The Wolf’s Call (Raven’s Blade #1) by Anthony Ryan

thewolf'scallThe Wolf’s Call is a return by Anthony Ryan to the character and world that everyone loved in Blood Song.  Before even starting to think of how best to review this I need to make two points clear, well, three actually.

Firstly, if you haven’t read Blood Song but are intending to do so then I suggest you read neither this review or this book because both will contain spoilers in terms of characters and events from the original trilogy.

Secondly, I would say that you could probably read this book without having read the original trilogy.  The reason I say this is because I realise that the feeling of being so far behind can be daunting to some readers and The Wolf’s Call is a new trilogy, even though it is set in an already established world.  Basically, I think you could start at this point but maybe your attachment to the main character might take a little longer to come about. It’s your call at the end of the day because my judgement might be slightly akilter as I have read the original trilogy.

Thirdly, I really enjoyed the whole of the Blood Song trilogy although I know that opinion is very divided over the 2nd and 3rd books and the change in narrative style.  We’re all different at the end of the day and I didn’t mind the changes but I can see why this might have not been welcomed by some readers. The reason I make this point is that TWC does seem to go back to the style favoured by many readers with a return to two POVs and no doubt this will be welcome news to some.

So, all that being said – I really enjoyed the return to the Unified Realm and the exploits of Vaelin Al Sorna.  Anthony Ryan has such a lovely writing style that I find his books incredibly easy to read, the pacing is pretty solid and the conclusion very dramatic – even with the cliffhanger style – just makes me more anxious to pick up No.2

I would say that there is an element of setting out the stall in this book (which is also why I think new readers would be able to jump on board at this point) but I have to admit that Ryan gets things going with a fantastic opener narrated by a new character from the Venerable Kingdom, known as Luralyn.  These opening chapters were amazing, they really pulled me into the story and I was immediately hooked and wanted more.  In fact, if it was any other narrator than Vaelin that we then jump to, then I think I would have found the switch irritating.  Vaelin, he’s a slightly older character with a spattering of grey hair, but he’s still protecting the Realm and going to great lengths to instill law and order.  Until he learns of a new threat from the Venerable Kingdom where a character proclaiming to be a God is uniting the Steel Horde and threatening not only the land of the Merchant Kings but every other kingdom including the Unified Realms.  Immediately at the front of Vaelin’s mind is the guilt he feels having spirited his lady love to that very Kingdom believing it to be the safest haven.  He now feels compelled to seek her out, even though he knows he won’t be welcome, and return her to safety.  Of course, if this new threat lives up to it’s promise will anyone or anywhere be truly safe?

And so Vaelin and a number of other characters embark on a rescue mission that will see them cross the oceans and the Merchant King’s land before they arrive at their final destination on the Iron Steppes – at which point you could be forgiven for thinking ‘shit just got real’.

In terms of the characters, I couldn’t help myself, Vaelin is my favourite, although there’s something different about him in this instalment – which I think may be part of the author’s plan in terms of his character arc – but then again I might just be wishing that to be the case.  It’s difficult to put my finger on it but I guess Vaelin feels a little lacking in something, maybe it’s the loss of his song, maybe it’s guilt over Sherin, or maybe he’s just tired overall (age does have a way of creeping up on you and it seems that there’s always just one more battle to fight) but he feels a little, jaded, or not quite himself somehow, even so – it’s Vaelin – so colour me happy.  Loralyn is an interesting character to get to know.  She’s only a young girl and has already witnessed so much.  She is gifted with the ability to see the future, a gift that she uses to her brother’s advantage.  Her brother, Kehlbrand, is the self appointed God hoping to unite the Stahlhast tribes and cross the seas to continue his war. Kehlbrand is known as the Darkblade and is none too pleased to find the title has been previously bestowed on Vaelin – he means to rectify this making sure in the process that this thief of names is eliminated for good.

In terms of the plot.  This has a very linear feel,  A quest involving leagues of travel and threats along the way before the real showdown begins.  It’s not a new style but it’s tried and tested and works well here with a slightly slower start gradually building as the tension and battles increase in number and intensity.  The battle scenes are excellent and very easy to imagine and this is where Ryan’s writing chops really excel.  There is a slight feeling of similarity to the original books but they’re still gripping to read and action packed.

Criticisms.  Not really a lot of criticisms to be honest.  I think you need to have a little patience to really get into the throes of the action – but I really like the writing so I didn’t find that an issue.  I had a slight feeling that the Jade Princess could have played a more significant role – don’t get me wrong, she is pivotal to the storyline and the twists along the way but I felt a little disappointed that she didn’t have a greater part – but I don’t want to spoil things by elaborating.  I would also welcome a little bit more knowledge about Kehlbrand.  He’s the evil baddie of the piece but I don’t really have any strong feelings for him at the moment.  The only other issue I had related to one particular scene during the battle which was a little bit too much to swallow – but, I’m reading about all sorts of magic so I guess I can suspend my disbelief just that one step further.

Overall I really enjoyed reading The Wolf’s call and any little issues I experienced were really insignificant to my enjoyment. I loved being able to read more from this world and also to have Vaelin very firmly back in the picture – plus with the ending I really can’t wait to see what comes next.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the author, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 4 out of 5 stars

Weekly Wrap Up : 23rd February 2020

Another week speeds by and my consistency in forgetting to listen to my audio books is just amazing!  So, no progress this week on Starsight even though I’ve had plenty of opportunity to listen when doing other things.  I have read and enjoyed The Wolf’s Call and currently reading Crownbreaker.

  1. The Wolf’s Call by Anthony Ryan

thewolf'scall

What I’m reading next week:

  1. Crownbreaker by Sebastien deCastell
  2. Starsight by Brandon Sanderson (audio)
  3. The Memory Wood by Sam Lloyd

Upcoming Reviews:

  1. King of the Road by RS Belcher
  2. Queenlayer by Sebastien DeCastell
  3. The Absinthe Earl by Sharon Lynn Fisher
  4. King of Assassins by RJ Barker
  5. The Wolf’s Call by Sam Lloyd

I’d love to know what you’re reading this week.