Reading Group Guide Bloodmarked
By Tracy Deonn About the Book
After awakening the dormant spirit of King Arthur, seventeen-year-old Bree Matthews is supposed to be the Crown Scion, the chosen one destined to lead the Order of the Round Table against the legion of demons. However, there is no unity within the Order. Some members of the the historically racist Legendborn society prevent Bree from being seen as the legitimate heir to the throne, because they cannot trace or acknowledge her lineage and view her as an “outsider.” Some of the Legendborn, who are supposed to remain loyal to the line of Arthur Pendragon and the hierarchy of the Order, question Bree’s ability to lead, in part because she is relatively untrained in battle and raised without their traditions. The Regents, meant to hold temporary leadership until King Arthur calls upon his descendant, will instead stop at nothing to maintain their power over the Order. To make matters worse, Bree’s lineage as both a Legendborn and a Rootcrafter makes her the most powerful descendant in the Line of Arthur, and yet she has no idea how to control her powers. Bree must also find Nick, the Scion of Lancelot, before the Regents do, as his life could be in jeopardy. As Bree and her friends run from the Regents and the threat of demonkind, she finds new allies, meets stronger enemies, and uncovers intricate schemes. Each new discovery shows her that she must protect the ones she loves, even if it means fighting battles she knows she cannot win. If she ever hopes to protect her friends, her family, and herself, she will have to learn to control her powers and listen to the voice she’s struggled to center: her own.Discussion Questions
1. Throughout the story, Bree’s maternal ancestors refer to her as a “wound turned weapon.” How has Bree turned her family’s wounds into weapons?
2. Even though they are the same magical element, Rootcrafters call magic “root” and the Legendborn call magic “aether.” Bree can wield both. How does Bree think of root and how does she think of aether?
3. How does Bree’s ancestral heritage impact her ability to wield aether as other Legendborn do? What advantages do other Legendborn Scion have in using aether that Bree does not? How does her ability to wield magic (or lack of ability) affect her position as Crown Scion?
4. When Bree uses too much of her root magic, reverberations of magic are felt throughout the Rootcrafter and Legendborn communities. The impact of her magic is the result of bringing too much power from the realm of the dead to the realm of the living, which upsets the balance on both sides. Why might Bree’s use of root disturb the balance between life and death?
5. During the funeral for the four fallen Scions and Squires, there is a lot of discussion about the “relief of forgetting.” Bree is offended by the idea of wanting to forget traumatic memories, while Arthur thinks forgetting is a weakness. Why might people want to forget about events that cause them pain? Why might people want to remember painful events? Do you think that forgetting one’s pain is a sign of weakness? Why or why not?
6. Depending on which ancestor she calls, Bree is referred to as “Daughter of Daughters” or “Daughter of Sons.” Why do you think the Legendborn and Rootcrafter ancestors use different terms when they refer to Bree?
7. One of Bree’s ancestors tells her the following: “‘Before you learn to fight, you must first protect yourself.’” (Chapter thirteen) What is the ancestor trying to teach her? How might you protect yourself without fighting?
8. When Bree tries to comfort Felicity, she realizes that grief is personalized. Because of this, she doesn’t tell Felicity that she understands her pain. She lets Felicity sit in her sorrow because “grief isn’t a competition.” (Chapter eight) What do you think Bree means by this phrase?
9. Bree tells Nick that she hates how Lord Davis can trace her family history when she and her family have been unable to do so. How might the ability to trace one’s ancestry be a privilege?
10. In a conversation, one of the Lieges tells Bree that Excalibur doesn’t matter. According to the Liege, Bree is “‘the sword. Their sword. Our
sword.’” (Chapter twenty-four) What does it mean for Bree to be the sword? Should she have to be the sword for others?
11. Think about all the burdens that Bree has to bear as she and her friends struggle to find safety. Based on this, do you think Sel was right to trick Bree by mesmering her with an illusion? Why or why not?
12. What is the definition of “volition”? Why is Volition an appropriate name for the Rootcrafter safe haven?
13. What is the difference between a blood walk and a memory walk? What are the advantages and disadvantages of engaging in a memory walk? What are the opportunities and consequences of engaging in a blood walk?
