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on 22 August 2014
The first book in the series was fantastic, and I was expecting something equally good from this book. But, this one was disappointment. It was not terrible, it was quite good in parts, but not in the same league as book 1. Hoping for much more from book 3.
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on 4 July 2014
I normally don't write poor reviews because I know how much hard work goes into writing a novel; however, this is for Anthony Ryan's benefit.

Please, don't let your editors ruin your next book! I read the first book and declared it one of my recent favourites, bookmarking the date for the release of Tower Lord. What followed was a book with little direction, a pointless inclusions and a main character that was given absolutely no page time.

I believe you can bounce back and write another great novel, as long as you are left to your own devices! We don't want multiple perspectives just because the editors want to appeal to the larger audience. We are the audience that matters: the audience that lives and breathes fantasy, the audience that I suspect you yourself are part of, the audience that will read your books for as long as we live - as long as they are not diluted by commercialisation. Appeal to us. Let the rabble return to twilight movies.
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on 9 July 2014
Echoing a few previous reviewers complaints really. The decision to split into multiple POVs is not a unique one, but you sure as hell have to care about all of the characters involved for it to work. Instead I spent most of my time waiting for Vaelin to come back and regretting we spent so little time with him.

The quality of prose is no worse, but this stil qualifies as a disappoinment on a number of levels. The previous book I couldn't read fast enough, this one's been much more of a slog.

Adding extra layers and adding pointless filler are two different things. Go read the later George RR Martin if you need proof of that.
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on 9 July 2014
Blood song was the best new book i had read in a long time, the author an obvious talent. I even took the (for me) unheard of step of pre-ordering this one. Unfortunately this book is not in the same league, you get the feeling that the editors have applied the "how to make money out of fantasy" handbook as this almost feels as if it's been written by someone else. The new use of a multi perspective story line involves some fairly 2 dimensional characters, and so many that i kept flicking back through the book to check who i was reading about. The clarity and strength, depth of character and emotion present in book 1 has been lost and the whole book ends up feeling like a filler.. The blatant "buy book 3 to find out what happens next" ending is irritating as i didn't expect it from this author. To be honest another author I may have given 3 stars but the first book was so much better than this you just know this could have been as well. I'll probably get the next one but i won't be in a rush to and will read the reviews first.
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on 1 August 2016
(Minor spoilers)

One of the main reasons I enjoyed Blood Song was the format. Following a fantastic character like Vaelin over a long period of was an enjoyable and immersive experience. Reading about his time in the Order with his brothers was an absolute pleasure.

Ryan has switched the format here. There are now four main point of view characters and the book is set over a smaller space of time. Along with Vaelin we also follow Frentis, Lyrna (who were in book one) and a new character Reva. The pattern consists of individual chapters for each in a set sequence. Each character is given around 25% of the page count.

The book starts off strongly, all four are on different journeys and different places in the world. It's enjoyable reading about different parts of the world. We see the Volarian empire here (with Frentis), learn more about the Lonak people (with Lyrna), the Great Northern forest (with Vaelin) and Cumbrael (with the new character Reva and also learn more about the world Father religion which I found very interesting). The world feels diverse and big which is always a plus, sometimes fantasy books feel a little parochial but not here.

I was sad to leave each character behind at the end of each chapter so it shows how engaging they all were.

Sadly, all the intrigue and discovery comes to a grinding halt about half way through. After this we're subjected to all four simply travelling and battling against their respective enemies for what feels like eternity. All four characters -whilst likeable- are very similar and speak with a similar voice so diminishing returns sets in very quickly. Each main protagonist has a micro cast of disposable secondary characters revolving around them to serve the plot. They have no depth and it becomes difficult to remember who they are. The same dull battles are regurgitated to swell the page count.

The worst problem is the enemy. The Volarain's are your typical cliched bad guys; mindlessly evil, devoid of idiosyncrasies or personality allowing the the 'good guys' to absolutely slaughter them without any moral consequences or remorse. They're nothing more than cannon fodder to the supposed defenders. They're essentially able to invade through their sheer strength of numbers.

Everything's so relentlessly dour and grim, there's not a patch of light or humour throughout.

I've seen plenty of series unravel as the books progress but to see it happen in the middle of book two was a shock.

One glimmer of hope was the fact that at least by the end the plots converged and perhaps book three will follow a lighter, deeper and more interesting path.

A disappointing 6/10.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 20 July 2014
It is always difficult to write the second volume of a trilogy. Some might say that it is more difficult that writing the first or the third title. This is because a sense of "déjà vu" can creep in quite easily, while the author had also to refrain from "telling too much" and packing in too much action and events since he needs to ensure that volume three comes out as a fitting climax. The author has not quite managed to avoid these two effects. Both this sense of "déjà vu" and this impression that the book is a bit of a filler are present at times in "Tower Lord", and this is perhaps the reason why a number of reviewers - me included - may have been a bit less enthusiastic than with the first volume.

