Queen of Fire by Anthony Ryan, (No.3 Raven’s Shadow)

Just finished reading Anthony Ryan’s concluding episode to the Raven’s Shadow trilogy, Queen of Fire, which brings to a conclusion this excellent trilogy.  If you haven’t already read Bloodsong and Tower Lord I will forewarn you that this review may contain spoilers.   Also, if you haven’t yet picked up this series I certainly recommend you to do so.

Without doubt this is an action packed and bloody finale to the story.  We pick up where the Tower Lord left off.  Queen Lyrna, not content with having cast the Volarians from Alltor is bent on revenge.  She’s gathering her troops and she’s about to take the fight to the Volarian’s doorstep, fight on her terms rather than wait for them to regroup and try their hand at invasion again.  I’m not going to delve too deeply into the plot in this review.  I can say that the book once again follows the format from The Tower Lord with multiple POVs used to take the story forward and I must say this is a very winning formula particularly as the main characters are going to once again go on separate journeys, each following a plan vital to the success of the Queen’s campaign.

So, to the characters.  This time around Vaelin makes a life threatening journey across the ice to meet a man who has lived for many hundreds of years. Along the way he will gather others who wish to join the fight against the tyranny of the Volarians.  I really enjoyed this aspect of the story, particularly meeting different races and experiencing the varied cultures of this world.  We come across warriors who can make wolves, hawks and bears bend to their will.  On top of this Vaelin encounters a good deal of intrigue as he tries to uncover secrets long ago hidden.  We discover a little bit more about the ancient people that once populated the world and look at the events that led to their downfall.  We also make the acquaintance of the ‘ally’ and get more of a glimpse into his plans.  I have to admit that when Vaelin was robbed of his ‘dark’ gift at the conclusion of No.2 I was a bit dismayed and in fact I think in picking this up I started reading firmly with the expectation that he would retrieve his bloodsong in fairly short order!  However, Ryan doesn’t do the obvious here, he let’s not only Vaelin, but us, suffer the disappointment of loss and it’s almost painful to watch as Vaelin comes to grips with exactly how much he really has lost.  Of course he misses his song, it’s been his constant and most reliable companion and whilst we, the readers, may feel a little bereft in it’s absence Vaelin actually starts to unravel a little bit.  It’s almost painful to read as he loses not only his gift but his confidence and even his ability until he eventually realises that his song was something additional.  It wasn’t the complete package and the skills he acquired over his years of training are his with or without the knowledge that the song brought.  You can’t help breathing a sigh of relief on his behalf at this point or in fact give a little air punch that he seems to have returned to himself again.

Then, for me, we have two characters who I felt in a way stole the show.  Frentis and Reva.  Both are set upon different routes.  Frentis to try and find a sneaky back route into the heart of the Volarian holdings.  Rushing boldly into situations, freeing slaves and drawing the steely eye of the Empress (the woman who held him captive and made him commit terrible deeds in the Tower Lord).  He may not be in her thrall but she still has the ability to torment him in his dreams.  Reva sets sail aboard a new ship, accompanied by her archers who frankly worship the ground on which she walks.  She’s not entirely happy with the course of action or the lies she has had to spin in order to raise numbers.  Unfortunately her route will be dogged by misfortune and she will once again find herself at the centre of the action.

Lyrna is a complex character.  During book No.2 I really enjoyed reading her chapters.  In this story I found myself alternating a little between liking and disliking her.  She undoubtedly steps up to the mark in this book proving herself to be worthy of the title ‘Queen’, relaying orders and making difficult decisions where necessary.  She became overly confident in her own pearls of wisdom for a while and suffered and learnt an expensive lesson as a result.  However, in spite of this she had moments where you couldn’t help thinking that she was wandering into the remit of ‘tyrant’ herself.  I veered between thinking her rather brilliant in one moment to wondering about her motives and scheming the next.  I think I do her a disservice though.  She has to make difficult decisions and she does so without doubt – the difference here is that in the previous book Lyrna was a princess, in this she is a queen.

Vernier once again is given a number of chapters in which to ‘chronicle’ his stories.  I wouldn’t say that in this book these were my favourite chapters – they’re not bad, just not as compelling as the others.

In terms of plot and action – there are plenty of both.  You certainly can’ accuse Mr Ryan of being tardy in either respect.  This is a fast paced story with plenty of unrelenting tension.

I did have a couple of minor criticisms – there is so much death and destruction to read about that I eventually felt like I became numb towards it and the atrocities at play.  There was also a little of the story towards the latter chapters which felt a bit like a history lesson or info dump, not enough so to be irritating though.  And, yes, I can’t deny that there is a certain sort of bittersweet feel to the ending.  Sorry to be vague!

On the whole this has been a captivating series and one that I have thoroughly enjoyed.  The writing has been excellent, the characters interesting and varied and frankly I can’t fault an author who gives me characters such as Reva and Frentis who I just love reading about.  I would say that on balance I enjoyed the first two books more but, regardless of that this is an absolute must read.

I received a copy of this via the publishers through Netgalley.  The above is my own opinion.

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9 Responses to “Queen of Fire by Anthony Ryan, (No.3 Raven’s Shadow)”

  1. mightythorjrs

    Awesome review! I am very excited for this book!

    • lynnsbooks

      It’s a good ending. Very fast paced with constant action.
      Lynn 😀

  2. June brings tulips, lillies, roses… |

    […] Queen of Fire by Anthony Ryan […]

  3. Tammy

    I haven’t started this series but bloggers seem to love these books. One of these days I’m going to do nothing but go back and read blogger recs:-D

    • lynnsbooks

      Al three together it is a huge chunk of reading and I think as a blogger it kind of puts you off a bit because it’s so time consuming. It’s a very good series though. The third one I felt wasn’t as good as the previous two. It’s still a good ending but for me it felt like there was so much action and bloodshed I almost became immune to it! But, overall a great series.
      Lynn 😀

  4. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    I am going to have to make time for this one very soon – it’s a huuuuuuge tome! I’m prepared for myself not enjoying it as much as the previous two books, but nothing will stop me from getting to this finale.

    • lynnsbooks

      Absolutely, you have to conclude the series. In all honesty, although I don’t think this was as good as the previous two, it’s still a very good read. I think my main problem will probably be something that others may really love, which is that it was very action focused and less so there was less character growth. Plus there was such a lot of bloodshed I became a bit immune to it! But, on the whole I have to hand it to Ryan, this has been a very good series and I feel almost a bit nitpicky making any criticisms at all really. I look forward to seeing what you make of it.
      Lynn 😀

  5. Danya @ Fine Print

    I have heard so many great things about this trilogy – now that it’s about to be completed I may have to join in! Although I will confess that I can’t usually read epic fantasy series unless there’s an element of romance to them, so maybe all the death and destruction wouldn’t play well for me. *shrugs* What can I say? I love love! 😀

    • lynnsbooks

      It really is an epic series and very good. But I can imagine it being a bit daunting looking at all those pages that are now out!! Well, that’s how I always feel when I’m faced with a full series. And, yeah, the romance element is very minimal in this series. I love love too!
      Lynn 😀

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