MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Born in fire. Tempered in blood. Epheria is a land divided by war and mistrust. The High Lords of the south squabble and fight, only kept in check by the Dragonguard, traitors of a time long past, who serve the empire of the North. In the remote villages of southern Epheria, still reeling from the tragic loss of his brother, Calen Bryer prepares for The Proving-a test of courage and skill that not all survive. But when three strangers arrive in the village of Milltown, with a secret they are willing to die for, Calen’s world is ripped from under him and he is thrust headfirst into a war that has been raging for centuries. There is no prophecy. His coming was not foretold. He bleeds like any man, and bleed he will.
Cahill does a fantastic job meshing classic fantasy tropes with a current & fresh twist that’s all his own!
Stabby Award Winner of the Reddit, Best Indie Novel in 2021, with mages, elves, dwarves, giants, uraks… and a DRAGON!
The world building is amazing, Cahill brings you into the world of Epheria as if you can hear the the rustle of the leaves and feel the warmth of the fire along with the characters. Speaking of characters, it is filled with tons of likable ones, including the antagonists as well! There’s a sense of wonder around every corner as the story goes on leaving you frothing for more in this epic fantasy debut.
Calen and his two friends, Dann and Rist are very likeable characters, and the development each one makes through the book sucks you in. They are more than friends, they are family. They go through The Proving, which is similar to the Agog that the Spartans put their children through before becoming a man.
“that is not how we do things. You are family, maybe not by blood, but water becomes thick as blood if you go through enough shit together.”
The inspirations of classics like LoTR and Eragon are there, of course Ryan has stated in an interview with an author with Fanfiaddict that it’s more influenced by Naomi Novik’s His Majesty’s Dragon, which I haven’t read. But this is not those stories, this is the story of Calen Bryer and how he became a Draleid, and a sign of hope for the people of Epheria.
“It is not what one dragon can do. It is the symbol it creates. It is what it represents. Hope. Give people hope, and they will fight.”
I’m glad I happened to stumble upon this on Twitter because of FanFiAddict, I was able to get a signed & numbered hardback edition, to which I will continue to do on this series, that has a BEAUTIFUL dust jacket as well as a, just as beautiful naked cover, that I wish more authors would do.