Title: The Black Song.
Series: Raven’s Blade #2.
Writer(s): Anthony Ryan.
Publisher: Ace Books.
Release Date: August 4th, 2020.
My Overall Rating: ★★★★☆.
Previously in the Raven’s Blade duology:
The Wolf’s Call by Anthony Ryan.
Upon encountering a devastating loss, how far would you go to exact revenge upon those who have made you suffer? If given the shot or the opportunity to tip the scales in your favour at the cost of your sanity, of resembling the very evil that you endeavoured to take down, would you capture it or would you let it slip? Sometimes the answer to these questions lies not in what we believe but what the journey towards retribution has to offer. Completing his Raven’s Blade duology is writer Anthony Ryan (Raven’s Shadow trilogy, The Draconis Memoria trilogy) who presents fans with an action-packed sequel to the Tower Lord of the Northern Reaches’ legacy as a living legend, an unmatched warrior, and a fearless adversary to combatants and gods.
What is The Black Song about? Continuing the tale where it was left off in The Wolf’s Call, the Unified Realm remains under the threat of the Darkblade as he wages war and pursues his dominion over the realms of the Merchant Kings. With this self-proclaimed god relentlessly conquering lands and seizing opportunities to recruit vicious warriors to his fanatical army, Vaelin Al Sorna suffers a devastating loss that forces his hands to retreat alongside an ally but also with an unexpected surprise, one that can be summarized as a re-acquaintance with lost dark magic that sings within him and requires far more than he dares give. Driven with a conviction to put an end to the Darkblade’s horde, it is now time to rebuild his own forces and march towards the madness before it engulfs the rest of the world.
“Vengeance might win a war, but fear alone won’t.”
— Anthony Ryan
Split into four parts, with each one kicking off with Obvar Nagerik (Kehlbrand’s champion)’s point of view that offers insight in the Darkblade’s horde’s progression, unlike the previous story that gave this additional angle to the adventure through the eyes of Luralyn Reyerik (Kehlbrand’s sister), the story continues to mainly focus on Vaelin Al Sorna’s rise from the aftermath witnessed in The Wolf’s Call. This time around, he seeks allies in unlikely places while gaining the trust and respect of various leaders along the way. From completing challenges to coming out victorious from duels, he mostly relies on his experience, cold-blooded confidence, and his honour to make the most out of his retreat as he helps Heaven’s Chosen see to the rebirth of a brand-new army that would dare interfere with the Darkblade’s plans to conquer lands.
While character development is put to the side, writer Anthony Ryan focuses on world-building and neverending action sequences to wrap up his duology. Although Vaelin Al Sorna does share some of the internal conflicts he has to face as he tries to suppress the dark powers that have surged within him, most of the narrative revolves around exploring different lands, nations, and politics as he sees the army he’s in grow and become the very threat that the Darkblade wishes to obliterate before it’s too late. What ultimately makes this journey so satisfying despite suffering in terms of characterization is the author’s writing style that continues to showcase incredible precision and elegance, allowing readers to fully visualize the world in which evolves the narrative. With this finale focused on action, it was inevitable to especially see those moments brilliantly developed as the series comes to an end, albeit a bit abruptly, but with the proper and satisfying coherence found throughout this duology.
The Black Song is an action-packed finale to this duology focused on honour, glory, and warfare as a false god is confronted once and for all.