Drast and Tyran share the spotlight, each taking alternating chapters. In this way, we come to understand each of them, if not completely empathise with them. The two are opposites in several ways; Drast the outgoing and frequently reckless older brother to Tyran’s younger but quieter and more introspective sibling. But they also have much in common. Both are very competent warriors (perhaps Tyran more so), proficient in the magical arts of Koldovstvo, and desperate to gain their father’s approval. It’s this last one that forms the crux of the story.
In the cause of their father’s ambition, the brothers take many despicable actions. They may be the protagonists of the novel but they are by no means heroes. In the opening of the novel, Drast considers killing a member of his war party, partly because they are of a rival family but mostly because Drast finds him annoying. Later Drast seemingly befriends another member of the same family only to kill him in a particularly cold-blooded manner. Tyran often laments not having the freedom to make his own decisions but submits to his father’s will more often than not. However, revelations about their past make it easy to see why.
As bad as Drast and Tyran become, Dagmar Kaligula is even worse. He has systematically used his sons' affection for each other as a means to break and control them and sees them as little more than tools to be used to further his own ends. He makes limited appearances in the book but when he does, it’s clear he is the true villain of the piece.
Outside of the primary relationships, there is a good deal of impressive world-building. The magical system of Koldovstvo, while not the first to employ the notion of magic requiring life force and ageing its user, is given a history unique to the series. Both brothers use magic in various methods, specific to their skills. There are a number of good fight scenes, ranging from individual duels to full-on battles, the majority of which have them using a combination of magic and traditional arms. The mythology behind this magic and many other aspects of the world are briefly touched on, and perhaps some could have done with a little more exploration. It may have just been me but towards the end, I felt like I was losing track of some of those details.
Anaerfell is both the first book in the Blood of Dragons duology and part of the greater Thrice Nine Legends series, so there is more to Drast & Tyran’s story as well as more of this world still to come.
4.5 out of 5 dragon blood rituals.