For my latest read, I chose something more known, Anthony Ryan’s Blood Song. The book follows Vaelin Al Sorna since being left at the gates of Sixth Order as ten-years-old boy through his training and eventually through series of conflicts.
I’ll try to be unspecific to avoid spoilers and for that reason, say very little about anything that goes in second part of the book.
The first part of the book deals with the harsh training Vaelin and his fellow students are put through, all that while being angry on being left behind by his father.
While the training is harsh, the trials supposed to test them are even worse – those who fail to pass would be dropped out with just a bit of coin, and that in case they make it back alive.
Vaelin does not need to face only the dangers of wilderness in winter, devoid of sustenance, but also has to avoid outlaws that would not hesitate to kill anyone. He also meets two people that will give him a bit to think about.
By the end of the first part, he and his friend are prevented to go to the city’s folk fair as supposed punishment for slacking, but the reason is deeper, concerning Vaelin’s friend Nortah (so much I’ll say without spoilers).
The second part goes in similar style as Vaelin and his friends go on with their training, Valein sometimes having sparse chances to learn a bit more about his family and eventually why he was sent to train there. He realizes that not only his parents, but even the King and the Princess had schemes of their own, some of which he was supposed to be a part of. And the fact that times changed and old plans are gone does not mean there will not be new schemes. Even the Order has its secrets and Vaelin finds himself entangled in them.
Eventually, after dealing some trouble in his land, the King sends him oversea to fight in a war he was fabricating in his schemes for quite some time and Vaelin makes his name there, not just in combat but also when dealing with trouble in the city he’s taken and is supposed to hold.
I’ll end my writing about the plot here, to avoid saying too much and to avoid spoilers (hence why I said much more about first half than the rest).
The book i split into five parts (of which the fifth is pretty much the ending), each started as recollection by his enemy’s scribe. That itself felt slightly confusing at the beginning (as I had no idea by who is it told) and the very end (for reasons I won’t say because of spoilers). In these, Vaelin is called ‘Hope killer’ since the start, but the reason is revealed only some 70-80% into the book, adding to strange feeling. Same with the first direct mention of ‘Blood song’ after which the book is named.
The ending itself raised more questions than it answered, possible for the sequels to deal with them.
As for storytelling and characters, in that part I liked this book. Vaelin and his friends had their strengths and weaknesses and the harsh training made them make the best of it and use them together.