The Tower Lord review

Tower Lord - Anthony  Ryan

This sequel to Anthony Ryan's marvelous Blood Song takes a different organizational structure than the first novel. In this novel, POV is split into four subplots followed concurrently much as you find in the George R.R. Martin Song of Ice and Fire books. I thought this to be a ballsy decision by the author, since the first novel was so successful. I wish all four of the main characters were equally interesting, but I found the two women much more intriguing in their struggles than the stories of Vaelin and Frentis. The author plays with some interesting themes, and to me it's this thematic material that lifts Tower Lord above standard fantasy fare. The most interesting of the characters we follow is Reva, whose story arc includes being able to reconcile being gay with the the faith that she was brought up to. Ryan explores the two-sided nature of faith, with its good qualities reflected most closely in the benign paganism of forest dwellers; the pitfalls, on the other hand, are plentiful, as various fanatical characters take their beliefs to dangerous extremes. It's easy to see the parallels the author leads us to with biblical and Islamic extremism. Another theme that Ryan explores is culture clash, most clearly dealt with in the Lyrna story, with her journey to see a mysterious female-dominated sect. Tower Lord splits naturally into two distinct parts, with an assassination cleaving the book in two. I was much more fond of the first half of the story, in which character development dominates. The last half centers around a large siege and battle, which if you have read any other fantasy novels from Tolkien on down, is pretty standard stuff. All character development is pretty much shut down post-assassination, which I feel is a major weakness to the story. It hurts the overall grace and arc of the novel. I did enjoy it, though - I have to give any story with such strong female protagonists and interesting themes my full appreciation. Gay characters in epic fantasy are far too rare, and I really liked that aspect of the story.