Review: Ravencry by Ed McDonald - 8.5/10*
Blackwing was full of dynamic characters with so much potential, but above them all stood an extremely tall dark wizard (or fixer) that was one of the most intriguing things about the book: Saravor. What’s his story? What exactly does he want? He clearly craved power, undying power, and here he reaches his hand and grasps for it.
I was glad to see it happen because all through Blackwing I knew we would be seeing much more of him. For a returning reader it’s obvious he was attempting something, though for Galharrow it’s not quite so clear. Indeed, this world is full of traitors, dark powers, religious fanatics and rivalling gods that battle for control (or balance) over all life. So, it took him a while to figure it all out and, when he did, he realised just how far his terrible foe had spread his web of manipulation and control. It’s a very clever plot, and I found myself quite surprised on several occasions. It’s anything but linear.
And that’s what I like about this series, I’m not quite sure where it’s going because the enemy attacks are unpredictable and ruthless. They will do anything to win. Saravor was a third party, a force that acted between the Nameless (the good gods) and the Deep Kings (the evil gods.) He wanted his own chance to join them, and part of me wanted him to succeed just so I could see what he would do with his new-found powers. And that says a lot, for a villain that is rarely present in the flesh he certainly has a lot of presence within the story.
I’m quite excited for Crowfall, the third and final instalment of this series. I’m not quite sure how this will all end, and the plot is quite wrapped up here. And if I'm honest, I don't think this feels quite like a trilogy. If anything, it feels like a much longer story. So it will be interesting to see how Crowfall handles all the elements. I don't think it will conclude everything but leave itself open for more stories with perhaps different characters. And I'm excited by that prospect, I think there's much here that can be used again. There’s a great deal of potential.
Indeed, there were suggestions that the Drudge, the mindless minions of the Deep Kings, may have a sliver of humanity left in them. I found this quite intriguing, it would be great to see a little more of that. This idea, that a supposedly demonic enemy, is not entirely evil is something Peter Newman delivered to much surprise in The Seven and it really reversed the trilogy in on itself. It was a great idea. This could happen here, but, again, this is one of the few trilogies I've read that could go anywhere. So we shall see.
Overall, this really is a solid piece of fantasy. The world is dark, gritty and brutal. The story told with prose loaded with dark humour. And it goes to show, even in the bleakest situations a sense of bitter irony can be found.