Saturday 1 October 2016

REVIEW: Bloodsong

I won't lie, some small but undeniable part of me came to this book hoping to find fault. It would take a better man than me to watch Anthony Ryan's barnstorming success without a twinge of envy.

Sadly I have to report that this is a very good book and deserves the five stars I've given it.

Ryan writes well, he brings his world and characters to life with good description. It's as a story-teller he shines though, and a good story is always the keystone of a bestseller. 

Schools in fantasy books are like crack cocaine to readers. The Wizard of Earthsea, Magician, Harry Potter, The Magicians, Name of the Wind (I think), it goes on, and if not a school per se then an extended training period apprenticed to some master (The Lies of Locke Lamora, The Way of Shadows etc). Blood Song has a battle school as its central focus and we watch our protagonist progress from small boy to large young man through arduous training and a series of very dangerous tests, acquiring a group of firm friends with various talents as he goes.

This is all set in a skillfully executed flashback which our protagonist narrates to a historian on his way to a duel. The tale he tells moves past the school to national and then international conspiracy, politicking, and war. Finally it brings us full circle to the historian and the duel.

It's all good stuff. Don't come looking for great literature or deep themes, do come looking for a great story and a good time. 

I don't want to damn the book with faint praise - it deserves 5* and (& this is very high praise from me) it has heart, reminding me in many ways of David Gemmell's work.

The story is very morish, I read this rather fat book in just a couple of weeks, which for me is incredibly fast. Let Vaelin's tale sink its teeth into you and you'll be cheering his victories, growling at his set-backs, and having all the feels in between in appropriate measure.

I begrudgingly affirm that Ryan deserves his success and commend Blood Song to your attention.

Update - we have the second book! My wife stole it and says it's as good as the first.

You can go and 'like' my review on goodreads, if you like.

An index of my reviews.


  1. Now you've gone and done it to me again---another book I will just HAVE to read. Mark, one question, buddy, how does a writer find the time to read other people's work? There's just so much to do, and , like yourself, the day job takes a lot of that precious time away.
    Half way through your King of Thorns book, and enjoying it. Loved the part where the fire mage is slain---awesome description, I could see it all playing out in my mind.

    And I'm also getting to know Jorg better--he is not as hard as he likes people to think he is.

    BTW, will you be going to any of the fantasy con events? I met up with Christian Cameron at the Scarborough one, and a few other talents like Frances Hardinge and uprising talent Scott Lynch. You can check them out on my webpage. Look under the 'News/Appearances' Tab. Please feel free to peruse my website:
    and leave as many comments as you like, just so i know you've popped by.

    Keep well.
    My next event is the Eastercon, and the Worldcon Helsinki after that. Maybe we might meet up there. Did you enjoy Imperial? I'm so and so about Civil Engineering: graduated in 1994, haven't looked back since, but still working as an engineer.

    Well, enough of me, see you


    Author Alex George

    1. Sadly, I don't travel:

      Nor do I read many books, but I do review all of them:

  2. I'm sorry I will not be able to see you at these events, Mark, and I now understand why. Travel is overrated, anyhow---I'd much rather be writing my books. But I'm very glad I met the people I did at the fantasycon event. Send me a private email anytime you like at and I'll send you picks, or pop into my site: there's an events page you can read.
    Love to the family: I'm a father of two, BTW.