Blood Song by Anthony Ryan

Beautifully written, wonderfully cast and populated.
Blood Song book cover

In the same vein as Miles Cameron’s ‘The Red Knight’, ‘Blood Song’ by Anthony Ryan was a book that had sat on my shelf for a while, forlornly hoping I would pick it up and give it a shot. In this end of year doldrums, I’ve been forced back to my shelves of ‘books I should read one day’ and, as with The Red Knight, I’m absolutely stoked that I picked up Blood Song.

The book is written in much the same way that Patrick Rothfuss is writing his ‘Kingkiller Chronicles’, setting the story within a framing sequence in which the main character relates his story to another. The framing sequence is destroyed by the end of the book, leaving me wondering how Ryan is going to continue the series, but nevertheless it makes for a fascinating read in this book.

While a healthy portion of the book follows a young teenage character, the story does not fall prey to any of the teenage tropes we’ve encountered from lesser writers. Again this follows much in the same vein as Rothfuss, allowing the characters – young though they may be – to exhibit maturity and growth, without the whininess we’ve come to expect from teenage fantasy heroes.

The world, particularly the religions and worship of the world, make for a captivating backdrop against which the main story is told. Fleshing out friendships, hatreds, manipulation, and love, Ryan paints a picture of an intricate and complex world on the brink of catastrophe, amidst seeming victories and conquests.

The characters are brilliant, at once interesting and – despite their age – appealing to readers of any age. Their feats of strength are realistic, their stamina and abilities raw and limited, and their growth over the first half of the book comes slowly. Their mentors and teachers are fleeting, though important, and are obviously more than they seem to the young eyes of our protagonist.

Beautifully written, wonderfully cast and populated, Anthony Ryan does indeed seem to be placing himself as one of the next master storytellers. Book two in his series, ‘Tower Lord’ comes out in the first half of 2014, and given how much I’ve enjoyed Blood Song, immediately steps into the category of ‘Most Anticipated’.

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Blood Song reader reviews

from Australia


Fabulous. Brilliant. One of the best fantasy suits in recent years, and I've read them all.

from India


Why I liked Blood Song? Reasons: Re-readability ( I read the book 3 times already) Very mature story line Smooth story telling. When I read the book, it's like I'm in a trance and by the end of a reading session, nearly 150 pages are done. That's really something. Vaelin AlSorna is one of the best protagonists in the heroic fantasy genre.

from USA


I purchased Anthony Ryan’s Blood Song because it showed up in my Goodreads “recommended” list with a ton of 5-star reviews. I’m usually suspicious, however, when the reviews so overwhelmingly endorse the greatness of a book. Based on my experience with Blood Song, I was right to be suspicious. While Blood Song is not horrible — I probably would’ve slid it 3 stars had I finished — I’m totally clueless as to how it earned so many 5-star reviews. Granted, I’m long past the age where I enjoy coming-of-age stories, if I ever did like them much. So maybe that’s the reason I don’t understand why Blood Song is getting so much love. I read about 60% of the book, and it still seemed like it was in the prologue. I get that the harsh military training the characters endure is a big part of the story, but does it have to be so much of it? Call me cynical, but I got tired real quick of all the sob stories. Enough of the poor little boys abandoned by their parents already; this ain’t Little Orphan Annie. And OK, it’s pretty clear these 6th Order fellas are supposed to be all badass. I just don’t need to know every detail of what it takes to earn their Eagle Scout badges. There is a good story in here somewhere; I did enjoy the parts that take place in the present. It’s just buried under all the writing. The dialogue isn’t very realistic and the story comes across as overly planned-out instead of flowing. All due respect to Mr. Ryan; I apologize for being a hater, but there is just nothing special enough about Blood Song to hold its own against all the other good fantasy books that are currently out there. Anthony Ryan definitely has potential, but Blood Song isn’t there yet.

7.8/10 from 4 reviews

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