Ravencry by Ed McDonald

details
Title: Ravencry.
Series: Raven’s Mark #2.
Writer(s): Ed McDonald.
Publisher: Ace Books.
Format: Paperback.
Release Date: August 21st 2018.
Pages: 384.
Genre(s): Fantasy.
ISBN13: 9780399587825.
My Overall Rating: ★★★★★.
Previously on Raven’s Mark:
Blackwing by Ed McDonald.

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If you thought you’ve seen it all then Ed McDonald has a message for you and he’s put it in the form of what’s sure to be a breathtaking trilogy. With Ravencry marking the second installment in the Raven’s Mark series, but also the halfway point of Ryhalt Galharrow’s misery-filled adventures, it’s safe to say that Ed McDonald is a master story-teller whose understanding of dark fantasy is beyond this world. His very ability to build a grim and suffocating universe while developing a complex protagonist struggling with his own issues amidst all the ravage around him brings readers to quickly realize that there’s little that can be criticized but plenty that can be praised in Ravencry. Whether it is the deadly creatures that roam Valengrad and the Misery, or the political and religious figures who come complicate his duties as a blackwing, Ryhalt Galharrow’s personality, experience and decision-making absorbs readers into a trance from which they cannot find any escape except the ending of Ravencry itself.

Taking place four years after the tragic events in Blackwing, Ravencry continues to follow Ryhalt Galharrow as he lives day to day as a bounty hunter who seeks out any individual who has been turned by the Deep Kings. While his situation has greatly improved in terms of housing and business, his mental state continues to suffer with only sleep deprivation, booze and action-seeking as his go-to methods for coping with his depressive life. It doesn’t help when the little sleep he does try to get, he is haunted by a figure that he has not yet completely dealt with on an emotional level. But when he finds himself confronting an individual that he thought he had already finished off in the past, things slowly unravel for Ryhalt Galharrow to the point where he’s dragged into another battlefield against mysterious forces that are only looking for trouble.

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Ravencry bleeds with passion. Once again told in first-person, it’s near-impossible to not get sucked into this dark world built by Ed McDonald and find yourself having compassion and understanding towards Ryhalt Galharrow. The weight of his past is easily felt and continues to eat away at his sanity without ever showing any sign of wanting to leave him alone. His character easily goes down as one of the most complex being I’ve ever had the opportunity to follow. The challenges he faces truly puts him to the test and his desire to always put himself in harm’s way for the things he believes in is unbelievable. With the addition of new characters who add not only innocence, but strength to this squad, I found myself far too often in awe at how brilliantly the dynamic between the characters was conveyed by Ed McDonald. And to put the cherry on top of the cake, the return of certain comrades allowed Ed McDonald to further explore their own issues and give readers an idea of how much the world impacts not only the protagonist, but also his friends.

Character- and world-building might have been impeccable, but the story in Ravencry merits a standing ovation. Blackwing showed us the multi-layered complexity of the war between powerful beings while focusing on the pawns in that giant game of chess. Ravencry didn’t exactly follow this idea since fans were likely to pay particular attention to the clues that could hint at the bigger scheme of things. Instead, Ravencry went for a plot that almost felt like it was meant to be a mystery built within a dark fantasy lore. Ed McDonald’s ability to develop his world and characters while maintaining the intrigue is simply phenomenal. He doesn’t use the first book of this trilogy as a reason to focus solely on his characters and the plot in Ravencry; he takes the time to set up more pieces to his world and deliver a stellar story no matter how much time that would take.

Among those pieces, religion and faith are some of them and they were brilliantly brought to life. Throughout the story, from the very first pages, readers will slowly notice the birth of a religion which all starts with what we know as religious experiences. This underlying component to the plot is thoroughly explored and Ed McDonald always finds a way to explore how mankind interprets what they don’t understand. Starting off as a dream to then turn into a vision until it finally becomes a calling, I thoroughly impressed by how well Ed McDonald made it a intricate and essential plot device. Funny enough, within the context of a dark fantasy, this whole angle also had a mysterious facet that led readers to wonder if rationality should be prioritized over skepticism.

Ravencry is simply a marvelous sequel that continues to deliver in every department.  It not only plays on your feelings through the connections you form with the characters, but also through the poetic writing style that Ed McDonald is blessed with.


EXHIBITA

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Thank you to Ace Books for sending me a copy for review!

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53 comments

  • Wow! You say the writer manages to put readers into a trance, well you certainly put me into a trance with this review! Seriously this sounds amazing. I was completely spellbinded right from the very beginning of your review. The main character sounds amazing, and if there is one thing I like in pretty much any kind of medium it’s great characters. So..this is a trilogy I will really be adding to my to read list. It’s been quite a while since I read a good fantasy novel. Really want to get back into that genre again, ASAP. Fantastic post Lashaan! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aw man, I appreciate the kind words, good sir. That definitely gives me a wonderful boost of motivation. Yep. It’s a bit rare to see a lot of first-person fantasy stories nowadays, but this one is truly amazing. You can feel the weight that Ryhalt carries around and all his veteran experience in his quite-dangerous world. I’m convinced the finale will seal the deal and make this a classic trilogy in the genre. 😀 Thanks again for taking the time to read this, Michel!

