BOOK REVIEW | BLACKWING BY ED MCDONALD & NARRATED BY COLIN MACE

Hello Bookworms!

Today I plan to get through as many reviews as I can as I am a wee bit behind. I just posted my review of The Engineer by Darran Handshaw and I want to get through this and at least one other today!

On to the second review of the day…Blackwing by Ed McDonald!

I listened to this mostly via the audiobook and I can thank my other half for choosing it for me. He has some good taste. I gave him my phone with the Audible App open and told him to chose my next audio. There were quite a few choices and he gave me two based of the blurbs, his words were to read the ‘torturer smuggler’ one and the ‘raven tattoo’ one. Those were The Blade Itself (which I did indeed read and review) and Blackwing. So here we are writing a review for this book.

A few facts about this book:

  • Title: Blackwing
  • Author: Ed McDonald
  • Narrated by: Colin Mace
  • Series: Raven’s Mark
  • Published by Gollancz
  • Pages: 360
  • Narration Length: 11 Hours 27 Minutes

Synopsis:

Add It To Your Goodreads!

The republic faces annihilation, despite the vigilance of Galharrow’s Blackwings. When a raven tattoo rips itself from his arm to deliver a desperate message, Galharrow and a mysterious noblewoman must investigate a long dead sorcerer’s legacy. But there is a conspiracy within the citadel: traitors, flesh-eaters and the ghosts of the wastelands seek to destroy them, but if they cannot solve the ancient wizard’s paradox, the Deep Kings will walk the earth again, and all will be lost.

The war with the Eastern Empire ended in stalemate some eighty years ago, thanks to Nall’s ‘Engine’, a wizard-crafted weapon so powerful even the Deep Kings feared it. The strike of the Engine created the Misery – a wasteland full of ghosts and corrupted magic that now forms a No Mans Land along the frontier. But when Galharrow investigates a frontier fortress, he discovers complacency bordering on treason: then the walls are stormed, and the Engine fails to launch. Galharrow only escapes because of the preternatural magical power of the noblewoman he was supposed to be protecting. Together, they race to the capital to unmask the traitors and restore the republic’s defences. Far across the Misery a vast army is on the move, as the Empire prepares to call the republic’s bluff.

ORDER HERE: Audiobook | Amazon.co.uk

Review:

Here are a few things you can expect from :

  • A creative and inventive debut;
  • A page turner;
  • A grizzly flawed veteran you can’t help but love;
  • A unique and original feeling world; and
  • A gritty, epic dark fantasy.

On to the full review…

Ok, so as I am writing this review I find out that this is a FREAKING DEBUT! Like whaaaat, this book does not say ‘debut’ to me. At all. Though, saying that the last few debuts I have read have been outstanding. I even did a Sundays Seven post (SUNDAYS SEVEN | 7 GREAT FANTASY DEBUTS) on it because there are some brilliant debuts out there! Anywho, I am happy to add this to my debuts list.

I cant really remember what brought this book to my attention, but I sure know what kept it…When a raven tattoo rips itself from his arm to deliver a desperate message. I LOVE tattoos and to see them used in a fantasy story in such a key way truly delighted me and I couldn’t wait to see what else Ed McDonald could do.

I really haven’t read that much Grimdark at all. I’m trying to think now and I think I have maybe read ten Grimdark books but something about this book just feels refreshing to me as a reader. Even the common place elements are redefined in my opinion and made into something new and original.

Blackwing opens brilliantly it is gripping and we are introduced to our main character, Rhyalt Galharrow, and this corrupted and warped world. A world that you are introduced to skilfully, you are eased into its clutches and learn all you need to know cleverly and smoothly.

“Hope, Reason, Humanity: The Misery Breaks Them All.”

This book will grab you in its first chapter, as it did for me! Everything about it is great …from your first impression of Galharrow and the world to the terrifying and warped creatures that come out of the Misery.

I also really liked the horror elements in Blackwing, the monsters and creatures of this world were a thrill to read and took this book even further. It wasn’t just monsters, fantasy has monsters, it was the creepiness he brought with the monsters that increased this books fun.

Blackwing is a book that is really well written, it has you completely bespelled throughout, and has you always wanting more. Ed McDonald is able to mix several elements at once and give you and something refreshing and incredible. You truly experience the grimness of this world.  Ed McDonald also writes in first person as opposed to third person. I don’t have an issue with first person at all, but I do prefer third person, and yet I wouldn’t change this book at all as we see so so much of Galharrow.

“Burning was a bad way to go, but my reserves of empathy were usually exhausted on orphans and puppies, a lot higher up the list than arsonists and arseholes.” 

Galharrow is a brilliant character, as are all the other people who accompany him and fill this world. We have a group of grizzled and seasoned mercenaries with a past! Every single character is well built, and you want to know what made them the way they are. They are all utterly believable. Now, I am an absolute sucker for loyalty among groups in a book and its amazing reading and experiencing just how strong of a bond Galharrow has with his companions and the length he will go to make sure they are ok! It made fro some incredibly heartfelt moments and emotional punches.

“I saw you stand,” I said. “Saw your courage, back at Twelve. Saw the steel in your will, the power you command. You say there’s nothing of woman about you? You aren’t some painted vase, delicate and useless. You’re a fucking lioness. The strongest damn thing that ever lived. There’s nothing of you but woman.” 

The pacing in this book is excellent, I thought, although I imagine it can be described as a little uneven at times  and sometimes quite chaotic but I really enjoyed it. I got my action, my need for political intrigue, character building, emotional punches and exquisite world-building. Ed McDonald is a great story-teller and as such its 360 odd pages fly by. He has a unique and fascinating mix of heartfelt and meaningful moments with a raw grittiness you don’t see often.

This debut is a solid read, it is well paced with incredible characters and a refreshing and original world and magic.


THE RANKS: 

BUY THE HARDBACK | BUY THE PAPERBACK | BUY THE EBOOK | LIBRARY RENTAL OR SALE PURCHASE

Hmmmm.

What

Will

I

Rate

This

Book

FREAKING BUY THE HARDBACK! And on top of it these books are beautiful! I also got them super cheap on Amazon, I am so glad there are people who take care of books because it allows me to grab them either cheaper, when they aren’t in print any more or just that bit easier than before! And this baby is like NEW!


AGAIN Thank you for reading AND SEE YOU SOON!

9 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW | BLACKWING BY ED MCDONALD & NARRATED BY COLIN MACE

  1. Pingback: BOOK REVIEW | PRIEST OF BONES BY PETER MCLEAN & NARRATED BY DAVID MORLEY HALE | _ The Book in Hand _

  2. JonBob

    Yeeesssss! This and Ravencry are up there with some of the best books I’ve read recently. I love Galharrow just as much as I’m terrified of the world he has to live in. Ed McDonald is a bloody brilliant writer. I just started Crowfall last night and I’m already nervous about what Ryhalt is going to suffer through in this book.

    Liked by 1 person

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