I read this book a few years ago (before I started participating in Cannonball Read). The second book was about to come out, so I decided to re-read the first one, since I didn’t have a detailed review. Reading this book was like putting on a comfortable pair of pants. The writing is beautiful, the story is engaging and original. If you are a fan of Patrick Rothfuss or Peter V Brett, then I’d bet you will love this series as well. I give this book 5 stars.
Here’s a breakdown…
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What is this book about?
This is the story of Vaelin Al Sorna, son of the Battle Lord, who was given over to the Sixth Order. There are 10 other boys in his class, but only 5 make it through training: Vaelin, Barkus (has special abilities to heat metal without a fire), Caenis Nysa, Dentos and Nortah (son of the first Minister, who gets hung at the kings orders). Along the way they also pick up Frentis, a young thief in the city who begs to for Vaelin to vouch for him so he can join the Order.
After killing an innocent man at his final test, Vaelin makes a deal with King Janus, to do as he commands, for the release of the mans wife. From here, Vaelin is assigned to many missions to ‘protect the realm’. He ends up in a battle for three port cities of the Empire. The Empire wins their cities back, while Vaelin is captured and jailed for five years. He is released to fight The Shield, the champion of Meldenean (Vaelin’s dad had burned the city when he was battle lord, and the people wanted revenge). Vaelin wins (but does not kill The Shield) and is freed.
In this world, there are people who are gifted with special powers, Vaelin has a ‘blood song’ which gives him an extra instinct, he fights better, he knows when people are lying, he is led in the right direction. Other people have uncanny ability with metal (like Barkus) or to see the future, or to control weather, etc. In fact, there is an entire Seventh Order that specializes in The Dark, but because it is so feared, they aren’t well known and are scattered.
There is a lot of theories on what happens to your soul when you die, Vaelin’s Faith doesn’t believe in any gods, but they do believe when you die your soul goes on to be with other Departed souls. There is some ‘bad’ soul that can take over bodies near death. In this book it turns out Barkus had died in one of the order tests as a boy, and the evil spirit (for lack of a better term) had taken over his body.
1- ??;2- The Order of Contemplation and Enlightenment; 3- Scribes; 4-??; 5- The Order of the Body. The Order of Healing; 6- The Warriors; 7- The Order of the Dark
What did I think about this book?
Simply put, I loved it. It is one of those books that you think about when you aren’t reading it- and you pick it up at every free moment.
The characters are fantastic. Vaelin is the narrator of this story, and he struggles with the power his blood song gives him and would prefer a quiet life with Sister Sherin, but is pulled into battles by circumstance.
“I can kill without hesitating. I was meant to be a warrior.” “Vaelin had never truly wanted to kill before, never felt a real bloodlust. But now it raged in him, a song of fury blinding his reason.”
The writing is beautiful, the pace is amazing, and the characters are developed and the plot is interesting.
“It’s always a mistake to underestimate a fat man in a fight.”
One of my favorites.