The best fantasy works because it is original, full of depth and gritty. Blood Song gets full marks in a genre where unoriginal, forgettable YA like penmanship is the norm. Steven Brand is terrific and this listener appreciates the obvious affinity that he has for Blood Song. Well Done!
Did you know you can put in a set of Ear-Buds, slap your Hearing Protectors over them, and Mow the lawn, Weed-Eat, etc, without your book being drowned out by engine noise? OR, you can just let the horses in the yard, and THEY'LL mow and weedeat (literally) FOR YOU!
While I am reminded of Joe Abercrombe's books (Which I like), I like Ryan's writing style much better! It's hard to describe, but Ryan's action scenes and battlefields feel "Real" in both size and scope. I don't feel like a massive battle, covering huge areas, is more like a small fight in one small field or small town. You get the actual feel of "Large Spaces" and "Big Countries".. Riders can't just seem to "Ride Hard" and be on the other side of the Battle/Country in 10 minutes.
I also like his knowledge concerning weapons, tactics, and how happy, carefree, people steadily become "Hardened", and then "MORE hardened" by experiences and training... I dislike tales where a "hero" just suddenly picks up a weapon and magically becomes "The Battle Hardened Savior" in a few days or weeks... things like that just don't happen in real life, and the journey to be "Hard Enough" to do things that HAVE to be done takes time and experience (I wish I didn't know).
Ryan's details are excellent and realistic (Within a Fantasy Setting). As an example of what I mean, I am reminded of an original painting I own, hanging in my office, which is AWESOME and Beautiful, but the Female Warrior in the Painting is holding her Two-Handed Sword with her right hand jammed up hard against the bottom of the Cross-Guard, and her left hand is jammed tightly against the bottom of her right hand on the Sword's hilt. She also has none of the thousands of scars that are inevitable on the hands of anyone that has seriously trained to fight with knives, swords, or any other "Hand Weapon" (Another detail I wish I didn't know personally). My 12 Year Old Daughter (My Youngest) looked at the painting not long ago and said, "Dad, this painting has always bugged me... She doesn't even know how to hold her sword" (Not sure HOW I feel about THAT yet.. but NONE of MY Four children will ever be kidnapped or abused!). When a decently trained 12 Year Old can pick out that kind of detail, then a writer who crafts stories for Adults should know those details also!
Same for "Horses", if you're going to use them in your works, then you should know the animals, as well as what they CAN, and CAN'T, really do (We own a Horse Ranch, So I do know a little about them)... Ryan DOES know those types of details, and he effortlessly crafts them into his works! THAT is impressive! Maybe that's one of the reasons his Stories seem so realistic... it's aggravating when you NEED to get someplace in a hurry on Horse-Back, and your horse can't keep up a full gallop for NEARLY as long as they do in many movies and stories... they get tired, they need rest, they need food and water and a lot of "Upkeep", both on, and off, the trail... EVERY horse has it's own unique personality, just as people do. My large male Quarter Horse, "Bandit", will steal "treats" out of your Cargo Pockets without you even knowing he's emptied your pockets (thus his name)! Knowing that, would you want to ride my horse named "Temper"? Again, ALL of this is the type of detail that Ryan relates in his books! Impressive!
Why do I think these details are important? Because we learn from our experiences and the things we read. I met MANY soldiers in the Military who made classic mistakes because they "Learned" what they THOUGHT were "Skills" from Reading books and watching movies... it takes a long time to UNLEARN this type of mistaken (and dangerous) "Pre-Concepted Skill". I know about "Artistic License" and "Moving the story along", but Ryan seems to be able to incorporate correct details, and use them to make his stories BETTER, so why can't other writers?
As usual, Steven Brand does an EXCELLENT job of Narration. Sometimes it can be a little hard to realize a new person is suddenly talking, or WHO that new person is, but if you pay attention and get your mind back on the book, you easily figure it out, and realize that maybe you just weren't paying as close attention as you should have. I found this actually helped keep my focus on the story-line, since focus can easily wander a little when listening to 23-24 HOURS worth of book! Whatever the reason, his style of narration works, and works well!
As I write this I'm almost finished with Book 2, "Tower Lord", Which is even better than book 1! So you have THAT to look forward to if you like "Blood Song".
Say something about yourself!
Top ten. I really like Scott Lynch, George R R Martin, Sanderson, ect but I enjoyed Anthony Ryan on a whole new level.
The Order's different dimensions, fighting for the faith.
Vaelin the main character was the best. I won't get into why I don't write paragraphs on what the book is about, because I believe if you like a book it won't be the lengthy tell all that you enjoy.
Just thrilled to find such an awesome listen.
I have been through so many books with rave reviews and have been a bit disheartened in finding a book I could love. The reviewers of Blood Song are right Anthony Ryan is the best. I don't give five stars as I find most books fall short but Ryan earned it!
Book was very interesting and held my attention throughout the 21 hrs of the story.
Always wanting to know what happens next.
It was hard to be dragged away from listening to do other tasks...
Thirty-something geek who loves sci fi and fantasy.
I picked up this book after seeing it recommended several times on Audible, and after reading numerous positive reviews here. I was not disappointed. This is a major work in fantasy, and Anthony Ryan will be a name to watch as this series matures and expands.
