Title: The Golden Lily
Author: Richelle Mead
Series: Bloodlines, #2
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Publisher: Razorbill (Imprint of Penguin)
Date Published: August 23rd, 2011
Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets—and human lives.
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.
Should she trust the Alchemists—or her heart?
Warning: If you haven’t read all of the Vampire Academy books, then this could contain spoilers for those. Otherwise, all spoilers are hidden behind tags and clearly defined.
In Bloodlines we were taken into the point of view of Sydney, who in Vampire Academy plays a small role, but who is part of the same dynamic world — only in a very different area of it, seeing as she’s an Alchemist who has had it engrained into her from birth that all vampires are evil. Sure, Alchemist’s will work with them on occasion, but it’s all business and only business — anything else would be treason. Sydney has been assigned to help assist in keeping Jill Mastrano (Dragomir) from the public eye because her very existence could disrupt the entire Moroi world as a whole.
Since Bloodlines, Sydney has come a long way in her feelings towards vampires, and in The Golden Lily she finds herself seeing friends in the Moroi and Dhampire associates she’s been assigned to work with — especially Adrian. These feelings and her wish to push them down lead her to dating a human guy who, for all intents and purposes, should be absolutely perfect for her in every way. But the more time she spends with him, the more she realizes that normal sometimes means boring and the friends she’s found in the group she’s come to know in Palm Springs are not something she’ll find around every corner.
I enjoyed The Golden Lily, especially the developing relationship between Sydney and Adrian. I wouldn’t have really put them together given the type of people they are — complete opposites really — but as this series continues I can understand why they would be great together and why Adrian especially needs Sydney in order to pull his life back together.
However, despite enjoying it, I didn’t get quite as sucked into it as with Bloodlines. While the side story with the human boyfriend was important for growing Sydney’s character, these scenes were kind of boring as well. A lot of the story seemed to go a bit slow until the last seventy pages or so of the book when the action and plot picked up a great deal. Not to my surprise, Mead ended this one with a bit of a cliff hanger in some respects, but it will be exciting to see where that goes in the next book.
I’m still enjoying Sydney’s point of view for the most part and I like that she grew a lot in this book and stepped outside of many of her prejudices towards vampires and magic. She’s slowly progressing, but I hope that soon she’ll 100% see how warped of a view she’s grown up with and understand that the Alchemists might not be right about everything in this situation.
Overall, I’m still enjoying the series, but this book wasn’t as good as the first one. It did seem to do a lot of setup for what I think the next book will be about though, so hopefully the action and excitement — and maybe even romance — will pick up in that book a bit more. I’m definitely loving that Adrian is getting some time for healing and that Sydney is playing a big role in that. I would love to see this series start to head towards a larger endgame like Vampire Academy did because I think that would help tremendously with the pace of the books and given them a direction to head in. But even so, Mead is a wonderful writer and as usual I enjoy reading pretty much anything she writes.