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Review: Blood Song by Anthony Ryan

By / June 17, 2013 / no comments

Blood Song was self-published, but has been picked up by Penguin to be re-edited and then published as a “real” book. It has been on my TBR pile for a year or so and I’m glad I picked it up. The version I’ve got is the “old” ebook version. You might think this is your normal selfpublished ebook but it’s not, it’s so much more. The catchphrase is; born for battle, bred for war – corny? yes. True? hell yeah!

The story begins with Vaelin imprisoned in a foreign country and about to be sent to his death. “So, tell me…” Verniers Alishe Someren begs of Vaelin Al Sorna, and thus Vaelins tale unfold. Verniers the chronicler starts putting Vaelins words to the page. He intends to chronicle the life story of Vaelin Al Sorna, the Hope Killer.

Vaelin is not yet 30, a young man by any standards, but old before his time in many ways, Vaelin is awaiting his sentance after 5 years as a prisoner of war, and Verniers is sent to chronicle his death, for an aging king.

The story of Vaelins life begin at the at age 6. His mother dies and his father, a Sword of the Realm cannot cope with the loss of a wife or the raising of a son he never showed any interest in. Vaelin is given to the care of the 6th order, a zealous monklike order, where young children are taught to die for the Faith, which will happen either during their rigerous training, or in battle, after they’ve become full members of the 6th order.

In the 6th order young children are trained to become monk-like warriors, focusing on stamina and agility, coupled with all forms of armed and unarmed combat. The novices are taught to be merciless killers, fighting at the behest of the King and faith.

Vaelin is part unwilling, part willing and part suffering, much like FitzChivalry Farseer, one of my all time favourite characters from Robin Hobb’s Apprentice Assassin.

Anthony Ryan has a way about his characters, much like Hobb has. The story itself is great. At first it seems to be the run of the mill farmboy tale, but it quickly develops into something completely different. The story does not “feel” like any of other books I’ve read the last few years, which makes it all the more exciting and refreshing. At first, there are similarities to Patrick Rothfuss’ Name of the Wind, mainly in how the story is told, but the story has little in common, except that it’s very good. The use of a chronicler doesn’t come off as brilliantly as Rothfuss, but it’s solid and I liked the way the first person perspective is the Chronicler. It’s as if we’re reading his personal notes on the recounting of Vaelin Al Sornas tale.

Vaelins story is an exciting one, and at times Blood Song shows it’s a selfpublished book, but it’s rare and the editing is generally very thorough. Vaelin is a great character, built from the bottom up as he grows older. We get to experience Vaelins trials and know him intimately through the harsh upbringing in the 6th order.

The book kept me fully immersed all the way through, and the ending was satisfying. I never stopped rooting for Vaelin, even though I knew he survived all his ordeals as a child. In the end, through pain and suffering, Vaelin comes off as a kind and caring person, even towards his last few moments.

The most accurate  way to describe this book, would be to call it a mix of Name of the Wind meets Left Hand of God. Blood Song is at times unpolished, but overall it’s a very good book. I expect Penguin will re-edit the book and remove the few minor errors during their revision, before it’s printed. A book I will purchase again once it’s published officially (6th July by Ace Books).

Anthony Ryan succeeded in making a good story with a great character. I hope we get to read any sequels he might have planned, and I cannot recommend this book enough. Personally, I think it’s miles ahead of any other new books I’ve read recently. To quote a movie I liked a lot;

Vaelin Al Sorna is not the hero we need, but he’s the hero we deserve.

 

Review written by Laurentius for bestfantasybooks.com

About the author

Ben

Blog editor, admin and founder of BestFantasyBooks.comYou'll find me on the BestFantasyBook forums and spending my spare time reading fantasy books and writing lists for this site. In fact, I have no spare time -- running this site IS my spare time!

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