This is the third self-published book in new author Ryan Cahill’s epic fantasy world and comes in at a whopping 890 pages but is it actually worth investing your time into? Find out below…
Some information about this book:
- Genre: Fantasy
- Release date: December 31st 2021
- Page count: 890
- Series: The Bound and the Broken (#2)
Heroes will rise. Nations will fall.
Behind the towering walls of Belduar, Calen Bryer and his companions stand in defense of the city and its new king. In over a thousand years, Belduar has never fallen. It has stood as a bastion of hope. But the Lorian empire are at its walls once more, and the Dragonguard are coming.
In the North, with Faenir by her side, Calen’s sister Ella arrives at the port of Antiquar. She holds no fear of the unknown. She will see this through, no matter what – or who – gets in her way.
Meanwhile, at the embassy of the Circle of Magii in Al’Nasla, Rist Havel hones his newfound powers in preparation for the trials. Unbeknownst to Rist, he is being watched, measured, and judged. He was not taken into the Circle by chance. There is greatness in him. But great men can do terrible things.
As Lorian forces land on southern shores and Aeson Virandr’s letters of rebellion find their way to the right hands, only the Knights of Achyron see the true danger. The danger that stirs in the darkness. The coming shadow will not stop. It will consume all in its path. It wants for nothing but blood and fire.
I was lucky enough to be one of those who received a physical arc from Ryan, delivered by our friends at The Broken Binding and despite owning this on Kindle, I was amazed at first at the size of it. The previous story, Of Blood And Fire came in at 541 pages so this adds on another 349 pages which is a LOT of extra story. It looks like a big book and it definitely weighs like one. The problem some large stories produce is that chunks of the book could have been refined or removed completely, serving no purpose other than bulking up the word count. I am pleased to be able to tell you that this is not the case here however.
“Their lives are more important than your legacy. You are their king. Protect them.”
ODAL continues on from where OBAF (review) left us, opening with an brilliant scene but whilst OBAF was a primarily solo point of view (pov) story with Calen the star, he is now joined by many characters, some new, each with their own chapters and storylines competing for your attention. I personally love multi-pov stories because they remind me of the big epic fantasy stories that I have loved and it allows you to see the world from many moving parts. By going from solo to multi pov Ryan has allowed us to experience the world as it grows, showing new characters when their time is right and not being too overwhelmed with information.
“The duty of the strong is to protect the weak,”
Ryan’s character’s continue to develop their own unique personalities and traits, breathing more life into their existence and making them more and more believable with each scene. I had previously liked Dann a lot as a character because I could relate to his animal empathy but during my time with this book I found myself happy to see that I was in a chapter with many characters, each of them grabbing my attention. I really liked the development of characters that we didn’t know much about before such as the Knights of Achyron. I loved how they slowly became a bigger part of the story as the stakes get raised and their existence really brought an epic feel to the storyline.
“May your fires never be extinguished, and your blades never dull,”
As for our main character, Calen Bryer, the connection between himself and his dragon, Valerys, is a big part of his chapters. Their connection is akin to that of an animal companion but also that of two friends relying on one another to survive, so a kind of hybrid if you like. It is explored further in this story and I would say it evolves to a much stronger standing than when you first start the book with Valerys proving much needed assistance at certain parts while Calen learns how to utilise the dragon’s abilities and adapting to its flaws.
“we honour the dead, not by how we mourn their death, but by how we live on despite it.”
Other relationships are tested and grow in this story though with precarious relationships being struck between characters in multiple places throughout, it means that you never know who is going to turn on who, giving you exciting blasts of story to get through where you won’t want to put the book down until you find out what is going to happen next. I particularly liked the relationship between Ella and Farda.
“Words are pretty. But when it comes down to it, men follow actions, not words.”
Farda as a character is amazing and I don’t normally dive into specifics like this on a review but I loved him, as did many others I know, and I can’t wait to see what happens with him in the third book. He is unpredictable but human, murderous but logical and what makes him most scary is that you can see his reasons for the stuff he does and maybe even agree with them at times, despite how ruthless some of his decisions may be.
“Being sorry soothes nothing but your own ego, brother, Be better.”
The dangers in this world are real too with characters dropping dead like flies or at the very least finding themselves being attacked or cut open by a menagerie of creatures, people or magic users. Sometimes you glance over fantasy stories knowing that some people will survive but in this I wasn’t always sure if some people were going to make it out of the chapter and that is exciting and realistic (or as realistic as it can be with magic and dragons!).
“It is true, brother. Books are not a complete history, they are only the history that people chose to record.”
Ryan expands on the world of The Bound & Broken majorly in this book. The first book focused on a few key areas but this one feels like he’s taken us across all of Epheria, showcasing lots of new locations from Dwarven strongholds to dangerous towns, from cities to caves and this really helps secure the pure grand scale of which Ryan is clearly going for. Many times a room or location is described, Ryan specifically gives us the measurements in feet to explain the grand size of the place he is describing.
“Ride, train, eat, sleep, repeat.”
Of course with an epic fantasy story there is magic and what you’ve read in OBAF is built upon here as Calen learns how to use the spark in more creative ways but it’s not just him that develops their magical prowess but I won’t go into that for spoilers. I think that if you like magic then you will definitely like the magic system in this series, you’ll like how it is manifested and the kind of things that can be done with it.
“I have found someone. Someone willing to trade information for coin.” “What kind of information does he have?” “The kind that could topple a kingdom.”
There is definitely a middle book of a trilogy since it has created multiple storylines that are yet to be finalised. As I write this review I can think of at least two characters who didn’t get an ending of their current arcs in this story and so I’m going to have to wait for book three to find out what is going to happen to them. With that being said, the whole story is an improvement on the previous two installments (which were both great) and what is probably most astounding is that Ryan has penned two full novels and a novella in less than 12 months, some of that while working full time shifts!
“Myia nithir til diar, Valerys. I denir viël ar altinua.” My soul to yours, Valerys. In this life and always.
Rating 5/5 – Ryan has created an epic fantasy series that wouldn’t look out of place if it was penned by Brandon Sanderson and I don’t say that lightly. He’s no Sanderson, no, not yet, but for a debut author of less than 12 months, he has created something epic here. He has the characters, the magic, the worldbuilding and my attention. Ryan has breathed fresh air into old tropes, creating a fantastic epic fantasy story with high stakes that deserves your precious time. He has blasted himself into the author stratosphere with this brilliantly imagined second book and The Bound and The Broken should be the next series on your TBR, lest you miss out and find yourself the one person in your group of friends who doesn’t understand what the hype is about.
Thank you for the arc Ryan and good luck with your next book, I can’t wait! (Let’s keep it under 1,000 pages though yea?) 😉