I follow good writers through their imaginary worlds gladly, if the individual books have beginning, middle and end. Blood Song satisfied me in every sense. The premise is a classical fantasy with magic and swords and mysterious prophesies but the telling is compelling and the characters have depth. Moreover, the book made me smile as I closed it. I was sated AND looking forward to the next book at the same time. I wondered when it would come out. A quick search and lo and behold 'Tower Lord' would come out in two weeks. So, of course, I bought it.
'Tower Lord' continues the adventures of Vaelin Al Sorna, a warrior by nature with unusual secrets and some of the usual secrets as well. I love it when an author takes what fantasy readers, such as myself, read as obvious and then turn it completely around. I'm a big fan, Anthony Ryan. You have to be careful what you decide to give your muscly hero with a big sword and what you take away. Vaelin Al Sorna is balanced and charismatic. In 'Tower Lord' he has matured. His companions, enemies and friends are equally believable and interesting. If you have read fantasy then you know that there will be battles, treachery, unexpected friends and magic. The writing itself is excellent, the story is tight and well thought out.
This is the kind of writing that Stephen King talks about. For the reader the process of immersing in the story is effortless. I'm sure I have made this argument before, but I will mention it again because I think it is worth mentioning to any would be writers. There is an understanding when an author takes an established format and uses it in a story... for instance a vampire. If the author decides that vampires can walk in daylight then the setting and circumstances of the book will help a reader suspend her disbelief. A vampire that no longer depletes mortals of their life force would not be a vampire. In one notorious case, the so called vampires were sparkly, like sprinkled Ken dolls... Well, you see what I mean. Anthony Ryan, on the other hand, knows and loves his topic, and is a talented writer as well.
Sorry, I need to rant on for a bit... I admit it, of late fantasy series (not Raven's Shadow) have been driving me crazy. Somewhere half way through reading a fantasy, I realise that the book is not a book but a conglomeration of chapters. There are those books that kill off almost anyone I get to know or so convolute the problems at hand that a lifetime of reading will not resolve the mess. Some books do both. All I keep wishing for is an editor with the guts to take scissors to the draft but these days editors and writers alike often only hear the sound of tills rather than sense. I have nothing against a good series or trilogy, I love big, fat books but they must read like a book not a story made up on the spot by a dragon crazy eight year old at the dinner table.