ARC Review: Tower Lord by Anthony Ryan (+ PICTURES of me FANGIRLING)

18138189Genre: Adult, Epic Fantasy, Military
Release Date: July 1, 2014
Publisher: Ace
Number of Pages: 624
Source: ARC from author (THANK YOU!)
Check out on GOODREADS sdadsad

Vaelin Al Sorna, warrior of the Sixth Order, called Darkblade, called Hope Killer. The greatest warrior of his day, and witness to the greatest defeat of his nation: King Janus’s vision of a Greater Unified Realm drowned in the blood of brave men fighting for a cause Vaelin alone knows was forged from a lie. Sick at heart, he comes home, determined to kill no more. 

Named Tower Lord of the Northern Reaches by King Janus’s grateful heir, he can perhaps find peace in a colder, more remote land far from the intrigues of a troubled Realm. But those gifted with the blood-song are never destined to live a quiet life. Many died in King Janus’s wars, but many survived, and Vaelin is a target, not just for those seeking revenge but for those who know what he can do. 

The Faith has been sundered, and many have no doubt who their leader should be. The new King is weak, but his sister is strong. The blood-song is powerful, rich in warning and guidance in times of trouble, but is only a fraction of the power available to others who understand more of its mysteries. Something moves against the Realm, something that commands mighty forces, and Vaelin will find to his great regret that when faced with annihilation, even the most reluctant hand must eventually draw a sword.

Let me tell you a story.

Around December 2012, a good friend of mine, Kureha, approached me to say that there was this book on Amazon that was getting huge attention. She told me I should check it out especially since I was starting to read more epic fantasy. Yup, you guessed it: that book was Blood Song by Anthony Ryan. I got myself a copy and read it in two sittings, and was in a huge hangover for days after that. It was one of the best epic fantasies I’ve ever read, and very few have come close to it. That’s why I was ecstatic when he finally found publishers willing to print his book and spread it far and wide. I’ve never been so happy for an author before. Anthony is very talented; I love his storytelling skills, and I love the characters he creates. It’s only fitting for him to be given the chance to share his story with more people from other countries and cultures, who, I hope, will also relate to Vaelin al Sorna.

After that, all I had left was the waiting game. I waited TWO YEARS to read the second installment.

Alas, the wait is over…


Tower Lord and I

I’m sorry, I couldn’t help it. I just HAD to brag.

Look! I even got a sweet message!

Tower Lord signed

“Propaganda”?! Man, I’m so touched. That’s legit one of the best names to call my fangirling. Mehehehe.

The author has been such a cool guy. He sent me this ARC even though he didn’t have to (I… I may have nudged him a little~), but in any case, I read it as soon as I got it and you wanna know what I think?


One thing to look forward to here in Tower Lord is the introduction of POVs of new (and old!) characters, something that I welcomed warmly. Blood Song could be likened to a chronicle of Vaelin al Sorna, depicting events at different intervals of his life when he was in the Sixth Order, serving as more of a laying of the foundation and backstory of what will happen in the second installment. If you’re expecting Tower Lord to be the same way, you’ll be disappointed, as it’s more fast-paced (with a slow beginning), especially with a lot of POVs showing different angles of the story, but somehow I thought they were all fitting. I loved the new perspectives. I mean, yes, I missed Vaelin, but it was awesome getting to know other vital characters intimately too, and not just from a distance.

Obviously, we get Vaelin’s POV. I missed him a lot and it was so nice getting reacquainted with him again. It was like meeting an old friend for the first time in a long while and seeing how much he has changed. And Vaelin did change. The events at the end of Blood Song has made him think and see things differently, and we see a different side of him here. Nevertheless, I still loved him, and I thought he was easier to relate to in this installment. He struggles with a lot of things, one of them being his reputation as a Darkblade and how it molded other people’s expectations of him. It was also really nice seeing him ponder about the boundaries of morality, about what must be done and what could have been done, while also maintaining this aura of leadership that attracts people to him. Suffice to say, he remains as my favorite character.

We also see things happen in Frentis’ POV, and man, his situation really made me sad. Out of all the characters, you can see that he’s the one who changed so much. In Blood Song, I pictured him as this merry guy who’s eager to lighten the mood, but because of certain circumstances, he turned quite dark, and I have nothing but sympathy for him. While reading this book, all I ever wanted to do was pat him on the back and whisper things will be okay(although to be honest, with how things went for him for the first half of the book, even I doubted). Aside from Vaelin, I think Frentis will be a favorite among the readers just from the experiences he went through and the steps he took to overcome them. By the end of the book, I just wanted him and Vaelin to team up already!

The last two POVs were from two females – Reva and Princess Lyrna. I also loved these two to bits. They were both strong ladies who were able to overcome various trials and tribulations, situations I don’t think I would have survived myself. I loved how Anthony Ryan gave them so much personality and how he made them so consistent throughout. Like Reva is this person who has been brainwashed and abused as a child, raised to hate Vaelin, and you can really see the internal conflict happening within her as she experiences kindness from him. Princess Lyrna, on the other hand, finds herself in the hands of her enemy, and she becomes really bad-ass later on, which I appreciated. I loved seeing her grow out of her shell, to be thrown in a shitty situation and come out of it like a real queen.

