Review: Blood Song. A Raven’s Shadow 1 by Anthony Ryan

Blood Songbloodsong

728 pages
Orbit
published in 2013

  1. Blood Song
  2. Tower Lord
  3. Queen of Fire

Vaelin Al Sorna was only a child of ten when his father left him at the iron gate of the Sixth Order—a caste devoted to battle. 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—and Vaelin’s rage at being deprived of his birthright knows no bounds. Even his cherished memories of his mother are soon challenged by what he learns within the Order.

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.

I read a lot of exciting reviews about this one and was curious about whether it was really the next big thing in Fantasy. It IS a very good read, no doubt. Especially the first part of the book succeeds in capturing the reader’s attention with a fluent style of writing and a cool main character.

In the beginning of the tale we meet Vaelin Al Sorna as a grown man and seen by one of his enemies, a scribe. On their journey, Vaelin starts telling the scribe the story of his life, which is the main part of the book. Only in the end, we come back to those two as the story concludes.

So in the first part we read about Vaelin’s training to become a fighter, his life in the order, his growing friendship with his comrades and also the religion the realm is based on. The world is not described with the use of too many details but that is fine as I was more interested in Vaelin’s life and daily struggles anyways. Life in the order is harsh and only the best can stay – but Vaelin is of course determined to survive and become a full member. He is a bit of a Gary Stu as he is the best at sword fighting and pretty good at everything else as well. His story is not new but well written and exciting. We get fights, scheming, bromance and some funny scenes as well. All in all it’s a good mix that doesn’t let the story get boring or seem endless.

And although Vaelin is sometimes too much of a super hero, he stays likeable and believable as the reader has access to his doubts, fears and hopes. He’s a well written character.

Magic exists but it is not common and only associated with the dark side. Whoever practices it will be hunted down and killed. The exact nature of magic is not explained and I found it all a bit vague. Random people seem to have random magical abilities but why and how it exactly works did not get explained yet. I found it hard to grasp, even when the author tried to be more specific.

The last part of the book, that dealt with Vaelin’s life after the order, I didn’t like as much as the first. First of all Vaelin’s development went to quick – at one moment he was an order boy and suddenly he is leading a massive army to war. Nope, wasn’t believable. Also, the war dragged on and on. I wasn’t as invested in the story and the fate of the characters as I was in the first part of the book. Even the supporting characters who were interesting and charismatic in the first part became a little bland and distant.

Thus said, it was still a pretty good read and in itself, the story has a conclusion and some surprises in the end. Some things are left open and there’s definitely place for a second part (which there is, anyways), but you can just leave it there. It is probably one of the better books I read this year and would been one of the best if not for the last part.

Some other things:
– I liked the love story! Although it was tiny. But I liked the love interest and was sad that she didn’t appear more often…
– I also thought that some characters who appeared only for a scene or so had potential and would have liked to read more about them. The Tower Lord seemed like a cool person, for example.
– The book could make a nice movie I suppose

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