Saturday, October 26, 2013

Review: Blood Song (Raven's Shadow 1) by Anthony Ryan

Blood Song
Series:  Raven's Shadow 1
Publisher:  Ace, July 2, 2013
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 592 pages
Price:  $27.95 (print)
ISBN:  9780425267691 (print)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher

From “a new master storyteller” comes the beginning of an epic fantasy saga of blood, honor, and destiny…

“The Sixth Order wields the sword of justice and smites the enemies of the Faith and the Realm.”

Vaelin Al Sorna was only a child of ten when his father left him at the iron gate of the Sixth Order. The Brothers of the Sixth Order are devoted to battle, and Vaelin will be trained and hardened to the austere, celibate, and dangerous life of a Warrior of the Faith. He has no family now save the Order.

Vaelin’s father was Battle Lord to King Janus, ruler of the unified realm. Vaelin’s rage at being deprived of his birthright and dropped at the doorstep of the Sixth Order like a foundling knows no bounds. He cherishes the memory of his mother, and what he will come to learn of her at the Order will confound him. His father, too, has motives that Vaelin will come to understand. But one truth overpowers all the rest: Vaelin Al Sorna is destined for a future he has yet to comprehend. A future that will alter not only the realm, but the world.

Trinitytwo’s Point of View:

Vaelin is left at the gates of the Brotherhood of the Sixth Order by his father when he is just 10 years old. Before his father rides away he whispers "Loyalty" to his young son. Vaelin begins training the day of his arrival and, with other boys in his group, must endure strict regimens and even stricter punishments to survive. They are taught that The Brotherhood is now their only family and they must pass various survival tests to prove themselves worthy of remaining behind the relative safety of its gates. During his first test, Vaelin, kills an assassin sent to murder him. A mysterious wolf comes to his aid when, while fleeing, he stumbles upon the assassin's companions. During the next trial, Vaelin hears voices outside his shelter during a blizzard. He comes to the aid of two travelers, a mute girl and a warrior. He finds that they are the Dernier, non-believers of the Way, and are being hunted by Brothers of the Order. An inner voice persuades Vaelin to help aid the travelers and he returns to his Order more confused than before. Blood Song is Vaelin's journey to fulfill his destiny. What is this mysterious voice Vaelin hears, and how does the wolf fit in? There are many factions at work and Vaelin's journey is one of brotherhood, faith, unseen opposing forces, ruthlessness, love and ultimately truth.

Blood Song is the type of book I always search for, but so seldom find. It’s the tale of a well fleshed out hero whose journey to manhood, quest for knowledge and pursuit of destiny are fraught with peril. Anthony Ryan's world building skill is flawless. It takes little effort to imagine yourself in Vaelin's Unified Realm and see people and places through his eyes. It is hard to believe that Ryan is a debut author. This story reads like a masterpiece of sights and sounds; battles and blood; longing and honor. After the first chapter, I tried to savor each page because I knew this was the kind of book that you don't want to end. There are 575 pages, but I found myself wishing for 500 more. The journey was magical, but magic combined with harsh realism. I could almost hear the creak of leather, the grunt of men, the crackling of fire. I could almost smell smoke, horse and soldier's sweat, the perfume of flowers in a secret garden. The sensations were tangible and each page sprang to life. Reading the last page filled me with elation and sadness, excitement and impatience for the next book. Blood Song is epic fantasy at its brightest and best. I absolutely loved everything about this novel.

Blood Song is a remarkable and wonderful book, and frankly, the best fantasy I have read all year.

Read our interview with Anthony Ryan here.

1 comment:

  1. This is a book I have a copy of and am pretty much just waiting to reach it on the To Read pile before I crack it open and start reading. I hear so many good things about it that it's pretty close to the top, too. Thanks for the review, and for reminding me that I still have this one to keep me happy!