Series: Raven's Blade #1
Author: Anthony Ryan
Format: Paperback/eBook, 432 pages
Publication: July 23 2019 by Ace
Links: GoodReads | Amazon | B&N
Source: First to Read
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Wine Glasses
Anthony Ryan's debut novel Blood Song - book one of the Raven's Shadow series - took the fantasy world by storm. The sequels, Tower Lord and Queen of Fire were both New York Times bestsellers. Now, Anthony Ryan returns to the world of this acclaimed fantasy series with The Wolf's Call, which begins a thrilling new story of razor-sharp action and epic adventure.
PEACE NEVER LASTS
Vaelin Al Sorna is a living legend, his name known across the Realm. It was his leadership that overthrew empires, his blade that won hard-fought battles - and his sacrifice that defeated an evil more terrifying than anything the world had ever seen. Yet he cast aside his earned glory for a quiet life in the Realm's northern reaches.
Now whispers have come from across the sea of an army called the Steel Horde, led by a man who believes himself a god. Vaelin has no wish to fight another war, but when he learns that Sherin, the woman he lost long ago, has fallen into the Horde's grasp, he resolves to confront this powerful new threat.
To this end, Vaelin travels to the realms of the Merchant Kings, a land ruled by honour and intrigue. There, as the drums of war thunder across kingdoms riven by conflict, Vaelin learns a terrible truth: that there are some battles that even he cannot hope to win.
Vaelin gave a very small laugh as a long-remembered phrase came to mind. “There’s always another war.”
The Wolf's Call starts off the new series Raven's Blade but is also a continuation of the series Raven's Shadow. I would highly suggest reading that series first, as I did not, and was very lost for the first half of this story. For others that did read Raven's Shadow, they'll recognize the characters and find that even though the Queen of Fire now reigns, there will still be no peace for Vaelin Al Sorna, Tower Lord of the Northern Reaches.
Vaelin learns that his beloved, that he drugged to send away for what he considered her own safety, is now in danger. He hasn't had any contact with Sherin in years but since he sent her away, he feels responsible for her now being in danger. This is an epic fantasy series, so magic plays a big part in the story whether it be mystical orders, people with mystical powers, or mystical beings. Vaelin travels with his stowaway niece, an outlaw boy he is training, and a handful of other secondary characters.
Kehlbrand was no longer playing the role of a god. Now he was a god, a living god who would tolerate no worship of any other. He had become the Darkblade, and so was no longer my brother.
Vaelin's story is only one side of the coin, the danger he is told Sherin is going to be in, stems from a man named Kehlbrand, renamed Darkblade, now claiming to be a god. Vaelin and Kehlbrand are the overt powers at work in the story. Kehlbrand believing he is a god has decided that he needs to conquer all of the land and people, his Steele Horde army is sweeping the land and while at times physically freeing people, also enslaving their minds, through religious fervor and/or magic. While the two men are at the forefront, covertly are two women. We are first introduced to Luralyn, Kehlbrand's sister and her gift of sight, or what she calls the “True Dream”. Sharing some knowledge she gleamed from her True Dream, she ends up saving Kehlbrand, earning his trust and inadvertently setting events in motion that maybe never should have happened.
Hidden even more covertly is the other woman, the Jade Princess, a woman who has lived supposedly for centuries and has the gift of Song. She also has sight and she is entwined with Luralyn and Sherin. Sherin has been with the Jade Princess for awhile and believes in every action the Jade Princess says she must do in order to help save the world from the Darkblade. Vaelin traveling to save Sherin, who is with the Jade Princess, and Kehlbrand declaring Vaelin is a “Thief of Names” and he must be killed because Kehlbrand is the only one true Darkblade, has Luralyn traveling with him and their fates are all entwined.
“I was a coward,” he said. “And a fool. I allowed myself to fall victim to the folly of prophecy and the arrogance of believing destiny actually possesses any meaning. My only defence is that in that time and place, I had no doubts. She had to leave and I had to stay.”
Besides being a bit lost in the first half, I thought it was a bit slow. The big war seems to have happened in the series before this one and this starts off a bit as a deflated balloon. Again, reading the previous series would help as the pace would fit in better as the middle half starts to ramp things up again. The second half I enjoyed more as I was firmly settled in the world, although still missing some background character relationships, and I enjoyed the building crescendo pace as Vaelin and Kehlbrand were being brought closer and closer together. We do get our climatic scene, but it's around the 70% mark and I once again thought the pace stalled and had to work to rev back up as this becomes a cliffhanger story; I felt this particular story plot could have ended here and elongating it to a second book feels a bit stretching.
I enjoyed the character relationships and the two sides of a coin feel merged together but due to not reading the first series or not explanation, going into detail enough, I was left clueless or wanting more at times; I wish I knew the Jade Princess better and the evil stone plot could have used more filling out. This was an intriguing epic fantasy world but even though there was magic running afoot, the author still managed to make our characters' humanity the center and most fascinating part of the story.