Mihir's Reviews > Tower Lord

Tower Lord by Anthony Ryan
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it was amazing

Full review over at Fantasy Book Critic

ANALYSIS: Tower Lord is a book that I’ve been waiting for since 2012. Anthony Ryan really announced himself in spectacular fashion with his self-publication success, which then translated into a traditional publishing contract. Two years later, a lot of fans are waiting to see if he can repeat and build upon his success with Tower Lord. In my review for Blood Song, at the end I had written "give this book a read if you want to read a story that’s closest to those written by David Gemmell." With Tower Lord, he not only proves that in spades by giving the readers a siege situation similar to that in Legend and also many more memorable events and characters. There will be mild spoilers in the review below so be wary before you start.

Let's begin with the story, in Tower Lord, we get three new POV characters besides Vaelin who was the sole narrator in Blood Song. Another funny aspect of the story is that this book also follows the same narrative format as Blood Song wherein the events begin in the near past and interspersed between five current accounts of the royal Alpiran chronicler Verniers Alishe Someren. As to why the story is set in such a format and what is Verniers doing will be up to the fans to RAFO. Safe to say it's quite shocking to meet Verniers who finds himself in quite stunning conditions.

We find Vaelin Al Sorna back to the Unified realm and seeks to find his relatives who might be still surviving. The second POV character is Reva a young woman with tremendous martial skills who seeks revenge on Vaelin for a past crime. She's not an Asraelian and seeks his death single-handedly, who she is and why she hates Vaelin is spoiler material and so I won’t comment on it. Safe to say for people wanting to know her identity can take guesses and I might just give you tell if you are correct or not in the comments section below. The other two POV characters are Princess Lyrna & Frentis. I, as a fan was expecting them to be POV characters and enjoyed getting to know their thoughts.

This book also magnifies the world situation by showcasing the continent east of the Alpiran & Unified realms, namely the Volarian Empire. The story begins by detailing an attack on the unified realms from many fronts. Vaelin is faced with a new responsibility when he's made Tower Lord of the Northern Reaches by King Malcius. He has to ride north and take charge which he does but not with some reluctance. Reva’s track has us focusing on how she came to hate Vaelin so much and how she tracks him to face him for a duel. Last when we met Frentis, he was aboard a strange ship heading off to lands unknown. We find him now as an Alpiran slave who’s fighting to stay alive. Lastly we also get to explore the Northern Reaches as Princess Lyrna tries to find accord with the realm’s northern neighbors.

That’s all I’m going to say about the plot contents, as what happens in the story is that realm truly faces an invasion that boggles the mind. I can see why the author choose to expand the POV list as this story would have been impossible to cover from just a singular POV. Another highlight of this book is that nearly every character that made a major & minor impression in its predeceasing title is back in this one (except the dead ones). We get to see all of them & experience different shades to them; this was an extremely pleasurable to read. A couple of mysteries from Blood Song, namely who attacked Vaelin in the Test Of the Wild as well as who was behind it get clarified. Many other bigger revelations also abound like what truly happened to Vaelin when he was an Alpiran captive. Who is the Witch’s bastard and who are his allies? There’s also a fascinating exploration of the Seventh order and the magic system espoused in this trilogy.

Secondly going on to the characterization, Anthony Ryan shines brighter in his sophomore effort by giving us many brilliant characters. Besides Vaelin, Reva, Frentis and Princess Lyrna get the POV turn and I loved how different the characters were from what we read in Vaelin’s thoughts. Princess Lyrna was the character that was the most intriguing to me and in this book, she gets to shine truly. There’s also the brothers (Caenis, Sollis, the order aspect, etc) who we have met before and now have acquired different roles. You’ll be surprised to see many of them and how they feel about Vaelin. There are also some characters who make an appearance under a different name & it will be fun if you can spot them. Many of those who complained about Frentis’ cockney accent will be glad to know that it isn’t a problem in this sequel. Infact I would say he becomes a terror worthy of Vaelin’s status. The author also expands the readers on to the world by focusing on the realm and giving us fascinating insights into the various types of people and faiths that abound. This light is also shone upon the Alpiran as well as the Volarian culture.

