Ravencry (The Raven’s Mark #2) by Ed McDonald #fantasy

38126165For Ryhalt Galharrow, working for Crowfoot as a Blackwing captain is about as bad as it gets – especially when his orders are garbled, or incoherent, or impossible to carry out.

The Deep Kings are hurling fire from the sky, a ghost in the light known only as the Bright Lady had begun to manifest in visions across the city, and the cult that worship her grasp for power while the city burns around them.

Galharrow may not be able to do much about the cult – or about strange orders from the Nameless – but when Crowfoot’s arcane vault is breached and an object of terrible power is stolen, he’s propelled into a race against time to recover it. Only to do that, he needs answers, and finding them means travelling into nightmare: to the very heart of the Misery.

Source Format Pages Publisher Genre Publication Date
NetGalley eARC 432 Gollancz

(Orion Publishing Group)

Fantasy June 28th, 2018

*Many thanks to Orion Publishing Group for giving me access to Ravencry via NetGalley and making me a very happy reader, indeed!* 

This book was ‘I’m crying as I read the last page‘ kind of good. Damn it to all hells, but McDonald truly topped Blackwing with the sequel.

I could spin the usual yarn about how I was gripped from the first page- sucked right back into this world McDonald had created. I could tell you how I LOVED riding in the coat tails of Ryhalt Galharrow again. Because I did… I could tell you how magnificent it was to yet again experience the smooth ride of McDonald’s writing… but, if you’re familiar with this series already, then all of this is no news to you.

I could tell you about certain events in the book- but what use would that be? I can hardly take their glory and dull it all by recycling it to you. You either read fantasy, or you don’t. You are either familiar with Ed McDonald’s books or you aren’t… fact remains, if you are familiar and you do read fantasy, you’ll also know that what I would have to say about the plot wouldn’t make a blind bit of difference. You’re going to read it anyway! And you’re going to love it! To the Misery and back, boi!

“I know you, Captain Galharrow. You’re the footsteps of death to men like me”

After finishing the first page of the book, I put it down, sighed and thought to myself- Ryhalt! How I’ve missed you, you stubborn, unrelenting man! I was looking forward to the battles and smooth-flowing relationship dynamics I was going to have the chance to witness through him. What I was not prepared for, was the intensity of emotions to varying degrees McDonald has kicked the door in with for this book. It was an onslaught of a man’s soul in torment, and the state of thinking himself unworthy of redemption and love. 

Love’s not an easy thing to bear. Makes us doubt ourselves in ways that don’t make sense. 

Redemption, sacrifice, love and fighting for what’s good and right takes a whole new meaning in Ravencry. It’s truly, utterly intense and it doesn’t come without feeling pain or loss. A whole new light is shone on Ryhalt’s character- something we only saw a glimpse of in Blackwing. It must be the first person POV that enabled me to BE Ryhalt. To truly understand his choices, his reasoning, his pain and his hopelessness, but also his stubbornness and his unwavering loyalty and love he has for his companions. If there is ever a true show of selflessness, then Captain Galharrow is your man!

OK, I know I said it was pointless of me to sing praises where we all very well know praise is a given, but I have to say it anyway. I continued to enjoy McDonald’s writing… there is a certain quality to it that made me see and experience this book as a whole in its unique way. In a way that I think it was intended. A grim, unforgiving setting with all the good and light trying to pierce the dark; and that certain ‘spark’, that ‘pep in the step’ kind of feeling that only the characters in this book can convey. Ravencry is not just a story. It’s a matured, 7-star cask of whiskey that you display on a shelf and stare with loving eyes like your most prized possession. Both sweet and bitter, with delightful effects and not so delightful after effects.

Blackwing (book #1) was a tremendous discovery for us all fantasy lovers- we had discovered something that fed our ever-thirsty want for that specific, unique world, the magic and the characters that only fantasy can deliver. Ravencry settled solidly on the foundation of Blackwing and opened up in all dimensions by pushing each of the characters to the very limits. Tnota and Nenn (among others) showed a whole different layer to who they are. You can see inside them and taste their worries. Everyone had their own conflict- mostly due the the impact of Misery, in other parts due to the impact of a different evil trying to take away their homes and futures from them. But it’s not just showing that conflict and struggle… it’s also about displaying the courage, bravery and loyalty. The fearlessness of the characters we have come to love.

There is also a strong theme of blind, unquestioning faith in Ravencry… and lads, you all know how I love a bit of ‘religious’ controversy! I love this theme so much, that indeed I could see where all the shebang about the Order of the Bright Lady was going. I just knew it and it was marvellous- how everything unravelled a scene at a time. And even though I was sceptical like Ryhalt, I too wavered at times… could it really be? And this? This is a sign of being sucked into storytelling in a way that makes you question your own preset opinions and moral and beliefs.

Life is merciless. She doesn’t care if you’re old, young, man or woman, loved or reviled. The only thing you can count on is that you’re going to be treated with as little fairness as everyone else. 

Ravencry is simply phenomenal! And because I haven’t spoken about Galharrow enough yet- no! I haven’t!– I will offer further thoughts about him… because he is the centrepiece of the book… because I can’t stop… because he is everything- a soldier, a role model, a friend and a father figure. The last of which took my by complete surprise but it fit him perfectly and it grounded him to certain extent. I admired the addition of this relationship. It humanized the Captain. It turned him from a fictional character in a fictional book to someone that could easily step off the page and you’d know you’d always be safe!

You should consider reading the Raven’s Mark series for his character alone, if for nothing else- although, everything about this series is sensational. He is not your typical hero… he is old, and tired. He makes no excuses for being physically less than in his prime and he is willing to sacrifice his body and heart. Over and over and over again.

It passed between us, the final bell-toll in a service that had served nobody well. 

All that is now left… as I shed my tears with the goodbyes I witnessed… is to wait for the next book. The many different endings left me heartbroken and emotionally sucked me dry. I shit you not, I cried. The fuckers (who I love) in this book got to me…

Which leads me to- Nenn! You crazy woman! I love you!

You make a deep bond with a man when you ride together in the Misery. You trust each other, understand how little chance you got on your own. We’re none of us an island. 

Ravencry on Goodreads | Amazon UK | USA 

27 comments

  1. Lovely review!
    I’m not into fantasy, and haven’t heard of the author or book.
    The whiskey analogue was intriguing though, and when i saw the cover i just had to check it out. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So agree this topped blackwing- which I thought was impossible to do! And your review is wonderful- it makes me want to drive back into the misery all over again!! I love galharrow so much too and I thought the religious controversy element was done so well!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well…I am totally not familiar with this series, but after reading this glowing review, I have kicked myself to let that happen. This was a great post, and I’m sure to go check this out as soon as I can. Thanks for sharing your thoughts 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wonderful review! I’m not sure if this book would be for me, but you make it sound so fantastic that I’m having second thoughts about not adding the series at least to my wishlist. The cover is absolutely stunning by the way.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Damn good review. Thanks for the spoiler-free stunning praise for this sequel. I honestly can’t wait to read this myself. Soooo, sooo pumped to follow around mah boy further into this twister dark world. This going to be epicccc!!!! 😛

    Liked by 1 person

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