Heroes will rise. Nations will fall.
Behind the towering walls of Belduar, Calen Bryer and his companions stand in defense of the city and its new king. In over a thousand years, Belduar has never fallen. It has stood as a bastion of hope. But the Lorian empire are at its walls once more, and the Dragonguard are coming.
In the North, with Faenir by her side, Calen’s sister Ella arrives at the port of Antiquar. She holds no fear of the unknown. She will see this through, no matter what – or who – gets in her way.
Meanwhile, at the embassy of the Circle of Magii in Al’Nasla, Rist Havel hones his newfound powers in preparation for the trials. Unbeknownst to Rist, he is being watched, measured, and judged. He was not taken into the Circle by chance. There is greatness in him. But great men can do terrible things.
As Lorian forces land on southern shores and Aeson Virandr’s letters of rebellion find their way to the right hands, only the Knights of Achyron see the true danger. The danger that stirs in the darkness. The coming shadow will not stop. It will consume all in its path. It wants for nothing but blood and fire.
First, thank you very much to Ryan for the ARC – this didn’t influence my review, the great writing did.
Arrows whoosh. Fire burns. Hearts beat. Blood pumps, spills; in its beginning, Of Darkness and Light is visceral like the Fall, but this situation seems entirely worse. What starts in fire and loss end in complete darkness with a singular ray of light that is the exciting, jaw-dropping cliff-hanger that rounds off such an expansive novel. It lifts the lid on the story that started with Of Blood and Fire. The Dragonguard and the imperial army descend upon one boy and his adolescent dragon. The night holds its breath as we wait for the fires to come …
The world expands in front of us and literally swells in the number of pages, this book was a whopping 900+ … so, it turns the series from epic fantasy to EPIC fantasy. Kingspass, Drifiaien, the lesser travelled windship tunnels under the watchful eye of pockets of Heraya’s Ward, Kerathlin, and other creatures you wouldn’t want to be left alone with … it’s very much a successor to the first in every new step on the map as it expands ahead of the main cast. It improves on the world in every way you’d want it to; the book is bigger, the characters do a lot more, they develop, they hurt, they fight.
Added to the bestiary with wyvern, wyrm, kerathlin, and their chittering, horrifying footsteps most of all, populate the story with danger; the world expands in ways to kill our heroes. It presents new, and often increasingly dangerous, ways to stop our heroes from the direct path they wish to tread. Not to mention the Urak and their growing numbers; even though the story starts out with the Dragonguard, I very much felt like this was a battle against the ever-growing Urak attacks, the devastation they’re causing at the lead of the Shaman. All these different types of creature pave the way for the feeling our favourite heroes are never far from death, which in turn really does lend itself to the pace of the book despite the mammoth page count. Cahill keeps the tension up with the ‘kerathlin/Empire/Uraks/Inquisitors are coming…’ much in the same vein as the pacing technique ‘the orcs are coming…’ works.
And ending with that massive battle with Kallindor, Calen finally meeting the sentinel armoured Warriors of Archon was AMAZING, I seriously loved the end to this book, who would’ve thought it’d end twice as epic as the first? Fades and nithral converge, heroes gather. Swords of black and a Shaman … an Urak Shaman: the worst of all enemies. What an end.
A dynamic shift. Calen who was so worried about taking life now does so freely. There’s a huge, fast development in his character, which I’m not entirely sure whether it comes from the speed at which I read this book (3 days and some 900 pages) or whether it is Calen developing fast with the help of his dragon. While I appreciate a hero must rise to the challenge, it does seem that he – at times – makes leaps and bounds in the way of magical abilities, but this is perhaps an innate talent, the powers afforded to those who are bound in fire. I have it on good authority that there’s just a few more books to come, so it would be nice to get to see exactly how far these gifts stretch. Calen is a bit of a Mary sue. Well, for the first part of the book – either that, or he’s a natural with Spark. But he does learn quickly and only must glimpse a spell to get a handle on it, which is fine. That is balanced in some way, and it doesn’t last the whole book. There’s certainly danger. I do like the way his connection to Valerys really sways his thoughts and we do go through an emotional battle there … adds detriment to this new power, another facet that makes a worthy trade-off to the immense power he is sporting.
Overall, as I’ve said before, this is one of my favourite self-pub series, I really do recommend you pick it up. Ryan is a great author; the books are produced to such a high quality.