Review: Blood of an Exile (Dragons of Terra #1) by Brian Naslund

Rating: ★★★★☆+


First in the Dragons of Terra series, Brian Naslund’s Blood of an Exile is a fast-paced adventure perfect for comic readers and fans of heroic fantasy

Bershad stands apart from the world, the most legendary dragonslayer in history, both revered and reviled.

Once, he was Lord Silas Bershad, but after a disastrous failure on the battlefield he was stripped of his titles and sentenced to one violent, perilous hunt after another. Now he lives only to stalk dragons, slaughter them, collect their precious oil, and head back into the treacherous wilds once more. For years, death was his only chance to escape. But that is about to change.

The king who sentenced Bershad to his fate has just given him an unprecedented chance at redemption. Kill a foreign emperor and walk free forever.

The journey will take him across dragon-infested mountains, through a seedy criminal underworld, and into a forbidden city guarded by deadly technology.

But the links of fate bind us all.


Thanks to the publisher and author for an advanced reading copy of Blood of an Exile (Dragons of Terra #1) in exchange for an honest review. Receiving this ARC did not influence my thoughts or opinions on the novel.

Blood of an Exile (Dragons of Terra #1) will go down as one of the BEST fantasy debuts of 2019, alongside the likes of The Rage of Dragons (The Burning #1) by Evan Winter and The Gutter Prayer (The Black Iron Legacy #1) by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan. A sprawling epic filled with dragons, dragonslayers, alchemy, and assassins, Blood of an Exile is an exemplary beginning to the series and I cannot wait to see what else Naslund has up his sleeves.

While our main protagonist is Bershad and the story follows his journey, alongside his trustworthy donkey, Alfonso, for a majority of the novel, we are also introduced to a few more POVs and the chapters are broken down as such. We have an assassin named Garret, a “widow” named Vera (who, even after finishing the novel, remains quite peculiar), an alchemy apprentice named Jolan, and Ashleyn, heiress to the throne and daughter of the King who exiled Bershad. These characters and their chapters are enjoyable and add plenty of depth to the novel, all the while serving as fresh vantage points to the overall storyline and intertwining with Bershad’s mission. Having said that, Bershad’s ARC steals the show as far as engagement and intrigue. There are only so many things that can top dragonslaying and calls for Kings to be assassinated.

Naslund has a firm grip on characterization based on Book 1 of the series, but the world-building and fight scenes were top-notch. From the crowded streets to the seedy underbellies, the lowlands to the tops of mountains, you can easily picture the environments in which our characters are perusing. You can feel the dirt under their feet and the water as it hits the sides of boats, but you can also taste the blood as it flows from the slain bodies that lay in Bershad’s wake. It was absolutely stunning.

And trust me, there is plenty of blood.

If you are a fan of heroic/grimdark fantasy stories or just simply need more dragons in your life, give this debut a shot. I expect big things to come from Naslund as we dive deeper into the series and I hope you’ll come along for the ride.

11 Comments Add yours

  1. Sarah says:

    This sounds very interesting, but that cover is sort of killing me. It looks like some kind of shape shifter romance. I know that sounds terribly judgey- I don’t mean it to, but I think it’s that real person on red background doing me in. I have to wonder if the cover were different if I’d be seeing more of this book around.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Sarah says:

        Yup! That ones much better! Why am I not seeing that one more? Every time I’ve seen this one it was this cover. Is this a Tor release?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. David W says:

        Yes. The Tor US HC and paperback feature Bershad on the cover. The Tor UK edition features the dragon.
        I’m honestly fine with the US cover as the tattoos are apart of Bershad’s exile.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Sarah says:

        I’m surprised- usually Tor’s covers blow me away, or at least don’t disappoint me. Even though I like the UK cover I don’t particularly find either of them mind blowing. They have one artist they use that does the covers for some of my favorite books, I can’t think of the person’s name, but the books are Too Like the Lightning and the Luna series by Ian McDonald.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. David W says:

        Yeah. covers are better than Tor Book’s covers IMO. But IMO, Orbit has the best 😬

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Sarah says:

        Orbit does have good covers! I didn’t even realize there was a difference between Tor and Thought they were all the same!

        Liked by 1 person

      6. David W says:

        All under Macmillan, but different editorial staff, publicity, etc.

        Liked by 1 person

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    Liked by 1 person

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