I've been reading fantasy for a long time now and I know what I like - and this ticks all my boxes. There is a lot here that rings bells from other stories, you have the usual boy leaves small village with his friends and some strangers to find adventure in the wide world, you have 'evil empire' encroaching with bad intentions, you have stock fantasy races - elves, dwarves, giants, dragons. There are the usual monster types - Uraks here take the role of Orc/Troll/Trolloc and even some of the places sound familiar.
But all this familiarity does is show the author has read deeply in the genre. He tells his own story with echoes of other genre tales but the story he tells, the world he has created, is all his own.
And the story is a bloody good one at that. I have spent the last 3 nights reading as late as I could to finish it, reading until my eyes could stay open no more. I finally got there this morning - and the ending nailed it!
I think it's safe to say that it's time to set an extra place at the top table. Ryan Cahill deserves a spot there.
Of Blood and Fire ends on three (Three!!) separate cliffhangers but don't worry, the sequel, Of Darkness and Light is out on 31st December - and at just under 900 pages long it's an absolute chonker