Review | The Fall – Ryan Cahill

About the Book

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.

Currently this novella is free if you sign up for his mailing list here.

I edited this novella. 

This novella was my introduction to Ryan Cahill’s work. I’ve seen his novel, Of Blood and Fire, around, but it’s been on Mount TBR, which is a precarious place to be these days due to all my editing and writing research things I’ve got going on. When he asked if I’d be willing to edit this novella for him, I was overjoyed at the chance to do just that. He’s an author who has done quite well for himself, and has a name that a lot of people know. He’s, in essence, someone I’d like to support, but more, he’s someone with a lot of talent. I know this, because a lot of the bloggers and authors I trust have raved about his work. 

So, he sent me his novella and I will admit, I was pretty blown away by it. 

Cahill takes a few risks here, and I appreciated all of them and the finesse by which he took them quite a bit. First, he dumps readers right into the action. There is no lag time. There’s no gradual buildup. There’s action right away, and you either sink or you swim. There’s a bit of trust on the author’s side in this particular reader-author relationship. He’s trusting you to figure it out. To go where he’s leading you, and understand the situation he’s thrusting you into as it unfolds, and it doesn’t take long for you to realize this is no small thing. This is empire-sized, and you’re right in the heart of it. In this pitched battle between good and evil, where everything important hangs in the balance. 

However, Cahill has a deft way with leading readers along. He could have made this incredibly complicated and layered, and while there are layers and complications here, they are presented in such a way they aren’t overwhelming. Cahill doesn’t hold your hand and lead you along, but he does know just how to bring you through his story with enough breadcrumbs you never feel lost. The heart of this novella is always beating, and always just within sight. 

Secondly, Cahill has The Fall split into four sections, each one told by a different character, from a different perspective of this core conflict. 

When you think of novellas, and how short they tend to be, you’ll realize how brave this is for Cahill to do. There’s only so much time, and so many words to use, and somehow Cahill managed to not just set up a conflict that is quite awe-inspiring for how all-encompassing it is, but he’s managed to bring four character POVs to blazing life for readers, and show this conflict from numerous points of view. Not only do the characters matter to me, but they help me see the core of this novella in different, unique ways. 

And, if that’s not enough, Cahill manages to make you like enough of these characters deep enough so when things happen to them, you genuinely feel for them. Surprise, anger, grief… you feel it. 

Honestly, I think novellas are an underrated art. I really enjoy editing them almost more than anything else, and the reason is because I find them fascinating. I love to see how and author takes fewer pages, fewer words, and makes a rich, layered story out of them. We tend to believe that for fantasy to be epic, the book needs to be a doorstopper. A Brandon Sanderson-sized tome. There is a time and place for that, but sometimes a novella comes along that proves that sentiment very wrong. Epic fantasy isn’t about page count, it’s about story. When an author manages to take fewer pages, fewer words, and writes a story that’s every bit as epic as George R. R. Martin, I’m interested. My brain perks up, I start studying how the author managed to pack so much epic into so few pages. There’s an artistry here, and it fascinates me. Epic fantasy is not about page count. It just isn’t. 

Epic fantasy is about story. 

What you have in The Fall is an epic fantasy in every sense of the word. It’s a setup for the first book in Cahill’s The Bound and the Broken series, which I’m absolutely chomping at the bit to read now. It is every bit as epic as any other epic fantasy out there, despite its shorter size. Pitched battles, dragons, characters you love and love to hate, tension, complexities, and carnage, this book has it all. It truly shows what novellas are capable of. Cahill is an author to watch. 

5/5 stars