Years of Rayph Ivoryfist’s work has just been undone. A black magician has attacked the prison he built and released his captives, some of the most deadly people in the kingdom. One of them has sworn to kill the king, who has already barred Rayph from his court. How can Rayph save a man who won’t even allow him nearby?
One of the first things I noticed about Song is that it doesn’t feel like it’s the first book in a series. Right from the first few pages, it’s obvious that the author has created a world with a lot of history to it, far more than the book itself has room for. The advantage is that it makes everything feel richer and more real. The downside is that it can get confusing from time to time, especially when characters who have history meet and the reader is left to work out how this will affect the plot.
There are two primary POV characters; Rayph Ivoryfist and Konnon Crillian. Both are fighters, warriors, widowers. Rayph is both a swordsman and a mage, centuries old and potentially one of the most dangerous men in the world. In the book, there are only three other characters that might be a match for his skills. Even so, he is wise enough to know when he needs help; gathering a band of self-styled Manhunters to assist him in his dual tasks of capturing the escaped prisoners & safeguarding the king.
Konnon, by comparison, is more of a brawler and sometime bounty hunter. He’s gruff, short-tempered and vicious when needed. But at the same time, he mourns his dead wife and is desperate to earn enough money to find treatment for their daughter who is suffering from an unspecified paralysing disease. It isn’t immediately apparent when or if their paths will cross and watching as this plays out is one of the delights of the novel.
There is a great deal to enjoy about this book; the characterization, the action sequences and, of course, the worldbuilding. There are also one or two nitpicks; the occasional confusion mentioned before as well as what feels like the relatively brief nature of the novel. Both the world and the plot could have supported a slightly longer book. But since there are two direct sequels plus a few stand-alone novels, this is less of a drawback than it could have been. Overall, it’s a satisfying and worthwhile read, but one that still leaves you wanting more.