Belduar, impenetrable for 1,000 years, has fallen to the Lorian Empire and the Dragonguard. The Empire itself struggles to hold back the surging hordes of Uraks that mercilessly slay all in their path.
Draleid Calen Bryer and his companions are forced to the underground Dwarven kingdoms to regroup and prepare for the rising rebellion.
Calen’s sister, Ella, journeys with her wolfpine Faenir while mourning the loss of her lover at the hands of the empire.
Newfound mage, Rist, learns how to unlock the magic of the Spark at the Circle of Magi in Al’Nasla and prepares himself for his first trial. Failure will see him cast out from the college and the Spark burned from his body.
Finally, Aeson Virandr’s letters of rebellion have been finding their way to all corners of the empire. Exiled Dayne Ateres returns home to the Valarian uprising, his sister now a fearsome wyvern rider intent on claiming her vengeance on the tyrannical empire.
A disclaimer – I received an e-Arc and physical arc from Ryan Cahill but this has in no way influenced this review. As a matter of fact, I pre-ordered this latest title from The Broken Binding.
Before continuing with the review, I wanted to credit the author with producing a wonderful community moment with this book. So many people were all reading this at exactly the same time and talking about it, which has been great fun to be a part of. I hope that after the book is released it will continue to bring the book community together.
Those familiar with Cahill’s incredible journey through The Bound and the Broken series by now will know what to expect: huge stakes, characters being pushed to their limits and an absolute powerhouse of an epic fantasy unfurling.
Of Darkness and Light takes the frenetic pace of The Fall and cranks things up even further. Make no mistake, although there’s a lot going on in this book it never becomes confusing or unreadable. Chapters are well-measured and each character gets a fair contribution to this epic saga. The glossary at the back was a handy reference for those few times I needed to reorient myself in terms of which city I was in.
The lore of the series is deep and expanded upon substantially in this instalment. The Knights of Archyon have several dedicated chapters at last – they’re an awesome faction with their fantasy power armor and soul blades mowing through Uraks.
It’s hard to single out particular moments as this review will be as chonky as the book but an honourable mention goes to Calen’s journey, which takes a serious turn in OD&L. He previously has very much been caught up in Aeson Virandr’s rebellion but this book changes things significantly for him. The exploration of the bond between draleid and dragon is powerful. The loss at their separation and influence the dragon has on its draleid feel so deep and genuine. All I can say is I now feel bad for the Empire in the next book …
Cahill isn’t afraid to show that with high stakes come big losses. Characters do not have plot armor. This isn’t to the detriment of the book at all as any deaths are substantial and poignant within the plot. Nothing at all in this book is overdone or gratuitous.
I love this series to bits thus far, but do I have any criticism? Well, I’d love to see Cahill tackle LGBTQ+ characters in a future title. The Bound and the Broken series has always felt like a homage to classic fantasy tropes of times gone by and while I love the nostalgic feel this gives and the characters are memorable, I did find myself at times wishing for more diversity in the cast of characters. I’m not a fan of token characters at all but this feels like a series for everyone and having an even more expansive roster of heroes to reflect that would be the icing on the legendary Cahill cake.
2021 has been my first experience with indie authors and Ryan Cahill has been a gateway to the indie publishing scene. I’m all for it and there’s so much to discover in 2022. For now, this 900+ page tome hacks, slashes and burns relentlessly through every page. For me personally Of Darkness and Light could have been 900 pages longer and it wouldn’t have mattered. It’s that epically good.