ARC provided by the publisher—Ace Books—in exchange for an honest review
The Wolf’s Call is Anthony Ryan’s best work since the release of his incredible debut.
First of all, because a lot of people have asked me on this matter, do not read this book if you haven’t read the first trilogy. Although technically you can understand the main story in this book, it will be impossible to understand the depth of the characters’ background and recollections of their past if you haven’t read the Raven’s Shadow trilogy. In my opinion, one of the greatest parts about the book lies in Vaelin’s and the other characters’ reminiscences of their bittersweet pasts and how war has harshly affected them; the events being recalled will definitely lose their emotional weight if you jump into this with no knowledge of the previous trilogy. Reading The Wolf’s Call without reading Raven’s Shadow trilogy is equivalent to reading Robin Hobb’s Tawny Man trilogy without reading her Farseer Trilogy or reading Pierce Brown’s Iron Gold without reading his Red Rising trilogy first. At the very least, if you’re really pressed on time and just want to dive into this ASAP, make sure you read Blood Song and Tower Lord; these two are must reads if you want to fully immerse yourself in this book, and then maybe read a summary of Queen of Fire on the net.
“An old love, born in youth, but now stained by bitterness and regret. The wounds left by betrayal never truly heal.”
The Wolf’s Call is the first book in Anthony Ryan’s Raven’s Blade duology. The story takes place roughly ten years after the end of Blood Song and for almost the entirety of the book, the setting of the book is not in the Unified Realm but in the previously unexplored Venerable Kingdom to the west. I’m super glad for this change; not only I’m feeling the fatigue of reading about Vaelin in the Realm’s Northen Reaches. I also prefer reading the continuation to Vaelin’s story in the familiar two POV’s narrative we had in Blood Song rather than the multi-POV we get in Tower Lord & Queen of Fire. In a way, The Wolf’s Call feels more like a direct sequel to Blood Song in terms of plot, characters, and narration than both Tower Lord and Queen of Fire. This is just my opinion, but I personally believe that Anthony Ryan is at his best when he focuses his storytelling one or two main character’s perspectives rather than multi-POV. This was proven in Blood Song, A Pilgrimage of Swords, and from what I’ve heard, in Many Are the Dead too.
“A life of loss and grief will make even the kindest soul close his heart to the divine,”
Just like in Blood Song, Vaelin returns as the singular main perspective character in this book. The other POV belongs to a completely new character—Luralyn—and she replaced Verniers as the interlude starter. I simply loved how well-written these two POV characters were. Luralyn’s diary/chapters have some of Ryan’s best prose included in them, and I’ve read all his full-length fantasy novels, so I feel confident saying that. Plus, her perspective offers insight into Kehlbrand’s—the new villain of the novel—character and also the Stahlhast’s culture superbly. As for Vaelin, I don’t think I need to elaborate further on how much I disliked Vaelin’s POV in Tower Lord/Queen of Fire; to sum it up efficiently, I truly feel like Vaelin’s POV in The Wolf’s Call sounds similar to Vaelin in Blood Song, which I absolutely loved reading. If you find yourself disappointed by Vaelin’s character development post Blood Song, I believe that The Wolf’s Call has the potential to bring back your love towards the character. Without giving any spoilers, we also get to see returning characters from the previous trilogy, including the one that’s been missing ever since Blood Song ended. I simply love the new characters more than Lyrna or Reva. It’s not only the protagonists that are better; I also think that Kehlbrand was also so much more interesting as a villain than the main villain featured in Raven’s Shadow.
“Mercy requires strength, compassion demands courage and wisdom compels truth.”
Admittedly, the structure of the final battle felt a bit repetitive as it was another siege battle just like the climactic scenes featured in both Blood Song and Tower Lord. However, despite the story’s similar structure, I found the battle against the Steel Horde to be utterly engaging. In my opinion, the climax scene in this book was comprised of Anthony Ryan’s finest war scenes so far. It feels great to be invested in the Vaelin’s journey again, and seeing him and his companions struggle against their new opponent was a delight. War takes more than it gives and blind faith results in destruction; I immensely enjoyed reading Ryan’s depiction on the effect of war and deadly faith.
“My power amounts to knowledge and skill acquired over many years of study and practice. Heaven had nothing to do with it.”
The Wolf’s Call delivers a fantastic storytelling tone that’s attuned to the one sang so brilliantly in Blood Song. Vaelin’s tale continues in an incredibly engaging and evocative fashion; the first installment in Raven’s Blade duology cuts deep to the heart with its bittersweet recollections that are enhanced with deftly written prose. Judging from how much Ryan has improved as an author and how the ending made me truly wish that the next book was available for me to binge read immediately; there’s a very strong chance that Ryan will conclude Vaelin’s story satisfyingly in the next and final installment. Highly recommended for readers who loved Blood Song.
Official release date: July 25th, 2019 (UK) and July 23rd, 2019 (US)
The quotes in this review were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.