Series- Raven's Mark #1
Genres- Fantasy, Dystopian, Post Apocalyptic
Synopsis- 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.
My Review- This book is, by far, my favourite read of the year.
Ryhalt Galharrow is a gritting, battle-hardened character that lives his life hunting down criminals in the Misery. The Misery is a sort of No Man's Land, full of strange half-formed creatures and a torn up sky, between man and the magically twisted army of an enemy called The Deep Kings, beings with unfathomable power. They are held back only by a weapon made by one of the Nameless, wizards who are seemingly on the side of man in the war, called Nall's Engine. Only a woman Ryhalt once loved has discovered that the weapon no longer works.
Blackwing is full of dark twists and turns, distrust and political corruption. The writing is phenomenal. World building perfect and it has some of the best descriptions of violence I've read in a very long time. Ed McDonald doesn't write prettily. We are hit hard with the day to day life of this post-war (and still ongoing) lifestyle. There is a rotten underbelly and a rotten government and anyone in between either shut up and live the lives they are dealt or succumb to a terrible ending. Quite a few of those ending come at Ryhalt's hand.
Ryhalt is a fantastically written character. Upon meeting him we learn he isn't a particularly nice man, unforgiving and full of bitterness and hardness. He has lived a terrible life and the more you learn about him, the more you come to care for him. He is courageous and strong, cunning and loyal to only a few in his life.
I can't wait to pick up the next book in the series and see more twists and shocks the author throws at me. Each one keeps the pages turning and cheering on a man who would probably turn a blade on you if it helped him reach his goals.