The story picks up where it was left, straight after the end of the first volume, so it is rather recommended to start with this one rather than reading "Tower Lord" first. As others have mentioned, some inspiration has been drawn from Game of Thrones, although not too much and Anthony Ryan is not the only one to have done this.

Besides, the alternative world in which this story is set is sufficiently different and original to be attractive in its own right. The Unified Realms made me think of an enlarged medieval Ireland, including religious and military orders and raked by heresy. It has been conquered long ago by a race that came from overseas. Descendants of the original populations, including one that looks like Red Indians and another made up of fearless riders and horse archers, still inhabit some of its forests and the north of the continent. The Alpirian Empire was a kind of Byzantine Empire. The Volarian Empire puzzled me a bit and seems to be inspired by Carthage and by various Muslim states of the Middle Ages that essentially relied on slave soldiers (such as Ghulams and Mamluks).

Then there is the magic and the fantasy bits. There are many of these and there are never completely explained. One are the "Gifts" - or the afflictions depending upon your point of view - that a number of people have, including Vaelin Al Sorna, the book's main hero. There come in various forms although I will not elaborate any further to avoid spoilers. Suffice is to say that the origin of their powers is unknown and using them comes at a heavy price. There are also some people in this world which are somewhat immortal, or rather they seem to benefit from extended lives by occupying the bodies of others and they seem to have been able to achieve this with the help of a mysterious and malevolent "Ally" whose designs and objectives are clearly evil but largely mysterious.

The set of characters are mostly well drawn, even if perhaps not entirely original. Vaelin Al Sorna is his usual self (for those who have read the first volume) and a peerless warrior and general (for those that have not). You therefore know from almost the very beginning of the book that he is going to save the sum of things, so that there is little suspense on this front. As another review mentioned, the character of Lyrna is rather interesting even if the theme of developing her leadership skills through personal suffering is not exactly original. Vernier, the Court Historian, is still as excellent and he also becomes someone different and more than just the obsequious, snobbish and cowardly courtier. There are also many other characters that I will not mention here and let you discover, including some that you have already met in the first volume such as Vaelin's former Brothers.

Then there is the plot which is quite good and which is centred on a rather horrific invasion of the Unified Realms. Some of the scenes, such as the attack on the Royal family in Varinshold, are simply horrific and the siege of Alltor is also rather good and well told. The wave of murders across continents that is intended to prepare for the master plan that leads to world domination are at times a bit far-fetched, but the concept lying behind him - eliminating all alternative futures that could compromise the success of the enterprise - is rather interesting even if not entirely original.

There is still plenty to write about this book but by now you get the main idea: although it may not be quite as good as the first volume, it is still a rather glorious piece of epic fantasy. I found it very entertaining, and well worth reading. Four stars after some hesitations.
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on 22 August 2014
I had very high expectations for this after reading blood song, I did enjoy it but there were too many parts to it I just felt weren't even needed, I felt it went too far into lyrna also I mean reeeeeaallyy? That shark? You'll know what I mean when you read it, I won't give any spoilers . This is still a good read I just hope the next book runs more along the lines of the first, focusing more on vaelin, and the deeper story line of the song.
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on 27 May 2016
Great second book. Many follow up/second novels fall short but this is excellent.

We continue to enjoy life with Al Sorna; Frentis has a tough time being controlled by a heartless woman/witch hell bent on murdering half the known world to prevent a foretold future. Will he escape ...?

Princess Lerner (forgive spellings, I listened to the audio version) comes to the fore and has a tough time with pirates and is becoming a strong female character.

We have battles, seiges, more magic than the first and less of the Order. It's a refreshing change and quite different from the slow build-up of the first novel.

A great read. Classic and well written epic fantasy.
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on 4 July 2014
I don't know why he's suddenly decided that he needs to split the book into multiple view-points. Anthony Ryan's writing style really matches a deliberate, building pace, not this jumping about following many different characters.

Verniers' accounts are wonderfully balanced counterpoints to the main story, just as they were in Blood Song, but I really didn't care to see the main account broken up so much. He could have focused on a single character and built a much stronger story.

I also found the motivations of Vaelin hard to judge in this one, the book feels unfocused - Vaelin wants to find Frentis, and lots of stuff happens to fill out the story, but none of it really feels necessary. This feels like filler, and although we encounter quite a bit of exposition to the major story arc for the series, this one felt like a book that I guessing could be skipped without loosing much (assuming Anthony Ryan returns to form for the next book).

Anthony Ryan has an epic page turning writing style that is a joy to read, but this book is not strong compared to Blood Song.
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on 15 August 2016
Boring. The 1st book was just about Vaelin. This one is dragged out money spin off. There's not much left to cover for Vaelin so old characters are explored and new characters added just to make up the chapters. But the other characters are boring. You find to yourself skipping chapters entirely just to read the ones about Vaelin.
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