14. Consider Bree’s relationship with King Arthur. Do you think King Arthur is a hero, a villain, or a neutral entity?
15. Both William and Vera say that “‘chaos favors imbalance.’” (Chapter thirty-two and Chapter 60) What do you think Vera means by this at the end of the novel? How might Bree’s choice to break from her past cause chaos in her future?
16. Bree decides to stop listening to her Legendborn and Rootcrafter ancestors. Do you think she was right to listen to herself instead of her deceased relatives? What would you do if you were Bree?
17. Reflect on Lord Davis’s relationship with Nick. Do you think Lord Davis’s actions were motivated by love, greed, or power? Why?
18. In the story, there are brokers who help humans and demons make mutually beneficial deals. What do you think about this practice?
19. King Arthur says that the myths and accusations surrounding the Line of Morgaine are false. Think about what you know about the Legendborn, the Regents, and the Order. Do you think the accusations are false? Why or why not? If they rumors are false, who do you think started them? Why would they start them?
20. What’s the difference between borrowing, bartering for, or stealing aether? Does a person’s choice in how they obtain aether say anything about their character? Why or why not?
21. Each section of the novel has a title: Strength, Power, Control, Volition. What is the significance of each word and how does it represent Bree’s growth over the course of the novel? Extension Activities
includes a flowchart detailing the hierarchy of the Order of the Round Table. Consider how Bree is treated in the book, and think about why Lord Davis wanted to force Camlann to begin. Redesign this flowchart based on what you know about how the Order truly operates.
2. Bree is confined by the all-white council of Regents and forced to undergo several testing procedures. During this process, they treat her more like an object than a human. This aspect of the story connects to the ways in which white scientists have subjected Black people to forced experimentation and medical mistreatment throughout time. With a group, research the real-life history of these experiments, and connect these to the treatment of Bree in the novel. Present your findings to an audience beyond your classroom (a community organization, another classroom, etc.). Events and people to consider include the following:
a. Henrietta Lacks/George Otto Gey
b. The Tuskegee Syphilis experiment
c. Dr. Eugene Saenger (radiologist)
d. J. Marion Sims (gynecologist)
e. Holmesburg Prison experiments
3. Colors and animals have symbolic meaning in our society, and they are also important to the categorization of the Legendborn. Review the psychology of color chart (https://www.ppdpainting.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/PPD_color_guide_center-1024x1024.jpg
) and an animal symbolism sheet (https://whitcraftlearningsolutions.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Animal_Symbolism.pdf
) to learn more about the meanings behind specific colors and animals. Then, using evidence from the text, talk to a partner about how the Legendborn’s colors and sigils represent specific meanings. Next, choose a color and animal to represent yourself. Use these elements to draw your own Legendborn sigil.
4. As Bree and her friends travel to safety, they find out that there is an underground railroad for Rootcrafters. With a partner, search for newspaper articles about the historical Underground Railroad and the people who used the network to escape enslavement and make it to safety. Write your own newspaper article based on what you find.
5. In the story, Bree gets a chance to talk to several of her matrilineal ancestors. When she talks to them, however, she often doesn’t have the chance to tell them about anything other than the Legendborn and Rootcrafter issues. Pretend that you could communicate with any of your ancestors and think about what you would tell them about your life. Write a letter to that ancestor.
6. When Bree, Alice, William, and Sel travel through Georgia, they stop at a small gas station. At the station, the owners allow William to use the bathroom but not Bree or Alice. This encounter is a significant reminder of the experiences of many Black people and people of color who travel through cities and towns that are unwelcoming to anyone who is not white. For a historical perspective of unwelcoming towns, search the Historical Database for Sundown Towns by Tougaloo College: https://justice.tougaloo.edu/sundown-towns/using-the-sundown-towns-database/state-map/. Are any of these sundown towns close to where you live? Or is your city or town shown on the database? What does learning this history mean to you? What might this history mean for others? Consider also Bree’s line about her and Alice’s encounter, that “Yeah, well, what happened back there? Me and Alice got born into that
fight.” What does it mean to be born with an identity and into a fight that you did not choose?Guide written by Stephanie R. Toliver, an assistant professor of Literacy and Secondary Humanities at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Her scholarship centers the freedom dreams of Black youth and honors the historical legacy that Black imaginations have had and will have on activism and social change. This guide has been provided by Simon & Schuster for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes. For more Simon & Schuster guides and classroom materials, please visit simonandschuster.net or simonandschuster.net/thebookpantry.