Blood Song by Anthony Ryan is currently one of the highest rated and new I might add, fantasy book on Amazon. At the moment of this review, the book has managed to maintain an average of 5 stars with over 685 user reviews! That almost never happens. What’s the other amazing thing? This author is the new kid on the block! He’s only written one other short book but suffice it to say, Blood Song will be this author’s claim to fame and I’m also sure he will have one heck of a career if he continues to write like this. After completion of this book, do I personally think it deserves a 5 star review? Absolutely. But here is one big caveat. In order to enjoy this book, you will need to be a very patient reader, especially if you are the type to expect heavy action from the beginning and it not stopping till the very end. If you like a story that is well thought out and well written, Blood Song will satisfy you.
The story revolves around a young protagonist by the name of Vaelin Al Sorna. At a young age, Vaelin has been sent to the Sixth Order, seemingly being abandoned by his father, who is the infamous Battle Lord to King Janus. With his time in the Sixth Order (think of warrior monks who defends and puts the Realm’s religion first before the Kingdom), Vaelin trains with other boys of his age and as time goes by, his tale of deeds and heroics begin to grow until he is one of the most feared warrior in the land. 95% of the book is told as a flashback. Right in the beginning, you learn that Vaelin has been captured and being transferred to another island. Vernier is a chronicler/scribe to the emperor who is accompanying Vaelin on his trip and it is during their time on the ship that Vaelin Al Sorna tells the chronicler of his tale and how his legend came to be.
I like the story in Blood Song although like I mentioned earlier, it does take a while for things to pick up. About 30-35 percent of the book in the beginning is dedicated to Vaelin’s time training in the Sixth Order with his other brothers. While things do move slowly here, it does set the backdrop for things to come. It talks about the Faith, the Beyond and the Dark. While Blood Song can’t be considered a dark fantasy, the setting here seems grimy and the author does well in painting a picture for us as there will be a lot of deaths.
The main characters in Blood Song consists mainly of Vaelin, his band of brothers of the Sixth Order (of course, each of them have a different personality to separate them apart) and his masters and Aspect of the various Order faction. However, the story is focused mainly on Vaelin and is told entirely through his eyes. He’s a likable character with a strong sense of justice but as always, things aren’t that easy for him. As the killings pile up, it’s harder each time for Vaelin to make that distinction between good and evil. The good news is that the author does not overdo the character self-loathing part. Although Vaelin does show remorse at times and questions his actions, the author doesn’t repeat things over and over again. This is one thing that can drive a reader mad having to read about the main protagonist feeling sorry for himself/herself because they committed an act they shouldn’t have over and over again throughout each chapter. The main character just trudges along and continues to do things because life goes on! However, you still sense the pain and torture that goes on within Vaelin.
What I’m most shocked about with Blood Song is the writing. There’s just no way I can believe this author is new to writing. I immediately picked up after a couple chapters of reading that this author writes like a pro. In fact, I’m willing to bet he writes better than many other lesser known authors who have more book titles under their belt. I just can’t get the thought out of my head that the author must have had a secret pen name in the past where he’s undoubtedly written fantasy books prior to this! His writing just seems too mature for someone whose only got one other book under his belt. The other thing I want to point out is that although there were many slow moving parts in Blood Song, I never once found myself wanting to quit or skipping over parts. Again, I owe this to the author’s brilliant writing style. The book just flows smoothly from one chapter to the next. One of the main complaints from many reviews is the amount of grammatical and punctuation errors. Honestly, once I was engaged in the book, while I did notice some of those errors, it did nothing to hinder the experience for me.
One big dislike I have with Vaelin is how I see him as a bit overrated. No doubt he is a strong warrior but it seems as if him just being the son of the famous Battle Lord did all the work for him early on. It’s only obvious that I won’t reveal spoilers here but suffice it to say, some of Vaelin’s battles just seems a bit lackluster in the beginning and it’s only due to rumors does his legend continues to grow. This obviously isn’t always necessarily so but it does happen enough for me to notice them. During battles, the author paints just enough of a picture in your mind of the battle scene without really having to bore you with the intricate details. Some veteran readers no doubt would have loved for the author to spend more time fleshing out the fight scenes and I personally think this can be an improvement in his next book.
All in all, I’m left pretty breathless after completing Blood Song. I initially thought this was a stand alone novel but apparently, the story continues and I can’t wait for the next in the series. I just hope the author can continue to show off his amazing writing skills. There are some minor things that I wish the author can improve on but they are in the minority and not worth mentioning here. All I know is that we have witnessed a special author and series in the making. Don’t let the simplistic and amateur picture cover fool you!