Hello! Welcome to the first post and review of the year here on the Swordsmith blog, westu hal to you. I hope that you have had a lovely New Year, mine was peaceful and relaxing and I have kicked off my ambitious 50 book reading challenge and am already on to my second book.
This is my first review of 2022, and it is of a book in a series that has easily made it into my highly recommended reads. If you have been following me you may have heard of my love of this series, and after finishing book 2 it is emerging to be one of the top indie fantasy series of recent times!
I was very lucky to receive an eARC as well as a physical ARC from the author – I am of course talking about Of Darkness and Light, book 2 of The Bound and the Broken by Ryan Cahill. I bid you welcome to my review of this amazing book! Welcome to my review of Of Darkness and Light!
I was kindly offered an eARC and physical ARC of the book and I am gladly offering my honest review!
Now hold tight for the premise.
Heroes will rise. Nations will fall.
Behind the towering walls of Belduar, Calen Bryer and his companions stand in defense of the city and its new king. In over a thousand years, Belduar has never fallen. It has stood as a bastion of hope. But the Lorian empire are at its walls once more, and the Dragonguard are coming.
In the North, with Faenir by her side, Calen’s sister Ella arrives at the port of Antiquar. She holds no fear of the unknown. She will see this through, no matter what – or who – gets in her way.
Meanwhile, at the embassy of the Circle of Magii in Al’Nasla, Rist Havel hones his newfound powers in preparation for the trials. Unbeknownst to Rist, he is being watched, measured, and judged. He was not taken into the Circle by chance. There is greatness in him. But great men can do terrible things.
As Lorian forces land on southern shores and Aeson Virandr’s letters of rebellion find their way to the right hands, only the Knights of Achyron see the true danger. The danger that stirs in the darkness. The coming shadow will not stop. It will consume all in its path. It wants for nothing but blood and fire.
This book is fantastic! It’s a much longer book as well than Of Blood and Fire so you get more time in the amazing world of Epheria. It picks up not too long after the end of the first book and it starts with a bang as well! What I really noticed about this book was the darker tone than the first book, this is nothing like Dark Fantasy,but the risks and stakes of the story still make this an amazing work of epic fantasy.
I was very grateful that Ryan included a what has happened before section, because despite reading The Fall and Of Blood and Fire recently, the subtle art of remembering everything important about a book sadly eludes me. So thank you Ryan for embracing this tradition! Something I really enjoyed about the book was the writing, Ryan’s writing has gone up a level from The Fall and Of Blood and Fire. There is something wonderfully immersive about it, I was reading this book for far longer than I thought and when I eventually reached the end I had to take a break from reading. Ryan is wonderful with his characters in this book, they go amazing journeys, both in the story and in themselves, and he writes incredible cinematic action scenes that really pull you along.
This is leading me nicely now to the characters, and how amazingly wonderful they are. Even in The Fall the characters took hold and I mean all of them, then in Of Blood and Fire the characters really began to mean something to me, then through Of Darkness and Light I am fully invested in these characters and cannot wait for book 3. The cast, much like everything in this book, gets bigger. Everyone is important, has a part to play and Ryan is clearly a master of this. The characters are wonderful due to being so individualistic, their voices are so uqique and the use of multiple POV’s was again a wonderful stroke.
There were two sets of character relationships which I loved in the book, they were Dayne and his sister Alina. And of course Calen and Valerys, I am really beginning to love stories of Dragons and their riders. Dayne and his sister Alina is a play on the found family trope and it was wonderful, absolutely wonderful to see them repair their relationship. The other was Calen and Valerys, these two characters are wonderful and I am really enjoying seeing them bond and learn to trust one another. As I have mentioned, stories of Dragons and their riders were not my gateway to fantasy, but they have shown me a wonderful side of it.
While I have already mentioned the magic system, it’s connection to the elements and how different factions use it. It’s interesting to see it develop here, particularly with Rist’s part of the story and his journey. Anything I say further would be considered a bit of a spoiler, so let me just say the magic system is fantastic!
One of my major compliments of the first two books is worldbuilding, in Of Darkness and Light Ryan is clearly demonstrating his mastery, it’s amazing! The book is epic fantasy at it’s finest, the scope of the book is huge! In the first two books you focus on some quite specific locations and while it opens up in Of Blood and Fire, the veil is lifted in this book as the world of Epheria is revealed. What a world it is, we are introduced to so many new areas, so many different cultures and it was wonderful! I mean truly wonderful to experience all of this and the writing which has elevated helps bring the epic and beautiful world of Epheria to life!
This book is incredible, it’s on my recommended reading list to read immediately and if you haven’t started The Bound and The Broken then it’s a series I highly recommend as well. Epic classic fantasy, Dragons, Knights, and world at stake it’s all here and it’s all brilliant as well. I cannot wait for Book 3 which is called Of War and Run and I believe there may be another novella coming out as well.
That’s all from me on this one, thank you for sticking with me on this review and thank you for checking the blog out as well. I really hope that you are staying safe, reading something awesome and finally, westu hal.