The main narrative is set within a frame story, similar to that of Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles books (e.g., the main character is giving an account of his life to an interviewer). The circumstances of the interview are different enough, though, from Rothfuss, that it still feels original. The similarities to Rothfuss end there, however. This is a fairly dark fantasy, though not so grimdark as Joe Abercrombie or George R.R. Martin. We witness the training of Vaelin Al Sorna in the Sixth Order, an organization that’s a cross between samurai, agoge (the training of Spartan boys) and Jedi knights. The first half of the book, which covers Vaelin’s time in the Order, is fascinating, coming-of-age stuff. Numerous mysteries present themselves right off the bat, and most go unresolved by the end of the book. Vaelin’s camaraderie with his fellow trainees is the best part of the book. The other characters are well fleshed out, especially Norta and Caenis. Vaelin is an heroic character, and it’s very clear he’s got a big destiny, but he is grounded by self-doubts, guilt, and a consistent, genuine humility. He’s a wonderful character, embodying the escapism we crave in fantasy, while remaining a very human character with whom we can easily identify and sympathize. He is a living weapon who accepts his position, but not without regret.
The second half of the book deals with Vaelin’s adventures in service to the Realm. This part of the book was less engaging than the first, I found, if only because the internecine politics of Ryan’s world get tossed around in rapid succession, and are hard to keep straight at times. The focus of the first half of the book is traded for more broad-scoped world-building, and while it’s intriguing, it lacks the fundamental humanity and direction that the training segments had. Still, toward the end it builds some powerful momentum, with suspense sustained by the frame story. Eventually, the frame story and the past narrative merge and many things fall into place. It’s a nicely-designed narrative structure, and is quite satisfying once it reaches its end.
Ryan’s world feels familiar, yet unique. He doesn’t try to subvert every cliché like Martin or Abercrombie, but instead relies on good characterization and believable political/religious structures. One of the main themes of the book is man’s proclivity toward religion and the myriad gods we invent. This is a subject I’ve never seen tackled in such a direct way in a fantasy story before, and it’s a most welcome addition to the genre.
This is, of course, the first in a series (whose ultimate number of volumes I don’t know). The book sets up many compelling plots to be resolved in future books, and raises the stakes by the end to be bigger and more important than the book first promised. I am greatly looking forward to book 2 when it comes out. I highly recommend this book to any fan of modern, mature fantasy. Ryan deserves to be listed among the modern greats in the genre; I look forward to his continued career.
A note on the narrator: Steven Brand does a good job with the text. His husky voice lends itself well to Vaelin’s personality, and his pronunciations and speech rhythms are generally fine. He does stumble now and then (possibly from turning a page?) but these are negligible. The only complaint I have with him is that he lacks range. He has basically only one voice characterization, and while it works for many characters, it does not for all. Moreover, during dialogue between two or more characters, or even internal asides from one character, it can sometimes be hard to tell who is talking, or what is being spoken aloud or in a character’s mind. He is no Steven Pacey, but then again, who is? That said, he still does an adequate job with the story, and because almost all of the tale is told from a single character’s perspective, it gets much easier to tell who is talking as the story progresses. I would have liked a little more variety and emotion from Brand, but I’ve heard much, much worse.
Enjoy the adventure
An excellent medieval fantasy book and entertaining from the beginning to end. I enjoyed the theme of personal sacrifice as the cost of loyalty. Best shown when the main character is mislead by the government to do their bidding vs. pursuing his own plans. Reminded me of the Mark Twain quote - “Loyalty to the country always. Loyalty to the government when it deserves it.”
Excellent first book, I'm counting the days until July 2014.
To the point. I enjoy Jim Butcher, Kevin Hearne, Joe Abercrombie, Neal Stephenson (70% of the time), and Mark Lawrence. This is just to give you an idea of what makes me tick. If you enjoy these authors too and are often disappointed in fantasy books then you need to give this a listen. It's a strong book from the first page to the last, it's long but it will leave you wanting more. I was ever impressed by the writing, the excellent plot and the twists that you don't often find in books of this nature.
Give Anthony Ryan a try and I promise you won't be disappointed.
Obsessive book hoarder, and intense audible lover.
Yes!! Because it is a well wrought story and relatable characters. I felt despair along with the main character as loved characters died, etc.
Hmm, since they all were so good in the story, I refuse to answer this one :)
He brought life to the characters and narrated with emotion that kept me enthralled.
In my top ten books. . and one of the biggest surprises. I have over 100 audible books. I got this one for a cross country road trip and was totally sucked into it, , almost ran out of gas cause i was so engrossed. Looking forward to more from this author.
I highly recommend this book.
Steven Brand's voice is wonderful, his narration was the perfect tone for the book. I read this first as a self published novel on Kindle, and even still I can't imagine the protagonists voice to sound any other way.
I still am floored that it took so long for a publisher to pick him up. If he can continue this story with the pacing, twists and enthralling characters he will quickly join Brandon Sanderson, Robert Jordan, Patrick Rothfuss and George Martin as the great living writers of Fantasy.
Several that would be spoilers if shared.
No, but even though his only other work on Audible is WAU outside of my normal reading I am considering picking it up just for his narration.
A dangerous man without malice?
BloodSong is surely going to be the beginning of a long and glorious relationship with these characters. The world that Anthony Ryan has created should exist. It is cohesive, realistic and functional. The magic reminds of something that Robin Hobb might have produced, the characters of something Orson Scott Card might have created and a world epic and grand enough to rival any George Martin has envisioned.
When I paid 99 cents for this on Kindle I had low expectations, but after one read and two listens I can say that it stands nearly as high on my can't wait list as the next Way of Kings book or the final book of Patrick Rothfuss' Kingkiller chronicles. If any of these names are on your hit list then you will not be disappointed.
Having invoked those names I should mention that the next novel is 100% complete and is only being heald back for a year by his new publisher to give time for this book to sell and the third is well underway according to the author so great writing, without the typical 2-3 year wait between books for this style of fantasy.