Review: Blackwing – Ed McDonald

Review: Blackwing – Ed McDonaldBlackwing
by Ed McDonald
Series: Ravens' Mark #1
Publisher: Ace Books
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 360
Source: First to Read

I received this book for free from First to Read in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

My rating: One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Set on the ragged edge of a postapocalyptic frontier, Blackwing is a gritty fantasy debut about a man’s desperate battle to survive his own dark destiny…
Nothing in the Misery lasts…
Under a cracked and wailing sky, the Misery is a vast and blighted expanse, created when the Engine, the most powerful weapon in the world, was unleashed against the immortal Deep Kings. Across the wasteland, teeming with corrupted magic and malevolent wraiths, the Deep Kings and their armies are still watching—and still waiting.
Ryhalt Galharrow is no stranger to the Misery. The bounty hunter journeys to a remote outpost, armed for killing both men and monsters, and searching for a mysterious noblewoman. He finds himself in the middle of a shocking attack by the Deep Kings, one that should not be possible. Only a fearsome show of power from the very woman he is seeking saves him.
Once, long ago, he knew the woman well, and together they stumble onto a web of conspiracy that threatens to unmake everything they hold dear and end the fragile peace the Engine has provided. Galharrow is not ready for the truth about the blood he’s spilled and the gods he’s supposed to serve…

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Nall’s Engine was created by the Nameless and last used a hundred years ago to push the Deep Kings away from Dortmark, creating the magic-warped landscape of the Misery. Legions of Talents toil away spinning phos from moonlight to power the engines, while more powerful magicians, called Spinners, can use the phos as a weapon. The stalemate seems ready to hold for another hundred years until Ryhalt Galharrow is sent to retrieve a Spinner from one of the Stations near the Misery. The woman from his past, however, doesn’t need to be saved – rather, she needs help unveiling a treasonous plot that’s infiltrated farther than anyone could expect.

Wow. Just wow. I usually avoid grimdark because so many books that brand themselves as that seem just wallow in misery and throw in a bit of a plot as an afterthought. I was pleasantly surprised by this book from the first chapter. Yes, there’s the general “life sucks and then you die” background of the book, but there’s also great characters, political plots, and hints of humor. The action is a bit backloaded in the book, but the twisty plot held my interest well enough that I didn’t mind and honestly didn’t even really notice.

It took me a chapter or so to get in to the story, but after that, I was hooked. The magic system is original and fascinating, Ezabeth and Nenn are amazing awesome, and Ryhalt is the perfect mix of flawed hero. The Brides, drudge, and Darlings are creepy-spectacular. This is the first in a series, but it works well as a standalone. Unlike the first in some other series, I felt like the main plot wrapped up to a satisfying conclusion. Definitely recommended to anyone looking for an exciting, enthralling read!

5 out of 5 stars.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review.

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