Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The Black Song by Anthony Ryan
Series: Raven's Blade #2
Published by Ace on August 4, 2020
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Vaelin Al Sorna was known across the realm as the greatest of warriors, but he thought battles were behind him. He was wrong. Prophecy and rumor led him across the sea to find a woman he once loved, and drew him into a war waged by the Darkblade, a man who believes himself a god--and one who has gathered a fanatical army that threatens all of the known world.
After a costly defeat by the Darkblade, Vaelin's forces are shattered, while the self-proclaimed immortal and his army continue their terrible march. But during the clash, Vaelin regained some of the dark magic that once gave him unrivaled skill in battle. And though the fight he has been drawn into seems near unwinnable, the song that drives him now desires the blood of his enemy above all else...
The Black Song is the conclusion to the Raven’s Blade duology and is set 5 years after the events in its parent trilogy Raven’s Shadow. While you could read this without reading the other trilogy I wouldn’t. Even though the Queens Fire (Raven’s Shadow #3) was a disappointing ending for me, I think so many things are more in The Black Song because of it.
Returning to the single PoV, except for the interludes, Ryan has found his storytelling magic again and Vaelin Al Sorna carries another book to its epic conclusion. The reader enters the story right after the events of The Wolf’s Call with a newly changed Al Sorna as he now has a Song again. It isn’t the same as the one before and offers all kinds of new challenges for the hero.
Vaelin has found the woman he first loved, Sherrin and is fighting a war against another man who carries the name The Darkblade. To keep her safe, and his home country from having the same threat knock on their doors later, he has traveled to a land that reminds me of the East with ancient traditions, different gods and a slew of obstacles to overcome. He must find a way to harness his song to defeat this treat or the new Darkblade will devour the world.
I will say I’m much happier with the conclusion to this duology than I was the Raven’s Shadow. Ryan has grown as an author and has learned how to tell the story he wants to tell. I was extremely invested in Vaelin and the people he brought with him from the Tower. The buildup to the final showdown was really well done with plenty of skirmishes along the way.
If you are in this series for the romance don’t be. Ryan has a few moments that are heartfelt between our hero and the women who stole his heart so long ago. I do like where the story ended for them and the possibilities that it opened up. But I think the relationship between them is about tenth or twelfth on Ryan’s priority list. So, while it does factor into the story and who Vaelin is today it isn’t a kissing book.
Overall, I like the direction of the characters in this world. Nortah has regained some of what was lost to him. Ellese, the Darkblade’s sister played her role well and was believable at it. Sherrin, showed us in the end what she is made of and I look forward to seeing where this new road might take her. I missed Reva but did love her daughter so much. There are some fantastic strong characters who stand with Vaelin until the bitter end. Solid wrap up to so many of the questions I had about the characters I loved from Bloodsong.
“Weapons are like thoughts,” the tall man replied. “Best kept hidden until needed.”
“Not every cause I chose was hopeless. We won the Liberation War, if you recall”
“I do. I’ve also had a great deal of time to ponder the rewards of victory. I find them small indeed.”
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