Tower Lord by Anthony Ryan
Series: Raven's Shadow #2
Also by this author: Blood Song
Published by Ace on July 1st, 2014
Genres: Epic, Fantasy
Also in this series: Blood Song
In Blood Song, Anthony Ryan introduced readers to “a fascinating world of conflicting religions and the wars fought in the name of those faiths” (Library Journal). Now Ryan’s epic tale continues as Vaelin Al Sorna discovers that there is no escape from the call of destiny... “The blood-song rose with an unexpected tune, a warm hum mingling recognition with an impression of safety. He had a sense it was welcoming him home.” Vaelin Al Sorna, warrior of the Sixth Order, called Darkblade, called Hope Killer. The greatest warrior of his day, and witness to the greatest defeat of his nation: King Janus’s vision of a Greater Unified Realm drowned in the blood of brave men fighting for a cause Vaelin alone knows was forged from a lie. Sick at heart, he comes home, determined to kill no more. Named Tower Lord of the Northern Reaches by King Janus’s grateful heir, he can perhaps find peace in a colder, more remote land far from the intrigues of a troubled Realm. But those gifted with the blood-song are never destined to live a quiet life. Many died in King Janus’s wars, but many survived, and Vaelin is a target, not just for those seeking revenge but for those who know what he can do. The Faith has been sundered, and many have no doubt who their leader should be. The new King is weak, but his sister is strong. The blood-song is powerful, rich in warning and guidance in times of trouble, but is only a fraction of the power available to others who understand more of its mysteries. Something moves against the Realm, something that commands mighty forces, and Vaelin will find to his great regret that when faced with annihilation, even the most reluctant hand must eventually draw a sword.
So, I would imagine the big question for people is going to be: Is this book as good as Blood Song? Blood Song was one of my top reads last year, and definitely one of the most addictive reads (you can read my gushing review). Problem is, this book is different enough, I am having a hard time comparing them. And honestly, I don’t know that I much feel I need to. Here it is, I’ll say it early for anyone with a short attention span: this is great book in its own right. For me, it didn’t have quite the same addictive quality, the kind that keeps me reading way too late at night, and compels me to pick right back up early in the morning, that I had with Blood Song, but honestly, I read maybe two books a year that achieve that. Not to say I don’t stay up too late reading with many others (this one included), it’s just not quite as furtive of a need. And I don’t know if I have ever had it happen with a book that has multiple POVs.
That’s right. If you haven’t already heard, the book is not centered on Vaelin. He’s still a central figure in the overall story arc, but every page in the book is not devoted to solely his perspective and plights. Tower Lord is broken into five parts, each of with starts with a Verniers entry, which are all great fun. I’m honestly not sure if I appreciated Verniers as much in the Blood Song as I should have and as I did in this one. Perhaps because I was so anxious to continuously read about Vaelin, and the journal entries were the only intermissions I had from that. But this time, I definitely fully appreciated Verniers’ wry wit.
In addition to Vaelin, we get POV chapters from 2 familiar characters from Blood Song: Frentis and Lyrna. And then we also get a new character with a POV, Reva. The four POVs, paired with Vernier’s journal entries, give the reader a great opportunity to see a much clearer picture of the overall story. And understand the movement of battle from all fronts in addition to the different people and cultures involved. I think it also leant a stronger air of anticipation as you experience the trials of all involved across the land. I was also quite appreciative of the maps in Tower Lord. I don’t too often find myself referencing maps, but in this one, with the story so spread out, so many characters on the move, I often would flip to them for reference.
Reva was an interesting addition. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure I was going to like her in the beginning. I started having flashbacks of Renna from The Daylight War and was quite concerned Reva’s character might go in that direction (for those not familiar, I found Renna to be grating and a distraction). I am quite happy to say it did not. Not at all. I am actually quite a fan of Reva and really liked seeing her character growth through the book. She was faced with loyalty issues that challenged her to reevaluate her Faith as it had been taught to her versus how she believes Faith should be. In addition to that, she also becomes critical to the story in ways I’d rather you read for yourself to find out.
I remember a while back, some fellow fantasy fans, either on twitter or a forum, using the term ‘siege porn’ (probably in regard to The Red Knight by Miles Cameron). Seven hells, if you are looking for an incredible, down and dirty, gritty ‘siege porn’ fix, then look no further. Some truly great siege action in this one!
My only real disappointment in the book is that at the end of Blood Song, I was quite curious about Caenis, and am sad to say he is not really featured in Tower Lord. However, I am consoled by the fact that it seems he will be again (he is mentioned. We know he’s out there still). I would love to have Caenis POVs in future books, but since I still really enjoyed this one, I can’t really complain either. It just gives me something to look forward to.
If you enjoyed Blood Song, by all means, you have to read this. I think the strengths of this book are different than Blood Song, but it works so well. Blood Song was the coming of age story of Vaelin and setup for the grander story. This book gives you a much clearer picture of the impressive scale of the conflict, introduces you to more characters. And it has siege porn! And prepare yourself. The first thing you will want to do you finish reading this, is look to find out when the next book is going to be released! Absolutely brilliant ending that leaves you both satisfied and on the edge of your seat for what happens next. Loved it.
Many thank to Ace for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review