Born in fire. Tempered in blood.
Epheria is a land divided by war and mistrust. The High Lords of the south squabble and fight, only kept in check by the Dragonguard, traitors of a time long past, who serve the empire of the North.
In the remote villages of southern Epheria, still reeling from the tragic loss of his brother, Calen Bryer prepares for The Proving—a test of courage and skill that not all survive.
But when three strangers arrive in the village of Milltown, with a secret they are willing to die for, Calen’s world is ripped from under him and he is thrust headfirst into a war that has been raging for centuries.
There is no prophecy. His coming was not foretold.
He bleeds like any man, and bleed he will.
“May The Mother embrace you,
and The Father protect you.
May The Warrior guide your hand and
The Maiden guide your mind.
May The Smith keep your blade sharp and
The Sailor see you to safe shores.”
I have been really craving classic fantasy recently and Of Blood and Fire was the perfect remedy for that craving. Right off the bat you can see Cahill’s love for the fantasy genre. Starting with the setting of a quaint village and the premise of an oppressive empire, Cahill takes the reader on a journey that is at once familiar and refreshing. I actually remember having similar feelings when I started Malice, book 1 in The Faithful and the Fallen series by John Gwynne.
This is the start of a coming of age story that follows our main character Calen for the majority of the POVs. I really enjoyed getting to know Calen and his two best friends that make up a trio, Dann and Rist. We actually get a few other POVs including Calen’s sister Ella and Rist here and there throughout the story. Both Rist and Ella’s stories had really cool twists towards the end and I am very intrigued as to where their parts of the plot will go in book 2!
“You are our family. Maybe not by blood, but water becomes just as thick as blood if you go through enough shit together.”
I want to give a shoutout to Ryan Cahill’s writing of action. Each description of a fight scene was pulse pounding and intense. Each sequence was high stakes and I was never sure who would survive. Very well done!
The plot moved at a good pace. We start out getting to know the characters and world, but before you know it there is an inciting incident that starts the trio of Calen, Rist, and Dann on an incredible journey. Fighting Uraks and the dreaded Fades are just a few of the things that Calen and company face throughout this first book. There are also giants, mages, elves, dwarves, and dragons involved!
“To Calen, a sword was a sword. Even sparring with Gaeleron, he saw little difference. But watching Ellisar, he understood. There was an elegance to the way he moved. If death could be beautiful, this was as close as it could come.”
I really appreciated the fact that Cahill wasn’t afraid to kill off named characters. Too often I find that the stakes of a story are lessened because you can basically expect that all of the good guys will be safe no matter what happens. Not so here. Cahill does a good job of keeping the stakes high and very real through these deaths and I think as this story goes on I am gonna be in for some heartbreak.
As you can tell by my rating, I loved this first installment in The Bound and the Broken series! Cahill has a way of taking well loved fantasy tropes and making them his own. If you like dragons and dragon riders, Uraks, Elves, Giants, Dwarves, and coming of age stories in a classic fantasy setting with some creative twists, read this book!