A scribe opens the book journeying on a ship
while recording the story of The Hope Killer. The Hope was the popular heir to the
Emperors throne, much loved by his people until he was slain in battle. As The Hope
Killer tells his story to the scribe, we see it in flashbacks.
Vealin Al Sorna was a young boy when his mother died and he was not close
to his father, the Kings Battle Lord. One day his father takes him to an imposing
guarded gate and leaves, having given him to the Sixth Order, soldier who are defenders of
the faith. The Order takes in boys to train as soldiers and Vaelin grows up there with his
brothers. The trainees take tests every year pass to the next level of training or die
Michael J Sullivan recommended this book so I had to read it and it was
well worth the time it took. A very large book, the story is an epic fantasy that tells
the story of how a boy became a legend. The plot is strong, with many twists and turns and
of course moments. The characters are engaging and there is a loyal dog
awww. The ending had some interesting revelations and I look to continuing The Hope
I highly recommend this book if you enjoy epic fantasy tales.
- Jan Butterworth
Blood Song is Anthony Ryans first book and originally
started life as an e-book before being picked up by Orbit for print publication. I think
Orbit has made a very wise choice in backing Mr Ryans writing talents.
Blood Song is a story in six synergistic parts. There are the
five formal parts of the novel plus the commentary by and conversation between the central
character and an historian-cum-archivist, who is seeking to get the enemys point of
view after a turbulent little war. Each part adds a layer that if missed takes that bit
extra away from the whole.
The story of Blood Song is nothing unusual. Boy is trained from
young age in martial arts and finds he has a natural talent for them. He is preternatural
gifted in a society that fears such gifts and must hide his ability. Over the years, and
at odd intervals, he is singled out with murderous intent by a party or parties unknown.
And all through this he turns into a character that I, as reader, grew to care about and
want to know where-to-now young hero?
However, the delivery is unusual as it plots a path to known failure by way of past
successes. This device left this reader wondering how the hero fell so low as to be a
prisoner of war given his potentially glittering future as the story progresses. The five
parts are told in flashback telling the reader about the life and making of a hero to be,
while the bridging commentaries at the start of each part presage and expand upon a
failure of monumental proportions. Not the normal projectory at all for a hero.
Of late I have become jaded with the heroic fantasy novel. Through his use of current
failure with flashbacks of success Anthony Ryan has freshened my reading pallet and I am
looking forward to any further books in this, the Ravens Shadow, sequence. A piquant
dish that can be taken as either first course in a series or by itself as a standalone
story, but I would strongly recommend the former choice.