Sunday, July 19, 2015

Review: "Queen of Fire" by Anthony Ryan

Some time back I got my hands on a copy of "Blood Song" by Anthony Ryan. The tale of Vaelin Al Sorna, a young warrior of the Faith born with the mystical Blood Song in his mind, was one I found truly engaging. I must have re-read that story a dozen times before the sequel "Tower Lord" came out.

I can't say what exactly resonated with my interests so much in Vaelin's story. The intriguing split points-of-view were clever - one in present tense as an account by a historian and one in past tense told from Vaelin's perspective.

Whatever it was, it really worked for me.

"Tower Lord" was enjoyable, but different. In the second book, Ryan opted to go with more points-of-view, giving us not only Vaelin Al Sorna's view, but that of young Reva, a would-be assassin, that of Frentis, a fellow warrior of the Faith and friend of Vaelin's, and that of the Princess Lyrna, who would become Queen of the Unified Realm.

"Tower Lord" was a much bleaker book and took the narrative, and the characters, to a much darker place. It also developed Vaelin's Blood Song ability to show just how dangerous Vaelin could be.

Then it ended on a dire cliffhanger.

"Queen of Fire" concludes the "Raven's Shadow" trilogy and the narrative of the battle against the evil being known as "The Ally". In that respect, I have to say I was glad to get a bit of closure but I still found the book a disappointment.

"Queen of Fire" lacked the engaging narrative I found appealing in "Blood Song" and the urgent thrill I found in "Tower Lord". It felt rushed and choppy in many parts. It built up the vile evil of the Volarian Empire and doesn't spare details of just how horrific the Volarians and the touch of the Ally can be, but it almost feels like it dwells a bit too long on those bits while glossing over other details from the previous books.

There were questions I have to say I didn't find answers for. How did One-Eye get his dark powers in "Blood Song"? Was he a tool of the Ally? That was always a bit ambiguous. What happened to (spoiler)Sister Sherin? Where the hell did the romance with (spoiler)Dahrena come from? Why didn't (spoiler) the mason from book one return?

Honestly, "Queen of Fire" felt rushed and a bit jarring. Didn't feel like a proper sequel to the previous two books but rather a hasty bow to tie up a plot that got a little too complex.

I'm kinda bummed. I was really looking forward to this book.

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