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Review: The Bound and the Broken 02: Of Darkness and Light


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.


Review: Of Darkness and Light by Ryan Cahill

Of Darkness and Light is fresh in my mind, having finished it within the last 48 hours. A quick note first, I received an ARC of ‘Of Darkness and Light’ but this does not affect my review. If you check back on my reviews of both The Fall and Of Blood and Fire, you will see that I did not receive ARCs for those.

I mentioned in my review of ‘Of Blood and Fire’ that Ryan had started putting his own stamp on classical fantasy tropes. His world, Epheria, is both beautiful and chaotic, with much going on. Calen is again the main POV, however, as this tale grows and we get deeper into Ryan’s world, the number and length of POVs from other characters grows—this is also something allowed by the epic size of this book, around 900 pages!

The story arcs of both Rist and Ella are slower paced than the events surrounding Calen (hectic) or the goings-on in the Dwarven cities (middling), from which we view the world through the eyes of both Dann and Dahlen. These POVs help to ebb and flow the pace of the tale Ryan is spinning, something he does very well.

The Calen sections remind me of The Fall, Ryan’s novella which is book 0.5 in the series. His story arc is fast-paced, gritty, and bloody. It’s full of action, death, sorrow, camaraderie, and tough decisions. All the while, his bond with Valerys strengthens, as does his prowess with The Spark. It’s also a pleasure to see Valerys’s growth from a tiny precious little thing in Of Blood and Fire to a 30-foot flying fire-breathing Urak killing machine… and we know he’ll grow more. Valerys also possesses the petulance of a young teen, which is endearing, and a part of his growth.

Speaking of animals, if Valerys is okay with me calling him that, I also love Faenir, the wolfpine accompanying Ella on her journey. Their bond is also strong, and towards the end of the book, we find out something very interesting about Ella which indicates she has a massive part to play in upcoming events. While mentioning Ella, it is also worth mentioning that Ryan introduces several strong female characters in Of Darkness and Light, which adds to the strength of this book. Oh, and there is a whole group of women that are Wyvern riders. How cool?

“The sun will set, and it will rise again, and it will do so the next day and the next. The gods are in charge of such things, but it is by our own will that we pick ourselves up when we fall.”

Rist is another character, who like Ella, is going to have a big part to play and it’ll be interesting to see where his loyalties lie in future books. I do wonder whether he will be manipulated… he has a romantic interest who is interesting but seems potentially dangerous and a possible ‘plant’.

The politics of Epheria and the scope of the rebellion is something that grows throughout the book. Ryan lays down a lot of groundwork. I’m starting to believe it’s possible that, even with one young dragon against the power of blood magic and multiple fully grown dragons that are centuries old, the rebellion can succeed. Some key politics at play are encountered in Dahlen’s story arc and the Dwarven cities, which are poised for a frantic breakout in book three, but also in a couple of POVs I haven’t mentioned: Dayne and the Knights of Archyon.

I’ll mention these only briefly. Dayne returns to the city where he grew up, where his family is one of importance—his mother and father led the last rebellion—to discover that the seeds of rebellion are already well-sewn. As for the Knights of Archyon, they are poised for a political change in the way they interact with the outside world.

Of Darkness and Light, like its predecessor, is an excellent read. It takes what is excellent from both The Fall and Of Blood and Fire and smashes them together into a truly epic adventure.

“I will stand by your side until my lungs take their last breath, and my heart ceases to beat. In darkness, and in light, by blade and by blood, I am yours. Let me be your sword.”


Rating: 4.5 out of 5.