Lastly the pace and action sequences are amplified across all the four POV sections, we get to see our favorite characters face odds that they have never thought of and the fun is reading how it all ends. Previously I talked about the siege-like conditions similar to Legend. The author displays his skills and gives us a fascinating account in to the siege via Verniers and then through the actual characters. This dual approach creates some confusion but it’s done in a way that will leave you with a smile in the end. Coming back to my original statement of this book being similar to Legend, David Gemmell's epic debut. We get a siege wherein legends are forged and this was the highlight of the story. And how does the author manage to top off such an exciting read, he cruelly ends the story with a chapter that hearkens back to the shocker that was the epilogue in A Storm Of Swords. This climatic chapter ends on such a note that you might not want to wait a whole year for Queen Of Fire.

There's so much more I want to gush about this book but I think I've said enough. Regarding the negatives about this title, the only thing I can think is that the story has kind of a slow start with all POV chapters. It takes only a while for the pace to pick up but once it does, the chapters fly by on to a rousing action-packed finale that is memorable. Your mileage may vary but this is the only drawback in an otherwise superb sequel.

CONCLUSION: This book easily is the best heroic epic fantasy of 2014 (bettering the high of City Of Stairs which is yet to be released) and now all other books will have to excel to overcome it. Tower Lord is a loud proclamation that Anthony Ryan is David Gemmell’s natural successor and epic fantasy’s best British talent.
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Reading Progress

December 6, 2013 – Shelved
December 6, 2013 – Shelved as: to-read
April 24, 2014 – Started Reading
April 24, 2014 –
page 139
Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-31 of 31 (31 new)

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Mihir Got all 3 new POV characters correct as part of my guesses.

Em Lost In Books Is it better than first?

Mihir Manju wrote: "Is it better than first?" Oh yes absolutely, I couldn't stop reading and now that I'm done, I'll probably re-read it again because of all the awesomeness in it.

Em Lost In Books Why July is two months away....:(:(

message 5: by Kym (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kym On tenterhooks for this one.

Kaleb Because of this review, I've decided to travel into the future and buy this book! I cannot wait any longer. I just might die from the suspense.

Kaleb Oh, and what is RAFO stand for?

message 8: by Ryan (new)

Ryan Lawler Read and Find Out

Kaleb Thank you!

Mihir @Manju . As Anthony mentioned on twitter only 61 days to go, keep the faith :)

@Kym ... Believe me this book won't disappoint.

Mihir @Kaleb Sound strategy my friend

message 12: by Mike (last edited May 01, 2014 04:52PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Mike I have a 4 year old son and three year old daughter. I frequently have to talk with them about pouting and how the act has no benefit. When I inform them that they can't stay up and play any longer as it's already 30 minutes past their bedtime or that they can't have cupcakes for breakfast, inevitably their little heads and shoulders drop, eyes to the ground as they slowly mope around.

Ironically, with as many times as I've talked with them and genuinely attempted to say "that will not help your situation, it only makes you a little more upset", you'd think I would realize that too.

Unfortunately, that seems to be what I want to do right now. Just lower my head and mope around. I am so jealous that this book is out there right now and instead of keeping me awake at night, there's another devouring it's pages. Lol.

I knew it would be awesome!

Rollie This review excites me to get my hands right now into that book.

Mihir @Mike & Rollie ... Just a couple more months guys :)

message 15: by Baz (new) - added it

Baz I made a shelf and called it "6-Stars" just for books that are mind blowing, Blood song is on that shelf. I hope this one doesn't disappoint. I'm really looking forward to reading it. Were you satisfied with book 2?

