This review will contain spoilers for both the Vampire academy series as well as Bloodlines the first book in this series. Reviews for these can be found here.
The Golden Lily was published in 2012, and is the second book in the Bloodlines series by Richelle Mead. It takes place shortly after the events of Bloodlines, in the aftermath of the strigoi attack and Keith’s departure. The official synopsis:
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. Alchemists 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 her 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 Braydon, 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.
The Golden Lily is a very character heavy book. It focusses on the Palm Springs gang, and most of the book is spent exploring the different characters. Especially the relationships between everyone and Sydney getting mor comfortable around moroi is something that takes up a lot of space in the book.
That being said the book isn’t void of other elements, the work for a strigoi cure is present, but even that adds a lot in terms of relationships and character dynamics, with Adrian being confronted with Dimitri. This exploration of a possible cure also means that we get to learn a bit more about spirit, but once again it’s very rooted in character development.
Another element we see explored more in this book is human magic, and while human magic is used as a way to develop Sydney’s character it is also very interesting to read about in general. The lore around it and the way it works and differs from moroi magic has been one of my favourite things to read about.
One of my favourite parts of reading The Golden Lily, was Sydney’s development, she starts questioning and making up her own ideas and opinions and it’s something that’s really interesting to read about. As I mentioned in my Bloodlines review Sydney is my absolute favourite character in the entire Vampire Academy universe, so seeing her develop and progress like she does in this book is amazing.
Overall the book lacks in action but makes up for it all in character and relationship development. It can be a bit slow to read if you’re used to action-packed novels, but worth it for the characters.