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 10 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.
©2013 Anthony Ryan (P)2013 Penguin Audio
This was a great start in an epic journey Anthony Ryan is sure to take us all on. I found myself making comparisons to Michael J. Sullivan, Brandon Sanderson and Patrick Rothfuss (his first book The Name of the Wind: Kingkiller Chronicles, Day 1). If you have ever read any of their works and enjoyed them then this should be on par and I am sure you will enjoy this as well.
Since this is the first book it contains your classic world building experience, who everyone is and their relationships with each other. Ryan has painted a wonderful picture of this new world and his characters have some depth to them.
As far as narration goes Steven Brand brought these characters to life with his performance and range of character voices. I can only hope they bring him back for the sequels.
This is the kind of work I'm looking for. Written for adults, with rich characters, epic sweep of events, complex layers of intertangled personal, political, and mythical story-lines.
A rare book in the category of, and perhaps even better than, Game of Thrones, Name of the Wind, Warded Man, or The Way of Kings.
Can't wait for the next book.
The narrater was great--not one for forcing a variety of voices, but providing a solid, pleasant, and effective read. Like hearing a fireside story read by a master story teller.
Great Book and Performance!
I read it then listened and I loved it both ways. I really liked the narration as the narrator did a good job and the characters did come alive. When you are reading you do not really make up different voices for characters in your head (at least I don't) so I did enjoy the audio version very much.
I do not really think I have read a book like this but I would kind of compare it to epic movies like Gladiator.
I loved when Vaelin went to go save his brother from seeing his father executed and all his other brothers came to help.
The whole booked moved me it was a great story and I am not sure if I am going to last until the 2nd book comes out.
I decided to get this book upon a good reads recommendation as I was in the mood for an epic story after reading Patrick Rothfuss's novels. So I decided to give this book a try. I do have to say the 1st chapter is iffy as you are in the present and the main character is grown and a prisoner going to fight for his death but its a bit confusing but wait till the 2nd chapter! Vaelin the main character will tell his life story starting when he was a young boy and given away by his father to the 6th order. You will read about his life and how he becomes the man that he is. If you could fall in love with a main character then this would be the one. The story is truly epic and will not let you go. I will just say I started this at 8am in the morning and read and listened until 10 at night I could not stop! Give this a shot you will not be dissapointed.
This is yet another independent e-book that through sheer momentum got noticed and picked up by a publisher. I had seen huge ravings about this book and had to check it out. So does this one live up to the hype?
This is possibly the strongest fantasy debut I've ever read. It's better than Elantris, it's better than Name of the Wind, and it's a lot better than Promise of Blood. He gets right what those books didn't, and I can't really find a single complaint about it. I have no idea where this author came out of, but this guy has the total package when it comes to writing.
The first of the book starts with modern-day Vaelin, condemned prisoner and living legend. Setting out on a voyage where he must fight to the death in gladiatorial combat, he begins relating the story of his life to a skeptical scribe. The book continues on this pattern of long-flashbacks, interspersed with short interludes back in the modern day. It really reminded me of The Name of the Wind, only this book was a lot better. There was never really a dull or boring moment in the book; in fact, this is one of those rare books that I actually didn't want to end. Usually I'm hurrying it up near the end, already thinking about what I want to start next. But this one had me hooked all the way through.
This author writes like someone who's done it for years and years. I simply can't believe how well-written it is for a new author. The characters come alive. They feel so much more real and sophisticated than those books mentioned above. The plot carries you along, and you can feel the complexities and undercurrents even as they are revealed a bit at a time, with many more mysteries yet unsolved. The elegance of the writing is at times astounding; there are moments that blew me away or made me laugh in delight simply because of HOW they were written. The prose and dialogue are top-notch. This is a genius of storytelling.
And the action? Absolutely second-to-none. It's intense, it's bloody, and it feels like you're actually THERE. Usually authors slack off in this category, but so much of this book revolves around a life of violence and combat. The fights never feel cheap or stereotyped. The main character is awesome and he lays down the law with his blade. There's no random goof-ups that authors use to try and be different or "realistic". This guy is bred to fight, and everything he does is purposeful and effectual. And the magic system, revealing itself slowly one bit at a time through the lore of the world, adds that extra element that brings it all together.
I didn't think it would happen, but this book really blew me away. I can't wait to see what comes next.
This is a very detailed start to an epic series. The coming of age part is the strongest. I felt that after while the hero became practically superhuman, which made me less interested in him. There certainly were some great scenes and action sequences that kept me listening, but the whole didn't always come together. The narration was also good but not outstanding. It wasn't that easy to tell the various characters apart.
Maybe it's that I'm not as much of fan of military/macho fantasy, preferring some whimsy or humor, and more central female characters. I see there are some sequels coming but I don't feel compelled to listen to them.
Some of the pro reviews on amazon and reader reviews mention rough spots in this Fantasy Series by a new author- but I am damned if I could find them. Excellent setting and super character development. Told ala Patrick Rothfuss (first novel- I could not finish number 2) with a character interviewing another character.
This is a MUST READ Series- if you like Abercrombie, Early G RR Martin. Gritty perfect prose. Premise is how religion (rarely addressed in anything but a superficial way) affects life and history (and in real life this is a central theme of history) and individuals. Great premise- excellent writing- I am REALLY sad it is over with NO official release date of the next book- (it is finished or so Anthony Ryan states).
