I broke my book drought to devour this book last week and I loved it. I read Of Fire and Blood earlier this year, and I had been meaning to pick up The Fall for ages and I am glad that I did, because this was a fantastic novella. And today is an auspicious day to be reviewing it, because the e-arc for the next book in the series Of Darkness and Light landed in my inbox today and I can’t wait to dive in.
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 prequel novella that takes place four hundred years before the events in Of Blood and Fire – book one in The Bound and The Broken series.
There is so much to love about The Fall, however, on a purely personal level, I loved this book because not only does it scratch that classic, epic fantasy itch – but also in how the dragons and their partners were portrayed. My gateway to fantasy many years ago was dragons, and specifically dragons and their riders, so seeing that here was just wonderful and everything I love about fantasy, a wonderful blend of the new and exciting and some cosy nostalgia on top of that. What, I particularly like is that Cahill is playing with those classic features, but makes them his own, weaving them into his world and the story he is telling with a richness that sets it apart.
Having read Of Fire and Blood previous to this – which was an excellent debut – it is clear to see here that Cahill is coming into his own, not just with the writing, but also with the calculated risks taken in the structure and flow of this novella. Risks that have more than paid off, to create a novella that is not only beautifully crafted but also adds so much to this world, and the broader story and packs more than one punch in these pages.
One of those risks, which can be hit or miss for me depending on how it is done, is that we were dropped right into the middle of the action. The Fall was already in progress. It’s a trust exercise on both sides, and here it worked perfectly because Cahill manages to balance that moment of being dropped in the deep end with enough details and ongoing development for the reader to find their way, without having their hand held. For me, I liked that it immediately gave a feeling of high stakes even though we had just joined the character, and we’re trying to find our footing, and it was a fantastic way to be immersed into the story. It also sets the tone and pace for the book, and The Fall does have its quieter moments – but for the most part, it is chaotic and action-packed, and Cahill lets us see that from the beginning, while also taking the time to explore the character’s motivations and actions.
This was the other risk, as this novella is split into four separate POVs. I don’t generally like comparing books because everyone is a different voice and approach regardless of any similarities, but I’ve just read a novella where the character development wasn’t really there, even though there was one primary POV with a small cast of characters around them. That is not the case here. In the space of fewer than a hundred pages, Cahill introduces us to four very different characters, who each stand out in their own way. Would I like to know more about them? Absolutely. But, we are given enough about their motivations and their role in the unfolding situation, to know that they are important, and to be invested in what is happening to them and what they are doing, and that is purely down to how Cahill writes them.
“The gods have not abandoned us, just as we will not abandon the people we swore to protect. If we die tonight, we die with out swords in our hands, staring into the eyes of the one who send us into the void.”
I also loved how those four POV characters, also offered us different viewpoints of the conflict – and from different sides. Not, only did it add depth to the events unfolding – but it made the action feel even more dynamic because we were following the different moving pieces, while also being able to see how they connect to tell the story of The Fall.
The Fall is one of those books that you can’t put down, and I honestly believe that would have been true even if it had been hundreds of pages long. It was wonderful to see how far the author has come, and to see the links with the next book, while also learning more about the world of Epheria– and the events of this book were just so striking and in places heartbreaking (the eggs!) that it shines brightly all on its own.
If you’ve read it, or read it in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this fantastic book.