A thrilling page turner of a novella that succeeds in giving you dragons, betrayals, world building and really interesting characters within 4 POV chapters.
Wow, this book is bloody brilliant!
I’d bought Ryan Cahill’s debut, Of Blood and Fire and on signing up to his newsletter, received a free ebook of his prequel novella The Fall, which I decided to read first. (You can do the same by simply signing up to the newsletter yourself here!)
This has me really excited to start Of Blood and Fire – and made me realise that if I enjoy it as much as The Fall, I’ll end up buying the physical copy at some point too!
The Fall is split into 4 POV chapters, all centred on the fall of the city of Ilnaen and I thoroughly enjoyed every one of them. We are dropped straight into the action which helps to create that visceral, frantic panic of a city under attack – especially when the conflicts in that city feature battle mages, Uraks, dark magic and dragons.
For a novella especially, I’m lost for words at how many cool fantasy elements Cahill has been able to cram into this book, without it feeling cluttered or imbalanced in any way.
There is great world building, which gives you an appreciation for and understanding of the Order and the wider world that is undoubtedly developed further in Of Blood and Fire.
You can almost empathise with the main antagonist. In many ways you actually can empathise, in fact. You can certainly root for the characters in the other POV chapters, when you barely know them. It’s rare for me to read a book and instantly take a liking to all of the characters introduced, moral or immoral (and in between).
Something else I like is that the author isn’t afraid to embrace the fantasy tropes he obviously appreciates. The Fall has its fair share of classic fantasy elements whilst also giving us Cahill’s fresh and creative ideas that I’m excited to see expanded upon.
It all flows so well, largely due to the author’s prose – it’s a real page turner you just forget you’re even physically reading and immerse yourself in the events on the page. Dragonbound, which was probably my favourite of the 4 chapters showcases the relationship between rider and dragon and how high the stakes are for a Draleid – losing your dragon feels like losing your soulmate. Even though there are dragons fighting for both sides of the conflict featured in the book, I appreciate the reverence for the creatures. I know dragons aren’t real but I’m always frustrated when I read of dragons being monsters to eliminate, rather than majestic and beautiful beasts whose demise feels tragic no matter the reason.
A scene involving a dragon egg hatchery was particularly soul destroying!
I’m someone who came to fantasy from a love of history, so magic isn’t always something I focus on or care about. I really enjoyed the magic system here though which builds on elemental magic to manipulate the surroundings of the magic user. When magic is used, it works really well and adds an extra layer to the action.
The Fall has everything a fantasy reader could ask for, in a (dragon) bite sized package. A true page turner that immerses you in the action and instantly endears you to its characters.
I’ve read some great ones, but this book is the best novella I’ve read! Onto Of Blood and Fire…
The Order have watched over the continent of Epheria for thousands of years. But there are those who believe The Order has had its day. That it is corrupt, indulgent, and deceitful – that it is ready to fall.
The City of Ilnaen is on fire.
Dragons fill the skies.
Traitors fill the streets.
The Fall is a prequel novella that takes place four hundred years before the events in Of Blood and Fire – book one in The Bound and The Broken.