April 30, 2016

Queen of Fire by Anthony Ryan

“Anyone who claims they have a genius for war should be regarded as the greatest of fools. For the successful conduct of war is an exercise in the management of folly.” -Anthony RyanQueen of Fire

Blurb: After fighting back from the brink of death, Queen Lyrna is determined to repel the invading Volarian army and regain the independence of the Unified Realm. Except, to accomplish her goals, she must do more than rally her loyal supporters. She must align herself with forces she once found repugnant—those who possess the strange and varied gifts of the Dark—and take the war to her enemy’s doorstep.

Victory rests on the shoulders of Vaelin Al Sorna, now named Battle Lord of the Realm. However, his path is riddled with difficulties. For the Volarian enemy has a new weapon on their side, one that Vaelin must destroy if the Realm is to prevail—a mysterious Ally with the ability to grant unnaturally long life to her servants. And defeating one who cannot be killed is a nearly impossible feat, especially when Vaelin’s blood-song, the mystical power which has made him the epic fighter he is, has gone ominously silent…

Format: Queen of Fire is the third and final book in the Raven's Shadow trilogy. I am reviewing the Audible format of the novel which was 26 hours and 43 minutes in length, narrated by Steven Brand. The novel was originally published in July of 2015 by Ace Fantasy imprint of Penguin books. The novel is in limited 3rd person POV and spans a few separate character story arcs that were familiar from the previous novel Tower Lord. 

Setting: A portion of the story takes place in the familiar Unified Realm as queen Lyrna and her forces seek to fend off the Volarian army and regain control of their capital and people. Many off her people have been shipped off however to the Volarian Empire and she seeks to cross the seas and rid the world of the Volarian Empire once and for all. The setting changes from the war torn familiar to the harsh and brutal differences of the land across the sea. The setting played a key role in setting the mood for the entire novel. The war is a struggle and it is felt in our characters' surroundings with harsh accuracy.  

Characters: Vaelin is once again back as a main character arc in the story. Where Blood Song was Vaelin's story, Queen of Fire focuses more on Reva and Lyrna, who head their own POV arcs throughout the novel. I felt time between the three was divided well and each separate tale delved into the costs of war and it's toll on the three characters. The result was excellent character development. This was surprising to me because the third novel of any series usually expects you to know your characters for who they are and Queen of Fire does a lot to let you see the changes in the characters it presents even in the conclusion of the story. Dialogue between these characters was excellent as ever and Anthony Ryan does a great job making everyone feel and do realistic things. Characters are definitely a strength of this tale. 

Plot: War is hell and Queen of Fire represents that well. Although our main characters are some of the best swordsman in the world, the costs of war aren't lost on them in this tale. Lyrna decides to take unexpected action to the Volarian shores. She gains support through changing the policy's of the crown's rule from her father's tyrannical rule to a more fair and just mindset. As she gains strength, the Empress across the sea proves to be a powerful opponent with deeper resources than Lyrna could have prepared for. While Lyrna and Reva must attack the unsuspecting Volarians, Vaelin is tasked by Lyrna to gather strength and join her for the attack on the Volarian capital. Meanwhile, the mysterious 7th order steps into play to support the Unified Realm and years of mystery come to light. Needless to say, not everything goes according to plan and the invasion quickly becomes a struggle for the survival of the free world.

My Thoughts: Wow. I loved Blood Song for what it was, the tale of a young boy growing under the martial ways of the 6th order to manhood. I then enjoyed Tower Lord for what it was, the severity of the Volarian threat and the development of Vaelin, Reva, Frentus. and Lyrna into even stronger characters. I've been rewarded with the series as I've went along, every scene building into an epic clash with the Volarians and the way our strong characters will deal with it. Now with having read Queen of Fire, I feel very much satisfied with the way that's all played out. It was brutal at times, a struggle, and there is much loss, but I like that sort of thing in a novel. I want a novel that is realistic, honest in its presentation, and free from ridiculousness, and that's what I got. Anthony Ryan is skilled in his craftsmanship and Raven's Shadow will be a series marked by it's excellent story telling for a very long time. I've really enjoyed this series. I liked the way it closed out and I'm sad to see it go. But it was so very excellent. If you've not read Queen of Fire for some reason, you would be doing yourself an injustice not to. This series has quickly become one of my favorites all time and I hope you will enjoy it as much as I have.

About the Author: Anthony Ryan was born in Scotland in 1970 but spent much of his adult life living and working in London. After a long career in the British Civil Service he took up writing full time after the success of his first novel Blood Song, Book One of the Raven’s Shadow trilogy. He has a degree in history, and his interests include art, science and the unending quest for the perfect pint of real ale.

Author's Website: Anthony Ryan's Website
Buy this Book: Queen of Fire on Amazon

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