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.
Of Blood and Fire is the beginning of a promising adventure.
Said adventure starts as we encounter our three main protagonists, namely Calen, Dann, and Rist. These three young men must prove themselves capable of surviving in the wilderness by passing a test called The Proving. They enter an ethereal forest as boys and come out of it as men… and also very much disturbed by what they experienced in there.
Even though the story has a slow-paced beginning, it quickens as it moves forward. First, the reader gets to know the protagonists and what their daily life looks like, only to realize later how far they have been changed by the events they went through. While reading, the sequence of epic scenes caught my attention to a point where I was urged to continue. Now that I have time to think about it more clearly, I begin to think that the second half of the book may have benefitted from a slower pace. Although I enjoyed the epic sequences, I cannot dismiss this (somehow good) feeling of frustration. I wanted to learn more about everything!
The worldbuilding is certainly compelling and adds a modern twist to tropes from classic fantasy. My curiosity however would have loved a bit more context in between action scenes. In my opinion, the events unfolded one after another without satisfying links between causes and effects. It would have been interesting to dwell a bit more on the different agendas from the various races, and on what is really at stake for them. I will shortly read the prequel The Fall, hoping that it will fulfill some of these blanks.
What stuck with me the most is the characterization and the dynamic that Ryan Cahill created, not only between the main protagonists, but also between primary and secondary characters. Calen, Dann, and Rist demonstrated a strong and heartwarming friendship, which reminded me of Rand, Mat, and Perrin in the Wheel of Time. I was pleased to see the characters driving the narrative forward as they were thrown into this unexpected journey. They knew their actions would have consequences even though they sometimes experience strong emotions leading to unintended repercussions. I feel like they will each evolve significantly by the end of their journey, and I cannot wait to witness it.
Overall, I highly enjoyed this read from the beginning to the end and I will read anything by this author whose potential is undeniable. Ryan Cahill’s works provide excellent escapism and that’s everything I’m asking for. I would recommend this book to anyone seeking a breathtaking adventure.
Book #2 Of Darkness and Light is on its way and will be read very soon.
(English is not my native language, but it was easy enough to read. I would recommend giving it a try, even if you think that your level is too low.)