering. Zivah's place is in the hospital or at a bedside, where she can put her hands to good use. But when the rose plague begins to spread curiously and unexpectedly across the troop of imperial soldiers occupying her village, Zivah's world must collide with those who would do her people harm. Despite her meticulous precautions, Zivah finds herself infected with the dreaded rose plague. There is no known cure in existence for the fever-ridden illness, and there are only three ways out: Death, forever plagued and a lifetime of quarantine, or the true blessing of the gods - to come out of the fever umbertouched; meaning, free from the rose plague and immune to it forevermore. Unfortunately for the newly marked healer, the plague took it's own course and decided to claim Zivah as one of its cruelest victims. She is forever rosemarked; her skin bears the marks of the disease and she must be put into strict isolation away from anyone who does not also have the illness, or the few who are lucky enough to be umbertouched. What can a healer who cannot be healed do? Her days as a healer are over . . . or so she thought. Dineas was nearly broken by his stint in an Amparan prison. Beaten, tortured and eventually thrown out like trash to die after succumbing to the rose plague fevers, he was thankfully saved by a passing villager and nursed to health. Sent on his way as soon as he was able to walk, Dineas slowly made his way back to his tribe - the warrior people of Shidadi. Upon the reunion, he is told of the whispers of a plan being hatched in the Amapran Empire. The lands and villages of the gentle people in the outskirts of the city are sure to be threatened with attack as the Emperor seeks to extend the boundaries of his territories. A war that may eliminate everyone in the small villages and clusters of homesteads is sure to occur. In an effort to save those innocent lives, the Shidadi leaders have drummed up a plot of their own, and they need Dineas to help implement it. They also need the help of someone on the inside. When the invitation to come and settle in Amapara's rosemarked community and resume her work as a healer reaches Zivah, she is equal parts confused and intrigued. She'd done her best to save the revered Commander Arxa when he'd come down with the rose plague along with the other soldiers while in occupation of her village. But, she had done so mostly for fear that if the man died, the Empire would come down on her village with an iron fist and blame. She never expected that his thanks would come in the form of a job in the city, and she is tempted. Living alone in isolation is more than lonely, it is dreadful
Waverly Runion More than 1 year ago
This book has been floating around my corner of instagram the past couple of weeks. The cover was so gorgeous that I became intrigued and picked up a copy at one of Livia Blackburne's tour stops! The story primarily follows two characters: Zivah and Dineas. Zivah is a newly authorized healer in a small village being controlled by the Amparan Empire. Dineas is a warrior from a tribe that has not yet submitted to the Amparan army. After the rose plague sweeps the land, Dineas is left cured and immune to ever contracting the disease again, while Zivah is left as a live carrier of the disease. The two are sent to the heart of Ampara to bring down the empire that has opressed both of their peoples for years. The caveat is that before embarking on their journey, Zivah helps Dineas by creating a potion that will take away his memory, so that he is better able to blend into the people of the empire he despises. An ever-present theme in the novel is memory and whether or not you are the same person without your memories. Dineas’s character is handled very well in this matter and I could feel his struggle with who he was and who he was becoming throughout every dose of potion. A theme that was touched upon less was Zivah’s struggle coming to terms with her transition from skilled healer to live plague carrier. I wish more time was spent exploring this, as I think it is one of the more poignant emotional themes threaded throughout the story. Blackburne’s prose is succinct. She doesn’t spend a lot of ink on long, detailed descriptions or subtle turn of phrase. This makes the novel a fast-paced read, however it is at the expense of a more fully developed relationship between the two characters. All that being said, I couldn’t put the book down. The elements that Blackburne executes well, she executes brilliantly. I look forward to the conclusion of Zivah and Dineas’s story!