All in all, I loved how polished each of them were. I loved how they never felt like filler, and how they contributed so much to the storyline – not just the different sides of their personalities but also the different angles of their common enemy, as each of them had to fight them in their own ways.

Of course, while there were many awesome stuff, there were also really… sad ones as well, especially when it came to the secondary characters. I mean, we got to meet a lot of the old ones, and many of them will come to Vaelin’s aid especially with the impending war, but just like our own historical wars in the real world, not everyone survives to tell the tale, and this book really devastated me in that aspect. But, at the same time, I welcomed it, too. I loved how realistic war was portrayed here. It’s shitty, it’s awful, and not everyone is immortal, despite how much we want them to be. I applaud Anthony Ryan for recognizing how horrific wars can be, and how everyone is vulnerable and at risk, and getting out there meant putting your life on the line because so much is at stake.


Overall, this book was awesomesauce. I wish I could say more, but I don’t really want to risk spoiling you guys, because books like this are meant to be read, enjoyed, and appreciated to the fullest. But if there’s one thing I can assure you, it’s that this book was an awesome ride from the start to the very end. You will get to see new and old characters, and you will be able to appreciate them more because of the switching POVS (which were nicely done, I promise). Anthony Ryan really puts the “epic” in “epic fantasy” because this was epic as epic could be.

And now, the wait begins once more for book three…

Rating Report
Overall: 4.8
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A 21 years old Filipina who loves books, games, languages, and most especially, food. Secretly wishes to be an astronaut so she can explore the stars. Has a love-hate relationship with Philippine politics. To get in her good graces, offer her Foie Gras, Or shrimp. Or a JRPG. A YA sci-fi book works, too. You can follow her on twitter here: @kawaiileena


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    • FayeFaye says

      Haha, I made you curious huh? Well that should give you more reason to check this out then, and I really urge you to do so. So much fun to see here, and so much depth as well.

  1. says

    I really should read more epic fantasy! I feel like I’m missing out on great books out there! I will definitely check out Book 1 now, maybe I’ll get the audiobook version too, I like listening to epic fantasy more, I think it’s because I get bothered with the idea that I’m pronouncing the names wrong. I’m all for strong females and realistic portrayal of war, so I’m checking audible as we speak! Awesome review Faye! And you look so pretty in your photo :)
    Amir recently posted…Review: Picture Perfect by Elisabeth GraceMy Profile

    • FayeFaye says

      YES. And you really should finish Way of Kings! You have both the audio and the book already, so what’s taking you so long? Haha! Many of the great books I’ve read have been epic fantasy. There’s Brandonon Sanderson, Joe Abercombie, Michael Sullivan, and GASP! Anthony Ryan ;) Haha AND THANK YOU AMIR. I actually felt shy about posting that but NO MATTER. SHALL BRAG! HAHA

    • FayeFaye says

      Aw, that’s a shame, Janina! There are so many gems out there! Definitely take the time to read them in the future~ Who knows, you may meet your next favorite author!

    • FayeFaye says

      Oh, yes, definitely one of the most amazing feeligns in the world! I’m happy to know I prompted you to check it out, Joy. Hope you get to read it, and soon!

  2. says

    Ooooh! Me likey this cover!!!! Oh, that’s the cutest! Yay that you got this ARC :) I don’t mind multiple POVs in fantasy, tbh. They make the story more intriguing. In other genres though? NO more than 2-3. That’s my limit. Change can be good. I’m glad you enjoyed Vaelin’s POV so much :) Ooh! So intrigued by Frentis ;) “to be thrown in a shitty situation and come out of it like a real queen.” Hahaha! That reminds me of Rose Calloway from the Addicted books and Kiss the Sky by Krista and Becca Ritchie. I definitely want to meet this bad-a Princess ;) LOL! I hope the next book will come soon :D So happy you enjoyed this, lovely!

    Siiri @ Little Pieces of Imagination

    • FayeFaye says

      Yay, I’m glad you liked the cover, Siiri. I loved the cover too, especially with the gritty and edgy vibe. I don’t mind them too, although the very reason I loved the first book was the single point of view, but hey, it worked here too to give us a more broader look of the story.

    • FayeFaye says

      Yes, it’s always a good thing when a book doesn’t suffer from the second book syndome. The change of POVs may throw some fans off, so I hope they appreciate it as much as I did!

    • FayeFaye says

      Haha, hey now, I’m not that hard to please, Jeann! ;) In any case, yes, the sequel was awesome and I loved it to bits. Thank you so much and I hope you try it in the future~

  3. laila bc says

    Wow very high praises from u Faye which I find very rare in many of ur reviews. Again I’ve only read a few of this genre but I might check this one out too. Happy for ur specially signed ARC :) and that it lived up to ur expectations.