Mihir I was, of course when compared to Blood Song, the ending lacks a little "something" (spoilers). I thought TL though had a lot more revelations and clarified a lot more about the characters due to the increase in POVs. IMO Blood Song will be always the better book because of the surprise factor and its completeness in the plot department.

message 17: by Baz (new) - added it

Baz How do you feel about the 4 povs? I'm not to sure how I feel about it, (I haven't read it of course) I enjoyed the one pov in blood song, is Vaelin still the *lead* of a sort?

message 18: by Baz (new) - added it

Baz Also if you dont mind me asking, "the ending lacks a little something" which book were you referring too? kinda confused haha

Mihir I actually enjoyed the increase in POVs, it works very well in Tower Lord wherein the story is focused on several different regions. Vaelin is one of the leads and I enjoyed the others as well (particularly one of the newer POVs who was my fav in BS).

As for the ending, I was referring to Tower Lord.

Jeremy R I loved Blood Song. It was and remains one of my favorite books, and it pleases me greatly to hear you say that Tower Lord contains similarly excellent characters and conflicts.

I do have a question for you: Is this series (a raven's shadow) a planned trilogy? If so, do you think Ryan will be able to effectively "wrap up" the trio?

Mihir Hi Jeremy, yes Raven's Shadow is a trilogy & Anthony plans to complete the series with 3 books. He has mentioned that he might write other books in this milieu in the future but Vaelin's story will definitely end with Queen Of Fire (book 3).

Mike Mihir, this was a huge disappointment to me. Though I loved Blood Song, this follow up is flawed in my opinion. I'm not insinuating that you would do this but I hope that readers are not allowing their love for Blood Song and the fact that they received ARC's for TL sway their reviews for Tower Lord. Again, not saying that's the case with you. I just fell it's likely the case for some or many. I sincerely want Ryan to receive honest feedback so that he can return to his previous form. All of this is of course IMO.

message 23: by Baz (new) - added it

Baz Hey Mike, without spoiling it, what triggered your disappointment?

Mike Baz, I would suggest going to Amazon and reading as many 3 star reviews as you are able. It's not horrible but it's not great either. I want to do a reread before I really start detailing my feelings on it. Seriously check out amazon though and read the 3 stars. Many of them portray a great picture for TL's flaws.

Mike Everyone has their own opinion though. As you can see by the stark contrast between Mihir and myself.

Mihir Hey Mike, that's completely understandable. I've been following the reviews on Amazon & they have been surprising. I might be biased in my thoughts but I honestly enjoyed TL a lot. Of course it's not as fine a read as BS was but I still loved how the author expanded the POV & story scope.

You are correct with your thoughts & I believe we are both subjectively correct with our thoughts. I think this is very similar to what happened with Pat Rothfuss' A Wise Man's Fear. Many of the fans were utterly divided in their opinions about the sequel.

Mike Mihir wrote: "Hey Mike, that's completely understandable. I've been following the reviews on Amazon & they have been surprising. I might be biased in my thoughts but I honestly enjoyed TL a lot. Of course it's n..."

Very well put Mihir!

Mihir @ Baz many folks have been stymied by the slow-ish start & because of the increase in POVs, feel that TL lacks the tight narrative focus that BS possessed (& in this they are partially correct). However the story wouldn't have been possible with just Vaelin's view.

I'm sure Mike will have some more important points to add & I'll be waiting to read his thoughts too.

Frank Steele "Anthony Ryan shines brighter in his sophomore effort by giving us many brilliant characters" No he doesn't. He gives mediocre characters at best. This sucked, I'm out.

Mihir That's your opinion Frank & I happen to disagree. I'm sure you'll find people who agree with you & I can find who disagree with you. If you didn't enjoy it then no problem, read what you like.

Steven Zimmerman I'd say tom lloyd has had the title since gemmell passed on, however as his second series failed to grab me anthony ryan might be close to taking the belt.

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