Of Blood and Fire by Ryan Cahill review

Hello!  Welcome to the latest (and last) post and review of the year on the Swordsmith blog, westu hal to you.  I hope that you had a lovely Christmas however you spent it and however you celebrate as well.  

While this may be the final post of the year, do not despair as the blog will of course be back next year.  Vesna has some extining posts planned and I have as well, as well as something a bit different but if you know me then it will all make sense when it arrives.

Anyway, you came here for the review and I have been excited to share this one for some time. You may have seen me ranting and raving about this series on Twitter, Instagram as well.  If you haven’t heard of The Bound and the Broken by Ryan Cahill then I hope this post will peak your interest. 

Here is a link to my review of The Fall which is book 0.5 in the series.

Now it’s time for the premise!

The Premise

Born in fire. Tempered in blood.

Epheria is a land divided by war and mistrust. The High Lords of the south squabble and fight, only kept in check by the Dragonguard, traitors of a time long past, who serve the empire of the North.

In the remote villages of southern Epheria, still reeling from the tragic loss of his brother, Calen Bryer prepares for The Proving—a test of courage and skill that not all survive.

But when three strangers arrive in the village of Milltown, with a secret they are willing to die for, Calen’s world is ripped from under him and he is thrust headfirst into a war that has been raging for centuries.

There is no prophecy. His coming was not foretold.

He bleeds like any man, and bleed he will

The Review

This book will grab you from the beginning, the prologue is as mysterious as it is compelling. The aftermath of a battle (a firm favorite of mine) between a human force, Uraks and a force of Knights.  There is a line in this section which has resonated with me for some time 

“No decision is straightforward.  Black and white do not exist.  We live in a world of ever-shifting grey.”

This sets a precedent for the rest of the book, and I knew I was hooked with this book as soon as I read the prologue.  The action switches quickly and we are put into the life of one Calen Bryer, a young man from a village in the Southlands of Epheria – he is set on taking part and winning a competition with his friends Dan and Rist called the Proving. I really enjoyed the opening chapters of the book, Ryan takes the time and care to establish the relationship between the three boys and their place in the village.

Within the first 100 pages, village life, the proving and the memory of events that haunt Calen come to the fore and events happen which start to push the story forward.  What I enjoyed about this is that we discover the world through Calen, Dan and Rist, the world which they know and it allows the mystery of the rest of the world to remain just that. It allows for the worldbuilding of the world the boys know to be developed wonderfully, and it’s handled brilliantly as well.

The story does develop very nicely as the world expands with Calen’s travels and significant events occur which change the course of Calen, Dan and Rist’s lives.  Believe the part of the blurb “Bleed he will”, as from a certain point in the book the world really expands and events move the boys on their journey of discovery.  

This book ticked all the right boxes for me in fantasy, an interesting and well developed world, brilliant characters and side characters and an intriguing magic system. The multiple POVs employed are effective as the shifting perspectives are important for the story.  Ryan has also created an intriguing and awesome magic system which is  based around the elements. It’s a hard magic system which are my favorite and it becomes more and more important as the story goes forward.   It’s also quite easy to imagine as the characters do it, which is one of the ways Ryan immerses the reader in this epic fantasy world!

The world of Epheria is wonderful as well, full of detail and wonders.  The genius of secondary creation is on show in this book, the world is developed and waiting for the reader to discover and get lost in as well.  While you primarily follow Calen and his journey, another journey that you follow is that of Ella his sister and the world is revealed a bit more through her.  Everything from traditions, religion and customs are on show in this world, but I won’t say too much more as some of it could be considered a spoiler, but I will say the worldbuilding is the major way that Ryan immerses the reader into this amazing book and considering it is a debut novel as well- yes it really is fantastic!

So there you are, Of Blood and Fire is a book that easily gets my recommendation to read as soon as you can!  It is a book that ticks all of my checklists for what I look for in a fantasy book.  It kicks off an epic fantasy saga that has made its way to one of my top reads of 2021 and is another example of how awesome the self published fantasy genre has become recently.  This is a character driven, epic work of fantasy that will whet your appetite for what is to come, and with book 2 publishing tomorrow you won’t need to wait long at all.

That’s all from me in this final post and review of the year, thank you for checking out the blog and sticking with me through this post.  The blog will be back in the New Year with reviews from myself, Vesna and a giveaway – yes you heard it here first and it’s an exciting one as well.

I do hope that you are staying safe, reading something awesome and finally westu hal.

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