We all know I absolutely love fantasy books – there’s something about the imaginative setting, the idea of things being formed and created that aren’t real and reading about a story and setting that’s so much more grand and interesting than our own. Therefore, when a new fantasy series comes along and starts to get some hype, I always have to try and get my hands on a copy of the first book in the series to see if it’s my type of thing. Of Blood and Fire and its subsequent The Bound and the Broken series of books have been receiving said hype and I must say, I can see why.
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The Bound and the Broken series by Cahill has been popping up all over my social media feeds and so I knew I had to delve in. As we speak, there are three full books and two novellas out which make up the series. I’ve already read The Fall, the prequel novella (you can read that review here) and so I knew it was time to jump in and read Of Blood and Fire.
Of Blood and Fire plot – 4/5
In short: Of Blood and Fire follows Calen and some friends all from a small town after their home is ruined. They must seek help as the world around them begins to become a less safe place to be. The book feels very much like an introduction to the start of a much larger story as we read about Calen and his comrades go through their first experiences of the big, bad outer world. They’re introduced to new races, dying races, new cultures and much more as they go on a journey to seek refuge and aid.
Of Blood and Fire may have had one of the most approachable fantasy plots I’ve ever read. I wouldn’t say it broke the mould when it comes to fantasy and there’s a lot in here that some may consider tropes and can be likened to many other fantasy books that have come before it. However, I would absolutely recommend this to those who are just getting into fantasy. Cahill’s writing isn’t overly complicated, he’s not using long, complex sentences and at no point throughout the book did I feel lost by some confusing and pointless explanation of anything. Cahill has a solid idea of where he wanted this book to go at all times and therefore it never feels like he’s adding in fluff text for the sake of it.
The plot itself is fast-paced at times with some great and easily envisioned action scenes but also knows when to slow down to allow for character building and moments of personality to appear. It does however suffer, as I mentioned earlier, from feeling like the start of a larger series rather than a whole book in its own right.
Of Blood and Fire characters – 4.5/5
I often say in my fantasy reviews that the sort of people that write fantasy books often struggle to formulate deep and detailed characters because their drive behind writing the book was to get their imaginative ideas out there. In Of Blood and Fire, Cahill manages to not only create a deep and fantastic world with an exciting plot but he’s also written in some characters with real personalities. He understands that a 500+ fantasy book can’t stand on its own just by throwing lots of lore and cool moments at you but it also needs characters you care about.
Calen for example is actually somebody you vouch for. He has emotions, he has faults and most importantly, he has heart. He knows he isn’t quite ready for what is later expected of him but he also knows that he’s only going to become ready by learning and pretending until he suddenly finds himself where he wanted to be.
Dann, Calen’s closest friend, provides some comic relief at times and there are other characters who join along the way who become father-like figures with huge hearts but honest opinions. Nearly every character is memorable and feels like Cahill brings them in with a real sense of how he wants them to be before introducing them.
The progression of these characters is one thing I’m really looking forward to reading more of in the coming books in the series.
Of Blood and Fire by Ryan Cahill final rating – 4.25/5
Of Blood and Fire is a brand new fantasy series that has shot right to the top of my priorities over the coming year. The characters Cahill has written in, the world he is beginning to build and his incredibly approachable writing style have made this one of the most fun reading experiences I’ve had in the fantasy genre in a very long time. As quickly as possible, I will be picking up the sequel and jumping straight into what could become one of the best fantasy series of the modern generation.