Archive for February, 2019

The second in Ed McDonald’s series, Ravencry is, without a doubt, an astounding novel and one of the best fantasy books I’ve read in some time. Set four years after the end of Blackwing, Ed McDonald has created a work of epic proportions as Captain Galharrow is faced with yet another impossible task against a foe whose powers are growing all the time.

As the Range tries to rebuild itself after the Deep Kings’ attacks, Galharrow has found himself raised up and suddenly respected once more. Funded, comfortable and with a payroll of employees to do his biding, the Blackwing Captain is finally able to do the work the Nameless ask of him and the Range require of him. Yet, soon enough, events conspire to unbalance his new found position: a strange meeting out in the Misery (the wasteland of monsters and poisonous sand), a murdered navigator and a growing, newly established religion have Galharrow on the back foot. But, when an artifact is stolen from a god’s magically protected safehold, the Captain realises just how bad things are becoming.

The Nameless gods and Deep Kings continue to wage their war but Galharrow is faced with a different enemy, one who has wormed his way into the very fabric of the city, controlling and commanding minds and bodies to his whim. However, Galharrow is as tough as they come and fuelled by a power as equally strong.

Ravencry builds on the first in the series wonderfully, adding layers and layers to the world building and giving depth to characters already enthralling and engaging. There are tales within tales at play as the larger narrative ramps up the tension and excitement into a crescendo worthy of any finale – until you realise this is book two and there is, fantastically, more in the series.

Ed McDonald is another addition to the growing powerhouse of new fantasy authors working today and Ravencry is testament to that talent and imagination.

Review copy

Published by Gollancz

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I’ve categorically failed to post a best of 2018 and I’m still struggling with all manner of other time consuming activities which have made a real dent into my reading/blogging time. But, I’m nothing if not stubborn, and with a number of great books on the shelves waiting to be read, I’m adamant that I’ll keep this blog alive.

The first book in Scott Reintgen’s series was thoroughly enjoyable, hitting all those satisfying tropes like the sci-fi military boot camp and the big-bad shadowy corporation behind everything. The cast of characters was novel for their diversity and their real-world problems but also very easy to empathise with as they fought and competed to ‘win’ their opportunity to visit an alien planet and make their fortune.

In Unleashed, the group have landed amongst the alien Adamites to a surprisingly warm reception. But, as ever with Babel, nothing is as it seems as the company continue to pull strings behind the scenes for their own nefarious purposes. However, unlike the opening novel, the tension here loses some of its power and the author is forced to rely on repetitive emotional confrontations to pull the story along. Don’t get me wrong, Unleashed is still chock full of excellent world-building and intriguing prose, and the author doesn’t shy away from treating his actors with the very real characteristics of the current, teenage generation’s attitudes and ideas. Where things seemed, to me at least, to stall was in the need to bridge the gap between the first book and the third, setting up a scenario that will clearly pay fruit but which felt a little too drawn out. It is perhaps a difficult ‘second album’ issue.

Unleashed is still a great read, especially for those invested in the characters and world (of which I am sure there are plenty). We see the protagonists grow and mature, dealing with difficult circumstances and relationships all the while navigating an alien world. Trust and truth are tested to the extreme as the group try to understand where they stand, though, in the end, they realise it is only together that they will survive the various honey traps set for them by Babel. The last quarter of the book explodes with potential, setting up the next novel perfectly.

Unleashed is a title that could refer to all manner of ideas explored in the book, from the substance the crew are sent to mine, to their own anger and frustration at Babel, or the plans of the Adamites themselves. Nyxia continues to be an intriguing series and the story of the teenage crew remains as gripping and fraught as ever.

Review copy

Published by Penguin