    • FayeFaye says

      Aw, one more! Haha. You’re the second person in this review to tell me that I rarely give such high praise XD I may rant all the time, but it’s truly not that hard to make me happy!

  4. says

    Faye I am so glad to see that you thoroughly enjoyed this book. I’m not the most patient of readers, so can understand how hard it must have been to wait two years for this book. But I thrilled that the wait was totally worth it. The world and characters created by Ryan sounds absolutely amazing. I think I will have to try book one soon! Gorgeous review!
    Jasprit recently posted…Review: Royally Lost by Angie StantonMy Profile

    • FayeFaye says

      Yes, the two-year wait was certainly a hard journey, but alas, I survived and look where it got me! A pretty signed ARC which I will surely show off to my friends every chance I get. Haha.

  5. says

    Well, your review has made me really want to check out both the first book and this one! Epic fantasy is something I need to be in the right mood for, but when it’s done really well it’s some of the books I enjoy the most, flying through the hundreds of pages as if there’s no tomorrow!
    Thank you for sharing this new and not very well known series with us, Faye! I hope you’ll get book three as soon as humanly possible!
    Great review!
    Pili recently posted…Mark This Book Monday: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han!!My Profile

  6. says

    I so feel your pain on having to wait 2 years in between books Faye! I’ll have waited that long and then some for the next book in Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series, but as painful as the wait has been, I know she’ll make it worth it. Glad to see that was the case for you as well with this book! I haven’t read much epic fantasy (I’ve read a lot of YA fantasy and love it), so I’m making a note of this author. Must go check out book one!
    Jenny @ Supernatural Snark recently posted…Review: On the FenceMy Profile

  7. says

    I don’t read epic fantasy novels, but your enthusiasm for this series is definitely making me want to give this series a shot, Faye.
    It sounds like it’s super complex and very well written with a cast of great characters. That was so sweet of the author to send you an ARC. Waiting 2 years for a book would have killed me! Haha!
    Wonderful review, Faye! I love how much you loved this series. :)
    Nick @ Nick’s Book Blog recently posted…Review : Kiss of Deception by Mary E. PearsonMy Profile

  8. says

    I haven’t heard of this author or this book but I’m waiting for the Amazon to load and it’s a date then. Epic fantasy is something I always gladly return to, so to discover a new epic fantasy book which sounds so amazing feels like Christmas. Anyhow I love multiple POVs and they always work great in this genre. I’m so glad you enjoyed this one and soon I will too. Great review, Faye :)
    Tanja recently posted…ARC: Midnight Thief by Livia BlackburneMy Profile

  9. says

    Oh I’m glad you were able to have an ARC after waiting so much. You’re right 2 years is really a lot! But it’s so awesome when you have a wonderful books to meet your expectations like that. I didn’t know this one I confess but now I’m really curious. Great review!
    Melliane recently posted…Interview with Jaime Lee Moyer + GiveawayMy Profile

  10. says

    I love bragging pics!! :D I’m not a huge epic fantasy reader – I’m very picky as I get confused by the complexity they often have (maybe i’m not smart enough for them? Lol). But I have actually seen a couple of reviews of this series! It sounds very character driven which is definitely attractive for a character reader like me. And I love that it introduces new characters in the second book I find that helps against getting bored/monotonous. And deaths in books are bittersweet eh? I live the emotional consequence and daring nature of them, but they hurt when it’s characters we love! :( I’ll keep this one in mind for the next time I’m in the mood to jump into a fantasy! :)
    Giselle recently posted…Cover Madness Giveaway Hop!My Profile

  11. says

    Wow, Faye! I know when you get THIS excited about a book it’s worth paying attention to, and this one wasn’t even on my radar until now. I think I saw this ARC at ALA this weekend though, I wish I’d paid attention to it sooner. Looks like I’ll have to look into the first one sometime. Epic fantasy is sometimes tough for me, but every once in awhile I’ll find one that I looooooove. Thanks for the post!
    Wendy Darling recently posted…Foodie Tour of NYC + All Four Stars giveawayMy Profile

  12. says

    Wow, I did not know about this series before but I saw some of your reviews on Goodreads and you seem like a person I would trust the ratings she gives so, yeah, I think I’ll inform myself more about it and will probably try it when I finish some of the books I plan reading. :) See, I just totally love princesses (do not jugde ;)) and courage so when you said this: ”They were both strong ladies who were able to overcome various trials and tribulations, situations I don’t think I would have survived myself. ”
    I went all YES YES, AND YES! :D
    Fantastic detailed review, Faye (and what a lovely picture!)
    Lola recently posted…Review of Cracked (AKA new favorite book of 2014) by Eliza CreweMy Profile

  13. says

    JESUS. You make me want to read this. I’m not a huge fan of epic fantasy (or of fantasy at all, even when I read many of those books), BUT this sounds amazing in every sense.
    Vanessa recently posted…Review: RevivalMy Profile