Tower Lord: Book 2 of Raven's Shadow by Anthony Ryan

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Tower Lord: Book 2 of Raven's Shadow by Anthony Ryan

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Category: Fantasy
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Ani Johnson
Reviewed by Ani Johnson
Summary: The second and much anticipated volume in the epic Raven's Shadow series is here as we witness heroes old and new hurtle towards their fates. Is it as good as Blood Song? Opinion varies but for me within these pages lurks much to love and much to anticipate.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 624 Date: July 2014
Publisher: Orbit
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0356502441

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Reva, young adherent to the True World Faith, has a mission: murdering Lord Vaelin Al Sorna. Frentis (one time Sixth Order Brother to Vaelin) also has murder on his mind but can't help it as he works through the deathly wish-list of the mysterious woman who binds his will. Lyrna's brother Malcius now rules as King of the Unified Realm and she's happy to remain princess. However someone else thinks differently; she's summoned to a meeting that will prepare her for an uncertain future. Meanwhile the greatest threat the Realm has ever known advances. Friend or foe? The difference may be indiscernible but differentiating means survival.

British author Anthony Ryan is back with one of the most anticipated epic fantasy sequels this year. Continuing from the exemplary Blood Song Lord Vaelin Al Sorna is finally free, dreaming of the quiet life that never quite happens. Indeed, having emerged from five years imprisonment with only pain and his gift (the eponymous blood song) to keep him company, he discovers that not a lot has changed. Violence, hatred and the need to save the Realm still exist and will continue to pull him in to the conflict.

One thing that has changed from last time is the format. It's gone from being Vaelin's viewpoint to him sharing with three other alternating characters. There are rumblings among fantasy fandom that Anthony is copying the Game of Thrones path suggesting the book isn't as good as the first instalment for this reason. I have a problem with this diagnosis. Firstly, fantasy novels have been alternating multiple views since long before a certain series hit our shelves and screens. (I offer as Exhibit 1 the Lord of the Rings trilogy). Secondly this formula wouldn't, on its own, affect a book's quality. (I offer as Exhibit 2 the Lord of the Rings trilogy.)

Tower Lord is perhaps not as stupendously brilliant as Blood Song. Occasionally, Anthony takes a meander and Vaelin fans seem to miss his constant presence. However it's taught me that Anthony's 'not as stupendously brilliant' is a lot better than many writers' best. Ergo, personally, I see nothing much to complain about. Let's take the four central characters for instance.

Vaelin shares the stage with the troubled and marionetted Frentis, Princess Lyrna making her journey of a lifetime and new girl Reva, the deadly religious zealot who's confronted by more than just weaponry.

Lyrna develops before our eyes as she turns from merely feisty into a manipulative, resourceful force to be reckoned with. Meanwhile Frentis has the clever storyline as we discover the purpose behind his inadvertent killing spree and quake as soon as we realise connotations. Vaelin? Well, he may not be around as much but he's pretty bloody while he's here. The blood goes with the gift as he learns more about the ghastly cost that its development brings. And so on to a marvellous character number four…

Yes, for me the eye opener this time out is Reva. On the publisher's website there's an interview in which Anthony explains that good fantasy writing means understanding the effects of historical decisions on governance and economics. (Indeed, these authors seem to take our fantasy fiction avarice very seriously!) During the Q&A he doesn't mention that he also knows a great deal about psychology but Reva is the proof.

She comes to dispose of our favourite perceived heretic but when Reva gets to know Al Sorna it ceases to be as easy. She becomes one whose beliefs crumble before our eyes. (She also has a really cool uncle!)

Tower Lord is certainly a second in series that has a purpose which it fulfils more than adequately (and superlatively in the case of the extended build up to the climax) as it answers questions from the past and poses more for Book 3.

Besides, we know that fantasy-fict world will always judge a series' greatness as a retrospective whole rather focusing on one apparently less-strong book. As a matter of fact, I think I can even offer you an Exhibit 3 for this… all together now… The Lord of the Rings trilogy! Having a weaker book in its midst didn’t stop it from becoming one of the most highly respected series of all time and I predict similar things for Mr Ryan.

Thank you so much, Orbit, for providing us with a copy for review.

Further Reading: Before starting this you should read the series debut as you’d miss so much otherwise. If these two novels appeal, then we more than eagerly point you in the direction of Master of War by David Gilman.

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Buy Tower Lord: Book 2 of Raven's Shadow by Anthony Ryan at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Tower Lord: Book 2 of Raven's Shadow by Anthony Ryan at


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