Imagine an amalgam of a cleaned up Logan Nine Fingers, a straight Ringil Eskiath and Jorg Ankrath with morals. Vaelin Al Sorna is an extraordinary character: inspiring, charismatic, deliciously laconic, delightfully enigmatic and just... well... all over competent. There's a dab of Left Hand of God in there, too. For all those comparisons, this is a unique, enthralling fantasy. It's truly epic.
A quick synopsis: a warlord's son is handed over to a religious order for training as a warrior. Vaelin comes to realise it's for his own protection and forges deep bonds with his brothers. It soon becomes clear that there are forces at play - an unknown order, leeching evil and the ambition of ruthless people. There are many threads winding through the story - you'll be jumping up and down for the release of book 2.
The mystique of the Brotherhood is beautifully depicted. The brothers' training is fascinating and the resulting super warriors are captivating. The characters are complex, compelling people and Ryan handles relationships with a sure but delicate hand.
Everything about this book is new - new world, new magic, new characters. The hero is a disenchanted war hero - and gay. This is significant because homosexuality is illegal in his world.You'll know all this having read The Steel Remains.
Ringil Eskiath is such a strange character. Charismatic but too confrontational and savagely judgmental, a sublime warrior but without a creed that others can understand. Only he would give himself the task of destroying the slave trade and address the supreme Radiant Emperor as the 'Shiny' Emperor.
His support cast is magnificent: vibrant Lady kir-Archeth Indamaninarmal (say that name with a couple of beers under your belt) - also gay and the sole remaining member of her race that left this world (no clear reason why, yet) and loyal Egar Dragonbane. Detailed characters with depth and scope. These are not one dimensional people who are too good to be true. In fact, even the minor characters are rich and complex and deeply flawed.
Simon Vance is an excellent narrator - experienced and unflappable.
A lovable rogue, a beautiful goddess of a super woman, a dystopian future where religion has been outlawed (well, in 'north america', anyway).
And along comes some pesky gods to bugger it all up.
The rogue is forced to face demons, the goddess discovers her mortality, while all the while gods are trying to immortalise them both.
It's fast paced and you'll quickly become invested in the characters and the story. I'm gutted that it's a loonnnggg wait till book 2.
Absolutely loved this story!