Blood of an Exile – Book Review #Gifted
Blood of an Exile is Brian Naslund’s fantasy debut. Do you need something to fill that A Game of Thrones hole in your life? Then this is the book for you!
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book for review purposes.*
Blood of an Exile – Book Review
Does the description death, murder, backstabbing, political machinations and dragons sound familiar to you? Here we have a brand new series to fill that A Game of Thrones hole with. Blood of an Exile follows an infamous dragonslayer, Silas Bershad, on his journey for redemption. Many years after being stripped of his titles and land, Silas is given the opportunity to return from exile and reclaim what was once his. In order to walk free forever, the King wants Silas to kill a foreign emperor. Silas’ dangerous journey means he must fight his way through criminal underworlds, dragon-infested lands, enemy filled mountains and a strange city guarded by deadly technology. This is definitely an action-packed adventure.
The world building in Blood of an Exile is really well done. It contains many different layers including politics, culture and history. The writing goes beyond the typical ‘and there were dragons’ to them being a fundamental part of Terra’s ecosystem. There is a history of these wonderful creatures and how they have been mistreated for human gain. I really love how the natural world and laws of nature are woven into the fabric of the world and the plot.
Terra is expansive. I love the huge variety of cities and landscapes. Taggarstan is my favourite location. Who doesn’t love a make-shift floating city comprising of barges, gangplanks and ramshackle buildings? No matter where you are in the book, each place is vivid and fresh with a lot of flavour.
This book is not for the faint-hearted. Naslund has created a brutal world with political unrest, rival leaders and dirty underworlds. It is violent and gory at times, contains animal death, murder and many unsavoury characters! You know when you get really angry with a book because of things that happen? This is one of those but in a good way. Caring means that you are invested. My comparison to A Game of Thrones stands well.
The multiple person narrative adds an extra vastness to the story and gives a brilliant insight into the important characters.
Blood of an Exile has many well-written characters. The book begins with Jolan, an apprentice alchemist who is helping to prepare for the arrival of the dragon slayer. Fascinated with the natural world, Jolan is a nice kid but doesn’t always know when to stop talking. That said, his knowledge can come in extremely handy!
Rowan is Silas’ forsaken shield and only real friend. He is an extremely likeable character and definitely the one companion that you can always count on.
Garret is the dark, mysterious stranger. He is a man of many layers, making the chapters from his point of view really interesting. You don’t know his role in the story straight away so it is exciting to find out what he is really up to.
Silas “the Flawless” Bershad is the protagonist of the book. He is an exile whose duty is now as a dragon slayer. Bershad is a much deeper character than he first appears to be. He is complex, struggling with guilt and his inability to trust people. Although, he does have his reasons. He is deeply caring underneath his rough facade and scarred exterior.
Vera is awesome! Papyrian Widows are elite guards but have that ninja assassin feel! Love her.
Last but not least, we have Princess Ashlyn Malgrave. Ashlyn is strong, determined and passionate about dragons. She is not scared to do some ass-kicking herself!
My Thoughts – TLDR
This is the best fantasy debut that I have read since The Unspoken Name. Honestly, I initially thought it was going to be just another dragon slayer book but it was so much more. It has a lot of classic fantasy elements but somehow seems to break the mould slightly. I believe a big part of this is to do with the importance of the natural world in the book as well as having nuanced and multi-layered characters. This is a brilliant book for fans of J.R.R Martin, Andrzej Sapkowski and Joe Abercrombie. I can’t wait to find out what happens in book two!
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