By Ed McDonald
Author: Ed McDonald
- Publisher: Gollancz
- ISBN: 978-1473222090
- Published: June 2019
- Pages: 464
- Format reviewed: Hardback
- Review date: 02/08/2019
- Language: English
Crowfall is the third novel in Ed McDonald's Raven's Mark series, following on from Blackwing and Ravencry. If you haven't read the previous two books I recommend you do so before reading this book, or indeed this review.
Some time has passed since the events of Ravencry, and the world is changed yet again. Tormenting rains that drive people mad sweep the land and new monstrous creatures rise from the warped and twisted earth. The power of the Nameless gods, who have protected from the Deep Kings horrors, lies weak and broken. Meanwhile their Blackwing captains are being picked off one by one while the Deep Kings grow in power.
Ryhalt Galharrow has been living in the misery, a self-imposed exile away from people. He's been there for so long that it has changed him, seeped into his blood and bones. He has become connected with it, the magic and the power. He can navigate the twisted land without astronomical tools (something no-one else can) and he seems to have almost superhuman abilities. But these changes come at a price, a slow corruption that affects his physical appearance as it does his mind.
The ghosts of the past, which at one time only ever appeared in the misery, now appear anywhere. Galharrow has one final, deadly mission to go once more into the darkness.
One of the many things I love about this series, and in particular this book, is the character of Galharrow. He is as about as far from being an average type of protagonist you can be. He's in his later middle years, with his best life behind him. He knows that and deals with it, along with the horrors he's had to face, by drinking and, until he is forced out, by hiding out in the misery. Worse still is he's actually a genuine and kind man in a world that has no time for kind, genuine people. And so he drinks and allows the warped magic of the misery to seep into his body and soul. But then he is reminded that the land still needs saving, and rather than stick his head in the sand and let it wash over him, he drags himself out of his pit and confronts these problems head on. That of course is the true definition of hero, doing some selfless and impossible task despite one's own circumstances, welfare or condition. But then you realise that this has been his plan all along, to consume the enough power and change his body so that he can take on this task alone - that these years of isolation have been for a purpose after all.
Then there is the writing itself, McDonald is quite the eloquent genius when he puts his mind to it, his portrayal of these twisted places are, at times, described in such a clarity as to have an almost visual acuity. His world is well thought out and as rich as any fantasy out there.
So we've got characters and backdrop, but what about the story? Well there are fights, battles, twists, turns, unpredictable reveals and an ending that takes up the last 20% or so of the book. In short it's brilliant.
Ed McDonald is a gifted author and no more is that on display than in Crowfall. The book has everything you could wish for in a novel. A great cast, an amazing protagonist, a dark, morally ambiguous story that is as unpredictable as it is entertaining and a solid ending. A powerful end to a seriously impressive series. I can't wait to see what the author does next.
Written on 2nd August 2019 by Ant .