ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Cover art by: Books Covered
Of Blood And Fire by Ryan Cahill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: The Bound and the Broken (Book #1 of 4)
Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Epic Fantasy
Pages: 494 pages (Hardcover edition)
Published: 20th March 2021 by Ryan Cahill (Self-published)
Of Blood and Fire may not bring anything new to the genre, but it’s certainly another great modern take on classic fantasy.
Honestly, I’ve heard about Of Blood and Fire, Ryan Cahill’s debut, for more or less a year now. I remember the author messaging me about his upcoming work, and although I was already intrigued by what he pitched, I also never expected to read this book this soon. But here I am. After seeing how popular this book is on Amazon, and also after reading the prequel novella, The Fall, two months ago, I have to read this sooner.
“I didn’t want this. I certainly didn’t ask for it, but it is what fate has given me, and I will not walk away.”
The story in Of Blood and Fire, the first book in The Bound and the Broken series, begins in the remote villages of southern Epheria. Calen Bryer is still reeling from the tragic loss of his brother, and now he prepares for The Proving—a test of courage and skill that not all survive. But the lives of Calen and his friends are changed completely when three strangers arrive in the city of Milltown. They’re thrust into a war—read The Fall—that has been raging for centuries. There is no prophecy, and Calen’s coming was not foretold. He bleeds like any man and bleeds he will. This is the premise for Of Blood and Fire, and as you can probably predict from it, this is incredibly similar to a lot of classic fantasy premises and stories we know. And you won’t be wrong to think that way; Of Blood and Fire is filled with a lot of classic fantasy tropes, and it doesn’t add anything new to the genre, not yet anyway. However, there’s still a lot of things to appreciate and enjoy here.
“We must never dim our light so that others may shine.”
Of Blood and Fire felt like a mix of all the greats combined into one. For example, the three main characters—one of them being the chosen one minus the prophecy—from the same village reminded me of The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan, then the wolf animal companion, the giants, and The Proving in Olm Forest reminded me of Malice by John Gwynne. Plus, there’s also the soulblade that’s reminiscent of Shardblade—there’s even Wind Runner here—from The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson. The intensely deep bond between a dragon and its Draleid made me feel like I’m reading an adult fantasy version of Eragon by Paolini. And last but not least, let’s not forget about the elves, dwarves, and many more parts inspired by Tolkien. There’s still more, but you get the idea. I’m sure fantasy readers who love reading classic fantasy with a modern narrative—like I am—will enjoy this book. Of Blood and Fire never felt like plagiarism; it’s a blend of the goodness of the past and present.
“But when you blend something so completely, it is impossible for it to return to what it once was. Two souls blended together are not the sum of their parts, but something new entirely.”
The characters development was good, too. Family is one of the main themes of the novel, and Calen Bryer, Dann Pimm, and Rist Havel’s friendship felt genuine. I’ve experienced plenty of fantasy novels where they mentioned repeatedly that the main characters are friends, but they don’t act like one. There were a few repetitive statements and descriptions—the reliance on “lackadaisically” and “….is an understatement” were very noticeable, for example—but nothing major overall. Of Blood and Fire is Cahill’s debut, and a lot of it felt like it’s a groundwork for the rest of the series. I’m definitely looking forward to reading the next book, Of Darkness and Light, which will come out soon.
“As Dann so poetically explained… that is not how we do things. You are our family. Maybe not by blood, but water becomes just as thick as blood if you go through enough shit together. Simply put, we are not letting you do this alone. You go, we go.”
As I mentioned, I recommend Of Blood and Fire to fantasy readers who love reading a classic fantasy novel with a modern voice. This is the adult fantasy version of Eragon that readers will enjoy, and Cahill has done a wonderful job in creating the groundwork for The Bound and the Broken to shine. I will be keeping my fingers crossed that he’ll deliver on this. Also, the physical copy comes with four interior artworks illustrated by Aron Cahill. I’m closing this review with one of the illustrations inside:
Picture: Faenir by Aron Cahill
You can order the book from: Amazon
The quotes in this review were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
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