Blood Song is a really, really good fantasy book. Nothing it does particularly reinvents the wheel, but everything it does do is just done so WELL. It was very enjoyable to listen to, particularly since the narrator had a wonderful storytelling voice.
Vaelin Al Sorna was a young boy when his mother died, and his father the Battle Lord left him at the steps of the religious Sixth Order, a group of warrior monks who fight for the Faith. Feeling abandoned and angry, Vaelin embraces life as a Brother of the Sixth Order, forming a makeshift family out the Brothers in his year. Vaelin also turns out to be exceptionally gifted at fighting, and his personality soon sets him on the path to leadership.
The book is told in the form of flashbacks. The frame story begins with Vaelin giving a full account (or the version he’s most comfortable calling full) to a historian from an Empire that currently holds Vaelin captive. Five years before, Vaelin killed the Emperor’s heir, earning himself the name “Hope-Killer”, but most people have Vaelin’s story entirely wrong. He takes the chronicler through his childhood all the way up until his capture, only we readers get the full version, not the edited out one he gives the chronicler. It’s episodic in nature, spending time in one era of Vaelin’s life before skipping ahead again and again to the next bit of import. It’s a fantasy bildungsroman, and we’re all caught up to the frame by the time the book ends.
Threaded throughout Vaelin’s history are hints of overarching stories that will surely play out in future books: a mysterious order, a hidden enemy, and Vaelin’s own magical gift, the Blood Song.
Like I said, most of this has been done before: the young hero receives training and becomes great, a sinister bad guy hidden in the shadows, religious persecution, witch hunts, wars, found families, etc. And it starts out very Rothfussian, with a legendary/infamous figure giving the real story that’s hidden among all the mythologizing and villainizing done by people when they talk about him. But the way Ryan puts it all together just works.
Already ordered book two from the library, but a bit upset it will be hard copy. Stupid free library, only having books one and three in audio.