June 30, 2018

BLOG TOUR| Blackwing Review / Ravencry First Impressions

**SIDENOTE: I was set up to do a full review of Ravencry. However, some stuff has happened recently that meant I've had the amount of time reading drastically reduced. I only managed 150 pages. I have yet to write a review of Blackwing - first book in the series - so your getting two things to make up for the thing I was set up to do. **

Blackwing (Ravens' Mark #1)
Ed McDonald

UK Publisher: Gollancz
UK Release Date: July 27th, 2017

The republic faces annihilation, despite the vigilance of Galharrow's Blackwings. When a raven tattoo rips itself from his arm to deliver a desperate message, Galharrow and a mysterious noblewoman must investigate a long dead sorcerer's legacy. But there is a conspiracy within the citadel: traitors, flesh-eaters and the ghosts of the wastelands seek to destroy them, but if they cannot solve the ancient wizard's paradox, the Deep Kings will walk the earth again, and all will be lost.
The war with the Eastern Empire ended in stalemate some eighty years ago, thanks to Nall's 'Engine', a wizard-crafted weapon so powerful even the Deep Kings feared it. The strike of the Engine created the Misery - a wasteland full of ghosts and corrupted magic that now forms a No Mans Land along the frontier. But when Galharrow investigates a frontier fortress, he discovers complacency bordering on treason: then the walls are stormed, and the Engine fails to launch. Galharrow only escapes because of the preternatural magical power of the noblewoman he was supposed to be protecting. Together, they race to the capital to unmask the traitors and restore the republic's defences. Far across the Misery a vast army is on the move, as the Empire prepares to call the republic's bluff.
Blackwing starts in the depths of an apocalyptic wasteland - in the Misery. Think the Fold from Bardugo's Shadow and Bone trilogy, but grittier, closer to the horrors of radiation mutations and the product of a war against Kings that have the powers of Gods. The worldbuilding on McDonald's part fixes for a narrative that believable and immersive.
There's something very likable about the very un-likable Captain Rhyalt Galharrow. It takes a lot for a first person narrative to draw me in from the first line. It has to grip me, throw me into a series of questions, give me a taste of the person I'm relying on to tell this narrative.
Somebody warned them that we were coming.
Galharrow is a seasoned warrior, bound to the Nameless, Crowfoot, and the product from living in a world such as in Blackwing. The one thing I lacked was more interaction with the side characters of Nenn and Tnota. I got a lot of information about them from Galharrow's inner monologue. but I didn't get enough of dialogue interactions - maybe this is just me being greedy as there was a fair amount, but just felt like once Ezabeth entered into the story everyone else falls by the way side. Which is why I lowered from a five to a four.

I thought I was out of things to praise and then thought, holy shit Batman, the fight sequences! The detailed, yet so efficiently precise execution is blindingly incredible. And one more thing that kept me gripped to the page. I believe that McDonald actually practices the fight sequence with the London Longsword Academy before putting them on the page. And it pays off.
This is a book that is polished, compact and lends itself to the gritty action of a grimdark novel. Don't be fooled by the tag of 'debut author'.


Ravencry (Ravens' Mark #2)
Ed McDonald

UK publisher: Gollancz
UK Release Date: June 18th, 2018

Synopsis (May contain spoilers for Blackwing):
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 her power even as the city burns around them.
When the Crowfoot's arcane vault is breached, an object of terrible power is stolen, and Galharrow and his Blackwings must once find out which of Valngrad'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.
First Impressions
I wasn't expecting it to take place four years after the events of Blackwing, that has thrown me out a little bit. However, just like book once, I am drawn back in to Galharrow's distinctive narrative voice. 

Much like the first book, we are thrown into the forefront of the action. If you read that first chapter and not want to continue on, the =n I don't know what else could convince you. That being said, this is taking a different route, or at least something feels different. 

I can't you anymore than that, at the moment. Not until I've read that final line and made my notes. But just know: this sequel is set for something impressive.


About the author

Ed McDonald has spent many years dancing between different professions, cities and countries, but the only thing any of them share in common in that they have allowed him enough free time to write. He currently lives in London, a city that provides him with constant inspiration, where he works as a university lecturer. When he's not grading essays or wrangling with misbehaving plot lines he can usually be found fencing with longswords, rapiers and pollaxes.

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