Of Blood and Fire from Ryan Cahill is a great debut, marking the start of The Bound and the Broken series, which proved an addictive read. It is a classic epic fantasy with a modern interpretation. Though this starts off in familiar territory – with 3 young men, as close as brothers, on the eve of their manhood trial, which inevitably goes awry and the village bully gets involved – it is very much worth the read.
The central characters are ones you can care about and root for. Calen, Dann & Rist are our three freshly-proven young men who get caught up in a kerfuffle with the big bad Empire after they befriend the mysterious Erik who is travelling incognito with his brother and father. After coming to the aid of their new friends, our main boys are landed in the shit and it gets worse before getting better.
Along their journey these three make discoveries about themselves and the world around them. They witness a baby dragon hatching – the first in over 400 years – they meet elves, giants, dwarves and are chased across the continent by a Fade hellbent on destroying the aforementioned baby dragon.
Without giving too much more away there are stakes, there is loss, there is wonder and awe in this book. At times there are some words used that feel a bit jarring or out of place where a simpler descriptor could have sufficed but I think Cahill shows a lot of promise. Book 2 in the series, Of Darkness and Light, is already out and the third installation is due later this year (Of War and Ruin) so you won’t have to wait long to continue the story. Cahill is also planning to release a novella set in The Bound and the Broken world prior to Book 3’s release to keep eager fans ticking over.
I would recommend reading the prequel novella, The Fall, as it clues you in to some of the language and magic of this world and gives a good sense of the epic proportions the main series is heading for. Did I mention there are dragons?