bookvenger More than 1 year ago
I honestly absolutely loved this book! It was really unique and everything with Dineas' memory was really interesting. I loved Zivah and Dineas to no end, watching them work together and slowly form a bond that will never break. I loved the dichotomy between memory-free Dineas and the real Dineas, though he also absolutely broke my heart. This was a seriously amazing, well-written, epic book and I highly recommend it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I received a copy of this book from Net-Galley for an honest review. I don't know what I was expecting, but I loved Livia Blackburne's other books, so when I had the opportunity to read this one I jumped at the chance. As a special educator, I'm always on the lookout for books where characters overcome diversity. Zivah does that and more. After working for years to become a healer, she contracts the Rose Plague and believes she will no longer be able to practice. She doesn't let that stop her; when she has the opportunity to help her village and fight the Amparan Empire, she does so, while still holding fast to her vows as a healer. It was great seeing how she was serious about helping everyone in the Rose Marked community, and to see how torn she was about how to respond to Dineas' affections.It was admirable and again a unique take on a common trope. I don't know what to say about Dineas except that his chapters were beyond creative. Seeing how he deals with their plan to fight back against the Empire kept me on the edge of my seat. I loved the opportunity to see multiple facets of his personality when dealing with both Zivah and his friends was beautiful and heartbreaking. As I read so much, and freakishly fast, I've gotten really good at predicting where things are going, but the ending really threw me for a loop. totally surprised me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is one of those reasons you should never judge a book by it’s cover! I wasn’t sure what to expect (a fairytale retelling maybe?) but what I got was a vivid fantasy with an almost Asian setting and high stakes. While the action wasn't fast-paced, the tension was so deliciously woven throughout the story and the characters’ lives I couldn't put the book down. And oh, the characters! The characters were one of the best parts of the book. I love Zivah with her desperate fears and fragile dreams for the future. And Dineas - he was so self-loathing and lost. In the end, Rosemarked was an intriguing read that presented a lot of risk and unspoken questions I’m dying to have answered. I’m not sure how this story will end, but I can’t wait for the next book in the series!
MegPut99 More than 1 year ago
I really, really enjoyed this book! It was suspenseful and intriguing up until the very end. The rose plague takes the lives of many in this world and leaves others with marks foretelling its return. Zivah is a young but accomplished healer and Dineas is a skilled warrior. Both are from different peoples but are also, unknowingly, on the same team. Thrown together to infiltrate the enemy, they don't exactly care much for each other but will have to work together for the good of their people. In order to gain access to the enemy both have to leave their people and live in the world of the empire. I loved both characters and found myself rooting for them to get together. I have hope for Zivah and Dineas in the second book and can't wait to go back to this world!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I especially recommend Rosemarked if you enjoy character-driven stories! Rosemarked's two main characters, Zivah and Dineas, are very different and clash from the start. Zivah is a healer, and I loved her dedication to healing, helping people, and improving her skills. Dineas is a very complex character as well, and I could feel both their emotions and struggles through Livia Blackburne's wonderful writing. The plight of the rosemarked was especially heartbreaking. Rosemarked is rather slow-paced, with less frequent action than other books in this genre, but I actually found this to feel realistic rather than being a shortcoming. I appreciated really feeling the time, efforts, and emotional toll of Zivah and Dineas' mission. I cannot wait to read the sequel and see where the story goes!
LysistrataBrookings More than 1 year ago
That cover tho. Great read. The world was rich and the rose plague was a horrifying thing for these characters to deal with. The stakes of dealing with a terminal illness are given weight, and the characters are given dignity, yet some very heartbreaking vulnerabilities. I’m interested in the sequel, because so much of this book is two characters interacting with one another, and one of those characters ends up leaving near the end. I’m curious to see how Dineas and Zivah do without their fallen friend. I’m also 100% here for this slow burn romance. Because the burn is so. Slow. And I love it. There’s lots of groundwork for these two to connect and work together.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When I picked up this book, I thought it was going to be another cliche, poorly plotted fantasy novel with an unoriginal and badly written romance. I was wrong. So, so wrong. I wasn't expecting what Rosemarked actually is: a political fantasy novel dealing with the ethics of healing, spying, tyranny, and radicalized patriotism with remarkable world-building, beautifully written and flawed characters, and a slow-burn romance that was enjoyable to read and didn't feel at all forced. Zivah is a lot of what made this book for me. Her internal struggles dealing with her status of a healer and using that status and her medicines for harm were surprisingly poignant and very realistic. She is SO dynamic and her friendship with Mehtap is so sweet. Dineas was a little bit of a brooder, but, unlike most "brooders," he definitely wasn't the typical deep angst love interest in most YA novels nowadays. He has PTSD and struggles a lot, but still is able to forge connections with people. I absolutely hate the "male love interest seems like a bad guy and he doesn't treat the main female character well but twist! he is a good person and a good guy" trope that seems so prevalent in YA fiction nowadays (it perpetuates rape culture and the 'not all men' movement, which makes me want to barf), and at first I thought that Dineas would fit that trope. However, I was very pleasantly surprised to see that he didn't. He is a well-rounded, fleshed out character who loves his family and friends. He is working hard to get back into the world after suffering for many years. I went from liking him to not being his biggest fan to liking him again. I look forward to see where his character goes next. I am always a sucker for well-written YA fantasy, and this is the best one I've read since the False Prince trilogy. I am highly excited to see where this series goes.