Title: Blackwing (Raven’s Mark #1)
Author: Ed McDonald
Genre: Fantasy (grimdark)
Target audience: Adult
Date Read: 04/07/18 – 27/08/18
I want to start this review by sayinig this is a really good book. If you’re into grimdark fantasy, you will probably love it. It’s just not really my thing, and I did struggle with it at times, but it is really well developed and the writing is tight, and the things that brought down my rating are mostly a matter of personal preference.
I really enjoyed the worldbuilding here. It’s a kind of grungy, darker Ankh-Morpok, with industry and factories and also magic. I think when I started Blackwing that was the sort of thing I was in the mood for, rather than a stock standard medieval fantasy. Things are explained as the reader needs to know about them and there is a good balance of explanation and leaving it to the reader’s imagination.
I think the (anti-)hero, Ryhalt Galharrow, both worked and didn’t work for me. At times he was a loveable grump, and at other times, I just wanted him to stop wallowing and get on with things. Which isn’t entirely fair, because he had a lot to wallow about. I did enjoy his ragtag team. Nenn, especially, was a great addition.
The one big thing I did take issue with was the badass, competent female character wore a veil because she was scarred, and claimed that she couldn’t let Galharrow see her face because he would be disappointed as she “had nothing of woman about her”. And then it was up to Galharrow to validate her by telling her she’s beautiful anyway. I mean, yes, women are often insecure about their looks because of impossible standards of beauty, but that doesn’t mean it’s still disappointing to see that trope in a very capable mathematician/magician character.
The plot is interesting, and as I said earlier, the writing is quite tight. It does move slowly, though, and that is one thing I have trouble with. My reading slows right down when the book itself is slowly-paced, and that frustrates me.
I am probably not going to continue with the series, but I honestly do think that this a high quality example of its genre, so if it sounds like your thing, you should get on that.