      Liked by 1 person

  • Awesome review!
    I bought the first book recently, after seeing some raving reviews, and cuz the cover was lovely 😀
    The religion theme is quite intriguing. I’m not religious, but the history of religion always interested me, even if it’s a fictional one. I mean, the author had to get the idea from real life…?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Norrie! 😀 It’s actually the blogosphere that put the first book on my radar too. And ever since I got to read Blackwing, I was incredibly happy to have gotten through it. And yes! These covers are GORGEOUS! I love the design. I can’t imagine what the third one would look like. 😛

      I’m not religious either and have always seen religion as a concept created to explain what mankind was not yet ready to explain and understand. How it is delivered or expressed in real life or fiction has always intrigued me since it shows a lot on how much the person grasps the concept and delivers it. Clearly, in Ravencry, Ed McDonald took inspiration of how some of the more extreme cults/religions were brought to life and implanted within a fantasy setting. He does magnificently! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  • I am very on the fence with this series.

    On one hand, it sounds wonderfully intriguing and well written. Al the reviews of the previous book and this one by the people I follow are all positive.
    On the other hand, the dark, the grim, the eating away of sanity, all that stuff puts me on edge. I don’t enjoy Grimdark and honestly that is the biggest obstacle to me even trying this trilogy. Thankfully, I don’t really have to make a decision until the final book comes out 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  • WOW Lashaan fantastic review! I was lucky enough to have my book signed by Ed at YALC 2018 and now it waits for me on my shelf!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aw man, thank you so much for your kind words, Sophie! I’m soooo envious of you! So cool that you got to meet him. I really hope you enjoy it when you get around to it! 😀

      Like

  • Wow! What a passionate review, Lashaan! It’s obvious that Ravencry left you with a lot to think about. Character development and relationships are key to my enjoyment of any text. I’ll be keeping an eye on the final book to be published. After all, you know I can’t read a series until they are all out. 😉

    Do you think Ravencry suffers at all from middle-book-syndrome? It doesn’t sound like it! But, having not read your review for book 1, it’s hard to compare…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Jackie! ❤ I do love a good story that does more than just tell an adventure. So much was put into the character's place within this world and the world-building. I'm just happy that the author was able to build it all up without tripping!

      Not at all. I felt like both books had different intentions. The fact that the second book went with whole other way of telling the story felt fresh and different for me. While everything in the first book heavily carries over, it still managed to find a way to tell it differently. Although… coming from someone who has only given praise for the first book (yeh.. if you thought this was passionate, you'll be surprised by what I had to say about Blackwing hahaha), you might have to gather thoughts about this series from some more folks to see what's up. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  • I haven’t read Blackwing yet, unfortunately, but your stellar review for both books definitely has piked my interest even further. And hey, anything invoking ravens is kind of in right now and I’m totally for it, no matter how vapid that sounds. I AM IN FOR IT.

    Seriously, this guy sounds like a terrific and underappreciated author. I don’t see many reviews for his books going around, except for a few niche bloggers, and even those are hard to find. So kudos for reading this and enjoying it! It definitely seems to tick all the right boxes, which is a feat in itself.

    I’m not currently in the mood for darker fantasy types but when I am, oh boy, will I try and get my hands on this one. Amazing review, as always, Lashaan! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • If you’re into the whole darker fantasy world, then this is just a must. It’s way too beautiful. And hell yes to ravens. I mean… I don’t read YA novels, but I know how omnipresent ravens are, and being finally able to read something that has ravens?! Hell yes! 😀 I do have to admit that I feel like the author and his series doesn’t get as much marketing going on than others do, but man does it deserve it. Maybe it’s how dark it is that makes it harder to do publicity around hahah Thanks for reading as always, Sophie! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  • I’ll admit I didn’t read your review too closely because I haven’t started this series yet, but I’m so looking forward to binging someday, because I have copies of both books😁

    Liked by 1 person

  • Awesome review Lashaan. The intriguing world building and the characters, especially the complex MC are a point in its favor. I don’t mind a dark fantasy but there has to be a light at then end of the tunnel. Something positive out of the weight the MC carries. Can’t wait! ❤️❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Dani! And yes to a complex MC! He’s absolutely awesome here. Yes, you’re right about the need for a little ray of hope within all the darkness. It’s why the humour (while a bit darker) helps alleviate the tone. It’s not a story that just drags you into depression though. It has its moments to boost the reader with excitement, hope and happiness. 😉

      Like

  • You read it!
    Man, your review just pulled me right back into the book and what you say is true- it truly is breathtaking… the ending left we cursing in the middle of the room and it was just whoooaaaa- so much passion and pain and anguish and worries. Galharrow is probably one of the best characters for me out there!
    Brilliant review, as always 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Couldn’t wait any longer! 😛 Tell me about it. I’m sort of sad that there’s only one more book left in this series, Galharrow is such a phenomenal character. I could totally see this book being turned into an amazing movie. The creatures alone would make this so epic! :O Thanks for reading, Liz!

      Like

  • Awesome review! I loved how this dealt with Ryhalt’s deteriorating mental state too!! And the world was built on so well in this one! And I really felt like this delivered as much as the first book! So glad you liked it too!!

    Liked by 1 person

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