Book Review: The Raven’s Shadow Trilogy by Anthony Ryan
I thoroughly enjoyed the Raven’s Shadow Trilogy, especially the first book, “Blood Song.” It was easily a five-star read and one of the best fantasies I’ve read since Sanderson’s “Stormlight Archives.” It focused on one character, Vaelin, and his coming-of-age story. Taking place in the school (one of my favorite settings), it offered a combative learning environment that honestly reminded me of “Harry Potter” adventures meets the medieval, gritty reality of “Game of Thrones.” The camaraderie that Vaelin formed with his fellow “brothers” was an excellent dynamic, one which I wish had carried through the rest of the trilogy.
After finishing the first book (and fangirling about it for a few days), I quickly became aware that people weren’t loving the second and third books nearly as much. I have a few theories as to why. The sequels are very different from the first one. What an author puts forth initially is usually a promise to the reader of what’s to come, and readers expect at least a bit of consistency of storytelling (which Ryan failed to deliver because his tale took off in a completely different direction).
His story also went from a single point of view to multiple points of view, bouncing around in a very “Game of Thrones” manner. I actually liked the different perspectives, each one adding a missing piece to the puzzle and written as well as Vaelin. Ironically, though, the passages involving Vaelin, the initial hero of the saga, became the least interesting … odd, right? This overall story arc remained the same, but everything built up in the first book got swept under the rug in favor of these other storylines.
While I understand how this could lead to a lot of disappointment, I admit I enjoyed “Tower Lord” (book 2) almost as much is the first book. Heck, I even liked about 80 percent of “Queen of Fire” (book 3) save one chunk near the end where I was incredibly bored and found it difficult to get through … once I did, though, I liked the ending.
Overall, even though my personal experience with the series differs from the majority, I still think the consensus is that “Blood Song” is worth reading, even if you don’t plan to continue on.