Review: Ravencry by Ed McDonald

37536573Blackwing was one of the books that made it onto my best of 2017 list pretty easily, so naturally I was eagerly anticipating the follow-up.

So thanks to the author, as well as Berkley via NetGalley for the review copy. 🙂

Four years have passed since Nall’s Engine drove the Deep Kings back across the Misery, but as they hurl fire from the sky, darker forces plots against the republic.

A new power is rising: a ghost in the light known only as the Bright Lady manifests in visions across the city, and the cult that worship her grasp for power even as the city burns around them.

When Crowfoot’s arcane vault is breached, an object of terrible power is stolen, and Galharrow and his Blackwings must once find out which of Valengrad’s enemies is responsible before they have a chance to use it.

To save Valengrad, Galharrow, Nenn and Tnota must venture to a darker, more twisted and more dangerous place than any they’ve walked before: the very heart of the Misery.

RAVENCRY is the second book in the Raven’s Mark series, continuing the story that began with the award winning epic fantasy BLACKWING.

Individual people can be highly intelligent, but put them into a mob and they change. They become something else. Something really, really fucking stupid.

It’s been four years since the end of Blackwing and all the shenanigans that went down in it, and Ryhalt Galharrow and the rest of Blackwing are enjoying a time of relative peace in the city of Valengrad. Until something very important gets stolen from Crowfoot’s vault – and then fire starts raining down from the sky. So much for relative peace.

So, it’s up to Galharrow to figure out what is happening and try and stop it, as that is what Blackwing does. They are the arm of Crowfoot and the other Nameless. And Crowfoot wants his shit back, for one, and since it was probably a plot from the Deep Kings, the Nameless’ eternal enemies, to steal it, Blackwing is the perfect group to get it back.

At the same time, it seems as though the drudge, the underlings of the Deep Kings, are hurling fiery missiles at the Grandspire, a giant new building that is being erected in the city for use as a phos mill (people in this world can spin light from the moon that is often used as energy, this is called ‘phos’). People have reported seeing a woman in the light of phos as of late, and worship of her has turned into an actual religion. The Order of the Bright Lady believes that the woman in the light is going to come out of it to save them when the Grandspire is completed. So they obviously can’t let it get destroyed by the drudge. So we have a magically talented group of zealots protecting a building, and the actual leaders of the city’s government and their soldiers telling them not to. That goes about as well as you’d think.

I really like Galharrow as a character. This book is fairly dark, but it’s the world that’s dark, not the characters, per sey. Galharrow, while he will go to pretty long lengths to do what he needs to do (or what Crowfoot tells him to do), he’s not your typical grim protagonist. He’s not a hero, but he’s certainly not an antihero either. He doesn’t indiscriminately murder, he actually cares about his employees, and his friends. He’s a pretty good guy, all told, who will get shit done when tasked to do so.

His banter with Nenn, and Nenn as a character was awesome, just as she was in Blackwing. Tnota is another character that I really liked. They both give Galharrow some good advice from time to time, and their part in the overall plot definitely kept me reading. There were additional characters in this one that I really liked, Amaira, Valiya, and most especially a talking raven who gives Galharrow shit at every opportunity with beaucoup de snark.

Well written and immersive, this was a great sequel. It was mysterious enough that I kept reading far, far later than I should have. Characters that I wanted to read about, and an engaging plot that I wanted to see to completion made this a quick and easy read.

Like it did in Blackwing, the world imagined here still reminds me quite often of that of Trigun. This is specifically because of the similarity of phos and the idea of using harnessed magic as energy to the harnessing of the Plants as energy. While thematically quite different, with a much darker tone, the settings are somewhat similar. Somewhere around the second industrial revolution. Guns and gunslingers and horses and carriages, but also electricity and telegraphs, etc. A city surrounded by a wasteland that is difficult to safely travel across. Enemies that are somewhat ridiculously powerful, but mysterious. That sort of thing. This is not a bad thing – Trigun (both the manga and the anime) remains to this day one of my favorite pieces of media ever created, and for me, which should be apparent to anyone that reads my reviews, having a parallel in something else that I love makes books so much easier for me to latch onto. I’m more likely to love a thing if I love something similar, I guess is a good way to put it.

The ending of this one, probably the last quarter or so of the book, was bonkers and kept me up far past my bedtime reading. Very compelling and even got me in the feels a couple times, which I wasn’t expecting. I’m excited to see where this story goes in the future, because if events from this one are setting something up, it’s gonna be crazy from here on.

ravens-flight-steve-goad
Because ravens are awesome. Click for source.

All told, I really liked it. I can safely say I liked it even more than Blackwing, too. I got far more emotionally invested in these guys in this volume than I feel like I did in the first. This one is a definite 5/5 stars from me. Honestly, this is apparently the year for sequels that are amazing. This one is no exception.

You can see this book on goodreads here, and grab a copy of it here.

Thanks again to Berkley via NetGalley for the review copy. 🙂

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