Book of the Year 2014 (see all)
Earlier this year I had the opportunity to binge through a batch of new books that had come out throughout 2013 and very early-2014, and ended up finding some new favourite authors – names such as Miles Cameron, Brian Stavely, Brian McClellan, and the topic of today’s review, Anthony Ryan. I ended up reviewing ‘Blood Song’ 8/10 and I wrote in summary;
Beautifully written, wonderfully cast and populated, Anthony Ryan does indeed seem to be placing himself as one of the next master storytellers
I’ve also been a pretty harsh judge of second books in a series – so many authors seem to stumble at this point of the race. However, I am pleased to say that not only has Anthony Ryan not stumbled with his second book, ‘Tower Lord’, but he has improved.
I have spent a lot of time reading fantasy books trying to recover the magic of the first book fantasy book I ever read. The recipe requires an equal mix of strong characters, strong world-building, a well-conceived story, and beautiful writing. Finding a book that has these ingredients mixed together in equal portion is difficult – finding a book that mixes them in large quantities even more difficult.
My first ever fantasy book was The Lord of the Rings, and I think that I can finally say for the first time that I have found an author who may one day manage to attain the same level of magic I found the first time I read Tolkien.
Often compared to David Gemmell, and an author who draws inspiration from Robin Hobb, Anthony Ryan is not “the next Tolkien” – I dislike such statements. That being said, though, I do feel as if Tower Lord is the book most similar in structure, execution, and style to Tolkien’s magnum opus.
Tower Lord tells a story from four perspectives. Any more than one perspective is sometimes enough to raise the eyebrows of seasoned readers – but fear not, for Ryan deals with each character’s point of view equally and beautifully. There is no one-perspective that I disliked or wanted to skip through – rather, for one of the first times, I was equally anticipating each and every POV. The respective characters are so integral to the story, yet still independent and different, that you are never bored. Each chapter draws another line onto a larger canvas, the shape of which we are only just beginning to unravel – I admit, I hope that this series does not end up being restricted to a stereotypical- trilogy.
Ryan still has some ways to go. There are some unsubtle editing errors that bespeak a new author, and the last five chapters seemed to rush to an end – maybe a page deadline or simply lazy writing, I’m not sure. But these are minor qualms in the scheme of things, and serve only to show that the author has a ways to grow. And he is growing, as can be seen in the maturity between book 1 and 2.
Tower Lord by Anthony Ryan finally begins to realise the imagination and coherency of Tolkien, while remaining true to the heart and soul of the author. The ‘Raven’s Shadow’ series is one of the best new series out there, challenging all the existing big-names to sit up and take notice, or be left behind.
Review by Joshua S Hill
1 positive reader review(s) for Tower Lord
by Anthony Ryan
For decades the brothers of the Sixth Order have fought a savage war against the Lonak clans amidst the frozen peaks of their Dominion. When word reaches t [...]
Series: Raven\'s Shadow
Our rating: 8.2 | positive reader reviews
by Anthony Ryan
Vaelin Al Sorna's life changes for ever the day his father abandons him at the gates of the Sixth Order, a secretive military arm of the Faith. Together with his fellow [...]
Series: Raven\'s Shadow #1
Our rating: 9.0 | positive reader reviews
by Anthony Ryan
Vaelin Al Sorna is tired of war. He's fought countless battles in service to the Realm and Faith. His reward was the loss of his love, the death of his friends and a be [...]
Series: Raven\'s Shadow #2
Our rating: 9.0 | positive reader reviews
by Anthony Ryan
Queen Lyrna has survived the bloody siege of Alltor. Now she must rally her troops and take back the capital from the Volarian invaders. But driving her hated enemy out of [...]
Series: Raven\'s Shadow #3
Our rating: 9.5 | positive reader reviews
by Anthony Ryan
For decades the lands of the Ironship Syndicate have been defended by the Blood-blessed - men and women able to channel the powers contained in the potent blood of wild dra [...]
Series: Draconis Memoria #1
Our rating: 6.0 | 0 positive reader reviews
Rodrigo from España
Awesome book. Still need to read the third one. I can't even believe some of the reviews here saying it's bad. Can some of the reviewers who gave it less than a 5 tell me what fantasy books they do love? Because I enjoyed Blood Song and Tower Lord so much.
Lewis from Australia
Terrible. I didn't even think Blood Song was all that great either - lacking originality and depth, and adhering to wornout overused cliches and plots - but at least it had readability and flow. Tower Lord is tedious and a chore to read, and i totally agree with other readers when they mention the characters personalities have no real variation. It's dry .. not well written at all, and yeah more than a few cringe moments whilst reading. Kind of like watching a B grade low budget fantasy film in fact .. lol Master story teller my arse .. its like a bunch of plagiarized not-as-well-written snippets from every other fantasy book i've ever read. 2 stars because he deserves one just for getting it published in the first place. Let's hope Anthony Ryan improves with time
Cyric London from Canada
Compared to Blood song, this novel is a pile of dung. I do not what happened. Was it rushed before it was ready in attempt to capitalize on the success of Blood Song ? Its hard to believe it is even the same writer. I have never been so disappointed with a novel's sequel in my lifetime. Those enamored with Vaelin will be disappointed to find this novel providing less then 20% on his development. Plot development moves at snails pace. Gone is the camaraderie of the brothers. In fact with the exception of Caenis none of the brothers are even around anymore replaced with characters that hold zero attraction. I find myself totally disinterested and detached from the characters and the story. In contrast, with Blood Song, I was absolutely riveted to every single page. I think with writer's big mistake was deviating away from Vaelin and his relationships. In Tower Lord he wanders around aimlessly with no purpose. He has no romantic partner, his fellowship with his brothers is gone, he is faithless, his dog is gone, his amusing horse is gone, court intrigue and the realm's struggles is finished. This is book is a train wreck.
