Blood of an Exile is the debut novel by Brian Naslund and it is also the first book in the Dragons of Terra trilogy. Straight off the bat i can tell you that this was an absolutely steaming hot epic fantasy novel that i absolutely loved! It had action set pieces that had me ready to throw hands at my enemies and characters i would want as my best friends.
The story focuses on the character of Silas Bershad. It has been almost 14 years since Silas was exiled from Almira and since then he has become a renowned dragon slayer having flawlessly killed 60+ dragons in the last 14 years. This is no small feet as dragon slayers don’t survive a year let alone 14. Silas should be deed by now but he isn’t and we later find out how he has been able to overcome all of those dragons he has slayed and is still breathing. Anyway, Bershad is soon drawn away from dragon slaying by the king who exiled him. He is given the task of killing the Emperor of Balaria in Burz-al-dun and in the process he must also save the kings youngest daughter Kira who has been kidnapped. If he does so, Bershad will no longer be exiled and will be able to return home and gain his freedom.
Will Bershad overcome the odds? Will his 14 years of surviving dragons come back to bite him in the ass? Hopefully this review will encourage you to find out 😉
Personally, one of the main things that really allowed this book to shine brighter than an incoming fireball to the forehead were the characters! Although the story is told from the perspective of Bershad, we also get to see the story from the point of view of characters such as Garret, Ashlyn, Vera, and Jolen. On his journey, Bershad is joined by his ally and trusted friend Rowan, Felgor a thief, Vera a warrior/assassin, and finally Bershad’s most noble steed Alfonso the donkey. What i loved about each of these characters was the fact that it was their flaws and mistakes that had brought them together. Each of them have in some way or form have f****** up.
Through the process of having to work together in order to overcome danger and the deep conversations they have amongst campfires, allows for strong bonds to be formed. Each individual begins to understand each other and how they got to where they are today. Seeing their trust grow for one another on the journey was fantastic as at first there is a lot tension but slowly everyone becomes friends.
“That’s what made life such a bastard—guilt rode on your back heavy and hard and relentless. Redemption was light as a feather. Easy to forget entirely.“
The banter between the characters was special. The character of Felgor for one was hilarious with his anecdotes and his stories. I instantly thought of Robert Sheehan whenever he spoke and kept babbling on. He also somehow always managed to steal things right under the noses of enemies. This added to his likability.
I also fell in love with the world building which i thought was executed superbly through the use of science, bio-diversity, and ecosystems. At first we may think that this is just a book about dragons being beastly creatures however, they play a more important role in this world. The survival of dragons are crucial for the environment and the biodiversity of the world. We soon find out that dragons basically keep the world and the other creatures within its ecosystem in check. By attempting to reduce the amount of dragons in the world, this results in negative and deadly consequences. This is something that princess Ashlyn of Almira has been researching for a very long time. She soon discovers that reducing the population of dragons is having a ripple effect on the world and worse is to come if this isn’t stopped
“Dragons are dangerous predators. But they do more than kill livestock. Their impact cascades down to every plant and animal in their environment, including the people of Almira. Without dragons, the natural order of this world will fall apart.”
I thought this inclusion was great because our environment is also going to shit and even though we have our laws and regulations, there has been no great strides to stop the mess humanity has made.
Finally, i can’t end this review without talking about the action, because booooooooooooy was it action packed! The action was absolutely exhilarating, brutal, and bloody. I could picture the choreographed fight scenes in my head. Especially the fights with the dragons, mercenaries, and the elite soldiers.
Overall, this book was amazing and i loved every aspect of it. It sheds new light to the myth of dragons and really highlights that there is more to them than meets the eye. The characters were also brilliant and i loved learning about everything they’ve been through in life and their attempt to fix the mistakes they made. Although dark at times, the inclusion of humour and emotional scenes/dialogue at the right moments enabled the story and characters to excel further into my heart. So if you love fantasy and dragons then i 100% recommend this. It had everything i had hoped for in a fantasy novel and I am honestly surprised that this is Brian Naslund’s debut novel because after reading this, you’d think he has written countless of books. I am very very excited to continue this series and can not wait to get to Sorcery of a Queen.
I want to end this review by thanking the amazing people at Pan MacMillan/Tor and also the lovely Siobhan who was kind enough to send me the book. I am very grateful and super appreciative to be given the chance to read and review this fantastic series 😊