AS another reviewer stated "YOU MUST BUY AND READ THIS" if you like "low magic" well written fantasy series.
SUPERB and BRAVO
On Audible since the late 1990s, mostly science fiction, fantasy, history & science. I rarely review 1-2 star books that I can't get through
First off, this is a wonderful first fantasy novel by a first-time author. Ryan writes with confidence, and does an excellent job in building a novel (relatively low-magic) fantasy world. At the same time, he takes a trope of these sorts of novels - the childhood training and maturing of a character touched by Destiny (think Harry Potter, Name of the Wind, Wheel of Time, etc.) - and manages to make it work by both the quality of his writing and his ability to produce compelling characters. There were many spots where I couldn't stop listening, and I am eager to buy the next novel as soon as it comes out.
Why the 4 stars? In some ways, I feel like Ryan juggles too many balls, and some of them are noticeably dropped in the novel, making the set-up for the Raven's Shadow series less interesting than the events of this particular book. This is most obvious inhow the overarching enemy of the novel is established (I won't spoil anything there, but I will say that given the detail of all of the other worldbuilding, that piece feels tacked-on and contrary to other parts of the book), but it appears in other ways - important characters disappear from the narrative for long periods only to suddenly reappear for some key role; issues like religion seem critical and some points and unimportant in others; foreshadowing is obvious but of unclear value; and the story skips some interesting moments, choosing instead to concentrate on ones of less clear value.
These are minor sins for a new novel that is of such high quality, and I strongly suggest epic fantasy fans read it. Though it is not high fantasy, and includes lots of bloody carnage, it isn't as grimdark as Abercrombe or Martin, and thus serves as a bit of fresh air in a genre that has tended towards the extremes of either light-and-fun or death-and-horribleness. The reading is great as well.
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? I recently listened to "Augustus" while wandering through the Roman Forum. I'm on my third set of "Sleep-Phones". I've been addicted to audible since 2004... I think my friends are starting to suspect I have a problem ;)
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".
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!
Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
There’s virtually nothing in Anthony Ryan’s Blood Song that fantasy readers haven’t seen before. Vaguely European medieval world? Check. Protagonist with a special magical gift? Check. Walled-off academy wherein a young protagonist learns many diverse arts? Check. A set of religious/mystical Orders that safeguard the realm and its affairs? Barbarians in the north? Hidden secret Order? Check, check, check.
Yet, this is a confident, unapologetically traditional novel that will likely please fans of military and warrior epics. Ryan, to his credit, doesn’t go in for a lot of world-building or the potential flab of multiple character perspectives. Other than the framing device of introducing the story from the perspective of a scribe from a southern empire, who interviews the now-legendary captive, Vaelin al Sorna, much of the narrative follows the experiences of the man himself. As we soon learn, Vaelin was left as a boy by his father at the gates of the Sixth Order, which trains warriors to serve the faith, a sort of medieval Army Ranger battalion.
Roughly the first third of the novel is taken up by Vaelin’s training, an increasingly harsh series of lessons and tests. It’s a little comparable to events in Patrick Rothfuss’s popular The Name of the Wind, but this school is much more martial than university-like. It’s stuff we’ve seen before, but I enjoyed watching Vaelin and his fellows grow in skill and maturity, with glimpses of the outside world and its issues, which occasionally intrude on their training.
Most good military fiction involves the hero learning, over many bloody battles, that the purity of the warrior’s ethos doesn’t always align with the slimy nature of realpolitik. This is true here. As he graduates from his final test, Vaelin finds himself falling into the favor of a manipulative, ambitious king, who sends him on sham missions against an insurgency of heretics in the north, then into actual set battles against the empire to the south, for reasons that sound worthy on paper but reek of the king’s self-interest.
While the too-noble-for-this-war-too-dutiful-to-stop-fighting-it themes are familiar, Ryan does a great job with the savage crunch and clamor of battles, and capturing the many small details of a warrior’s life and its hard disciplines. There’s a bit of droll humor, too. There’s even beauty in the writing, in the depiction of a primeval northern forest, or in a pod of orca whales pacing a ship. Fantasy can so easily crumble when modern sensibilities or glibness creep into it, but Ryan seems to recognize the importance of a believably mythic world, of keeping the basic themes simple and clear.
That said, there are weaknesses. The story suffers from a few cliches, and only a handful of characters are more than a sketch. The Princess, whose calculating nature makes it unclear whose side she’s on, is interesting, but there wasn’t very much to distinguish Vaelin’s brothers-in-arms from one another. I was a little disappointed that the Faith, so central to what the Order does, was never explained in much detail, and that the magic-related side of the plot, while seemingly important to the larger series Ryan has in mind, felt a little shoehorned into the story.
Still, such issues are to be expected in a debut and I think much of the praise from readers is warranted. If this isn’t quite the next Game of Thrones, it takes many ideas that worked well in that series and channels them into one hero and his reality. Audiobook narrator Steven Brand doesn’t do a wide range of accents, but he has a confident, unpretentious voice that fits the text. While some readers have complained about grammar issues, they weren’t evident to me in this format.
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