So I’m a week behind on this review because my wife has had me building things around our house. Although it puts me three books behind on the year, if there was one book I wanted to take my time with in 2019 it was Crowfall by Ed McDonald.
Corwfall is the third (and final?) book in the Raven’s Mark Series. Although I have not done full reviews on Blackwing and Ravencry, those of you who know me personally or follow me on facebook or twitter, know how much I enjoyed the first two books. Blackwing was very good. Ravencry blew my mind.
So when I saw Crowfall on NetGalley, I had to request it.
I did not think I would receive a copy since I’m relatively new to the reviewing scene…
And here we are. On the other side of my most anticipated book of 2019.
So the question remains: How did it hold up?
Well first let’s talk about what Crowfall is about.
Crowfall (and the Raven’s Mark Series so far) follows the journey of Ryhalt Galharrow, ex-sophisticated soldier turned merc turned agent for an ancient maniacal crow wizard. Upon his forearm is a tattooed raven that on occasion rips itself free from his arm to deliver his master’s instructions.
The Misery is a magically corrupted wasteland where Ryhalt finds himself all the time over the course of the books. In fact, in the six years since the end of Ravencry, MFer has just been subsisting on Misery stuff, eating the monsters, and sucking in all that magical filth to right the wrongs of the previous two books.
Become the Anvil, as his arm states.
To make matters worse, Crowfoot (his mystic master and creator of the Misery) has unleashed a new fresh hell on the humans living in the Range in the form of insanity rain.
Imagine acid rain…like LSD rain…that makes you trip balls and die.
On top of that, our old pals the eldritch god-like Deep Kings have tapped into the power of The Sleeper, an even more terrifying and ancient eldritch god….
and raised a spirits-damned Deep Emperor.
Not a great time to be a human.
Galharrow (with the help of his compatriots) works to stave off humanity’s destruction while haunted by the ghosts of his past, the hope of his future, and the turmoil of his present.
Bleak times all around.
So…How did it hold up?
Even with Ravencry right up until the end.
Crowfall’s ending sets it just above Ravencry in my estimation.
Which is quite a feat in my mind.
Because I was SO looking forward to this book, I was prepared to be let down.
I shouldn’t have worried.
McDonald manages to work a substantial amount of worldbuilding into his third book so that a number of the history questions I had were answered. Not all of them. This world feels ancient, and she hides her secrets well. I hope to learn more about her someday.
McDonald’s writing (in Ryhalt’s voice) continues strong throughout, and the philosophical journey the reader takes with Ryhalt over the series is impressive. From cranky man with a deathwish to cranky man with a…lifewish? That’s a thing, right? There is more than enough to convey the story without ever feeling bogged down while painting a grim portrait girded with rays of hope. It’s a large reason I’ll continue coming back to these books in the future. Even when everything seems lost, grim and dark, you believe in Ryhalt. You want him to succeed. He want him to earn his ending.
Spoiler: He does.
Crowfall is a stunning conclusion to the Raven’s Mark trilogy, and for my money the best of the three. McDonald never lets misery leech all of the hope from his audience, and the result is a story that is visceral while also philosophical, unique in setting, and bold in presentation. McDonald never lets his reader sink deeper than his protagonist, and he is always ready to offer a hand through the supporting cast.
Ed McDonald has quickly risen in my list of favorite authors, not only because of his work, but also because he seems a damn fine gentleman. Follow him on Twitter.
I’m currently contemplating a Raven’s Mark tattoo. We’ll see. Crowfoot is a dick.
I’ll leave you with two pictures I thought of while reading…
without context I don’t think they count as spoilers…
The Misery loves company.
5/5 evil crows holding knives
BTW I googled evil crows…I was not disappointed.