Rob from Wales
Ugh, problems with this book are so many 1) Ryan seems to have lost all sense of charecterisation, it feels like there is nothing diferentiating them at all, you could swap Vaelin and Frentis, even Reva around and it would be no different. 2 )All charecters are super Mary Sues, this wasn't so bad in Blood Song because there was only one charecter with a huge training build up so I could deal with it, jsut about but this... no way. 3) The cliches really started to bug me about half way thorugh the book and it only got worse. Not plot cliches, I can deal with them, that's what the whole of the fantasy genre is built on. But cliched writing, expressions and sayings all the way through. 4) Coupled with 3, really bad dialogue, like seriously unbelievable dialogue that would jolt me out of the book. 5) Join it all toghether with a bad plot which dragged so much at the beginning that by the time it got to something of interrest points 1 to 4 had already killed my interest. Bonus point number 6) katanas... it's like super weaboo bs shoehorned in and I physically cringed when I read the section where Reva got her sword. All in all Ryan seems to have lost what made Blood Song interesting, I skim read the last 100 pages it was that bad.
Gary from USA
How anyone can possibly claim that Tower Lord improves upon Blood Song is completely beyond me. Did you read the same book that I did? The book I read was disjointed, terribly paced, dry, bland, and full of clichés and predictability. The pacing was terrible, the new characters were hollow, and the ending was so jarringly abrupt and downright bad that I was left with a foul taste in my mouth that has lasted for months.
Vivek from India
I read the book immediately after its release. I was disappointed. It didn't have the magic of Blood Song. I didn't get the smooth story telling as in the first book. This was jagged and was in bits and pieces. Most importantly, I lost my sense of touch with Vaelin. I didn't relate to him that much. But hoping Mr. Ryan will not be bothered with this review and bring back the magic of Vaelin AlSorna for the third book.
David from United States
For whatever reason, this review completely distorts the differences between Ryan's two novels and the impact this has on reader's expectations. I would really like to see a point by point comparison showing how your review justifies "Blood Song" ranking below "Tower Lord." Infatuation with Tolkien's "magic" maybe YOUR formula for defining fantasy, however, I suggest Anthony Ryan take note that a significant number of readers feel betrayed by his new-found editorial "improvements." At the time I submit this, 97% of all Amazon readers/reviewers rated "Blood Song" with 4 or 5 stars averaging to 4.8 stars. In contrast, "Tower Lord" was rated well below this with only 62% of all Amazon readers awarding 4 or 5 stars to average 3.8 stars. These are REAL numbers, not one reviewer's "gestalt." Clearly, whatever artistic or style improvements you see between the author's "first" and "second" novels was NOT shared or appreciated by readers/reviewers who actually PAY to read his novels. This may go a long way to explain why "traditional" publishing houses and bookstores are going out of business.
Edward from US
I also disagree with this review. I was really looking forward to this book and felt that it came up way short. The main character was a guest star and not all that interesting when he did make an appearance. The only good thing to come out of this book is that I won't be as impatient for the next one in the series.
Chris from London
1 star may be a bit unfair but I'm going with my gut here. Blood Song was like a cool breeze blowing through the vast feild full mundane fantasy books. It was so refreshing to find a new fantasy series that broke away from the monotonous drawl I am so used to reading. Tower Lord was like a warm fart.
Helen from England
Sorry, but I have to agree with Christopher and disagree with the reviewer. Blood Song was a truly exceptional first fantasy novel, and I dashed out to by Tower Lord as soon as it was published, dying to read more of Vaelin's story. Unfortunately, this is not what I got. For reasons that escape me (but might have something to do with time constraints in writing the second novel, editorial decisions, simple ease of writing and a desire to drag out the story to more books) the book was told from the point of view of four different characters, and Vaelin's story was spoilt as a result. After the genius of Blood Song (and anyone who enjoys the fantasy genre and has not read that book should read it NOW - seriously, it was that good) this was an incredibly disappointing second novel.
Christopher from Finland
I completely disagree with almost everything in this review. While Blood Song certainly is one of the greatest masterpieces ever to be published in the fantasy genre, Tower Lord leaves most of the readers dissapointed and utterly confused; "what in the world happened??!". While not wanting to spoil anything, I dare say Tower Lord missed the target in every aspect where Blood Song nailed them spot on. Quoting from the review by Joshua: "The respective characters are so integral to the story, yet still independent and different, that you are never bored." - Have we really read the same book? All the main characters think alike, you could almost believe they are the same characters if not for the names.
3.8/10 from 12 reviews
by Andrzej Sapkowski
The Wizards Guild has been shattered by a coup and, in the uproar, Geralt was seriously injured. The Witcher is supposed to be a guardian of the innocent, a protector of th [...]
Series: The Witcher #5
Our rating: 9.5 | 0 positive reader reviews
by Andrzej Sapkowski
Geralt is a witcher, a man whose magic powers, enhanced by long training and a mysterious elixir, have made him a brilliant fighter and a merciless assassin. Yet he is no o [...]
Series: The Witcher #1
Our rating: 9.0 | 4 positive reader reviews