This is just not, as people are wont to say, my thing. As John Clute would say, there’s a clear Thinning (a diminishment of the world depicted) in this novel. It’s quite beyond my grasp the way that no matter how big this world was supposed to be, everyone kept running into one another everywhere. This is a frequently encountered “no-no” for lesser quality fantasy fiction and it was disappointing to see it also here. Travels over great distances and pivotal events (like battles) were often barely portrayed and instead we, the reader, joined the “fray” after they'd already concluded (read “The Heroes” to see how it should be undertaken). This gave the world an unreal feeling and constituted a total failure of world-building.
Someone told me this novel was better than “A Name of the Wind” (a book I also detested), “A Game of Thrones” and “Red Country” by Joe Abercrombie. I don’t do book comparisons. Each book must stand on its own merits, but in this case I can’t resist. Comparing “Blood Song” with “A Game of Thrones” and “The Heroes” is like saying Martin Payne is on the same wavelength as Martin Luther King.
I’ve read Anthony Ryan’s Blood Song because it showed up in my Goodreads “recommended” list with a ton of 5-star reviews (just like “Wool” by Hugh Howey, which I didn't like as well). I’m usually suspicious, however, when the reviews so vigorously rubber-stamp the greatness of a book. Based on my experience with “Blood Song”, I was right to be suspicious.
While "Blood Song" is not really awful, I’m totally baffled as to how it earned so many 5-star reviews. I’m long past the age where I enjoy coming-of-age stories, if I ever did like them much. So maybe that’s the reason I don’t understand why “Blood Song” is getting so much praise.
There is a good story in the book somewhere. I did enjoy the parts that take place in the present. They’re just buried under all the awful writing. The dialogue isn't very realistic and the story comes across as overly outlined instead of continuous.
There is just nothing special enough about “Blood Song” to hold its own against all the other good fantasy books that are currently out there (above-mentioned just some of them). The prose is little more than utilitarian (Ryan uses far too many comma splices in his writing for my taste) and the book just doesn't live up to the fuss. There is no other way to say it.