Dragonbound by fire, Broken by death.
The Order have watched over the continent of Epheria for thousands of years.
But there are those who believe The Order has had its day. That it is corrupt, indulgent, and deceitful – that it is ready to fall.
The City of Ilnaen is on fire.
Dragons fill the skies.
Traitors fill the streets.
The Fall is a novella set in the world of The Bound and The Broken series. It takes place 400 years before the events of Of Blood and Fire.
I love a free prequel novella. It’s a lot like going to the counter at an ice cream shop and asking to taste a sample before committing to a flavor. I have heard lots of good things about Ryan Cahill’s The Bound and the Broken series, but I wasn’t sure if it was for me. I know some readers recommend reading this after the first book (Of Blood and Fire), but this is my first experience with Cahill’s work, so let’s see what I thought.
The Fall is best described as a snapshot of an important event that transpires before the main series. We are treated to 3 main points of view, with a fourth shorter POV to finish the book. In this novella, three factions face the fall of an important city and the unraveling of their forces in the face of dark powers that have overwhelmed them.
I know “epic” fantasy is thrown around a lot these days, but everything about this work was larger than life. I had the sensation of someone ignorant to Dungeons and Dragons walking by a table where a group of level 20 players were in the last battle of a campaign. As I read, I didn’t always understand why what was happening was important, but even when I didn’t, my only thoughts were—
There are a variety of interesting powers present in this world: the spark, blood magic, dragons, soul blades. And each one of them is given time to shine.
The description in this book is also extremely vivid. As someone who often shys away from epic fantasy and excessive description, I can say this is a work that is both suitably epic and beautifully written. Even more impressive is that Cahill had me marveling at the size and scope of the dragons, and that isn’t something I normally find myself interested in. I also think the author has a gift for following up tremendous description with cutting understatement that helps set the tone and keep the stakes foremost in mind.
For my own tastes, I really loved the first two POVs, but found myself a bit cooler on the last two. Not that there was anything wrong with how they were written, but I didn’t feel the connection to them as I did with the other characters.
If you are expecting to start this series and want a taste of what Cahill has on offer, I think this is a great starting point. I haven’t read the rest of the series enough to know, but he has caught my attention. Give it a try, it’s short, free, and exactly what a prequel novella should be.