Sunday, April 20, 2014

Book Review: Blood Song

Well, it's been a while since I've posted, and even longer since I've done a book review. However, I recently finished a book that I thought was quite excellent: Blood Song, by Anthony Ryan.

Blood Song is an epic fantasy in the tradition of The Name of the Wind. The setup is a bit different, but there are certainly some similarities. In this, we start with a first-person, present day account by a historian who has met Vaelin Al'Sorna (our main character), who is about to face a battle to the death, which is intended as an execution because he killed the next-in-line to the throne of a country.

Once we're introduced to this timeline, we switch to a third-person narrative following Vaelin, from the moment he was dropped off at an Order of religious fighters to the moment the book begins. In between, we see all the things that have shaped Vaelin and get a taste of the interesting future set in store for him.

Much like Kvothe in The Name of the Wind, Vaelin is a larger-than-life character. The book follows his exploits, and a lot of interesting things happen during his time growing up with the Order. It's a strongly character-driven narrative with a sympathetic and compelling main character. There is also a fair amount of action, including some large-scale battles later on.

While this story didn't do anything particularly groundbreaking, something about it drew me in just like the narrative in The Name of the Wind. I think people looking for a similar story will find a lot to like here. There's enough about this one that separates it, though, making it a truly excellent book.

Blood Song was originally self-published, but it has since been picked up by major publishers. With good reason. It's a great story with a compelling main character and a world layered with mystery. It also stands alone for the most part. There's obviously more to come, but I came away from this book feeling like I read a satisfying story. Not to mention, the interesting stuff here actually happens in book 1. As much as I loved The Name of the Wind (and The Wise Man's Fear to a lesser extent), I found Rothfuss was teasing us by mentioning exploits that wouldn't happen until the third book.

There is none of that here. You get the complete story up to the point of the frame story, which I really enjoyed. That's also why I think I actually liked this more than The Name of the Wind. If you're looking for a good fantasy read, you should check this one out.

Rating: 9.5/10

For my review of Tower Lord (the followup to Blood Song), click here