ARC provided by the publisher—Orbit—in exchange for an honest review.
Ravencaller by David Dalglish
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Series: The Keepers (Book #2 of 3)
Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy
Pages: 576 pages (UK paperback edition)
Published: 19th March 2020 by Orbit (UK) & 17th March 2020 by Orbit (US)
There is no lull moment in Ravencaller, this action-packed sequel brings well-written morally grey characters and bloody macabre into one package.
First of all, I’m usually not a fan of sudden cover changes in the middle of a series, but this is, in my opinion, one of those rare cases where the new cover artist did a better job than the previous artist. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the cover art of Soulkeeper, but I LOVE the cover art of Ravencaller that’s done by Paul Scott Canavan; it looked spectacular, and it’s more fitting for the series. Second, look at the Ravencaller in the cover art, it reflects what’s written in the text of this book and—this is very important—it reminded me of Eileen the Crow from one of my favorite games: Bloodborne! Lastly, I know I mentioned last year in my Soulkeeper review that I’m going to read more of Dalglish’s books, especially his Shadowdance series, I’m ashamed to say that I wasn’t able to achieve this yet. After reading Ravencaller, it’s even more evident that I HAVE to read Dalglish’s Shadowdancer series because this sequel was even better than the first book which I already highly praised.
“Humans have always been reactionary creatures obsessed with the present, ignorant of the past, and fearful of the future.”
Ravencaller is the second book in The Keepers trilogy by David Dalglish. Same as its predecessor, this is another book of high caliber by the author. I can’t say much regarding the details of the plot in order to avoid spoilers except that it takes place shortly after the end of Soulkeeper, and the story deals with the deadly conflicts caused by long-lasting prejudice between human and magical creatures, and the arrival of the Ravencaller as they attempt to hunt Adria Eveson due to her growing power. I think this is an incredible book, although the entire story of the novel takes place in the city of Londheim, Dalglish was able to keep the pacing of the story thoroughly engaging and full of twists and turns. Constricting the story of the book to one location was a great decision, Londheim was supposed to be a place of refuge and safety, but what happened when that single place of supposed solace ended up becoming a place of disaster?
Chaos and mayhem ensued.
“We fear only what history taught us time and time again. It is not we who war against humanity, onyx one. Humanity wars against us, and our very existence.”
Trouble brews non-stop for the characters; from the ravenous epidemic that haunts the night to the horror brought by the invasion of the dragon-sired, there’s no shortage of new danger for the people of Londheim. The second half of the book, in particular, was practically unputdownable for me. The vile deeds of both races—mostly humans—and the politics of the church continually escalate towards a higher level of threats. However, it’s not all death and gore here, resonating themes and character developments played an equally important role in enriching the compelling narrative. The premise of The Keepers allows Dalglish to successfully incorporate the dreadful nature of humanity in the face of the unknown into his storytelling. For example, even if monsters are virtuous, it will be more likely that humans won’t cooperate and will always seek a way to exact their self-righteousness in the name of their own safety and justice.
“Is one lapinkin the same as all lapinkin? Is one human the same as all humans? You are not of one mind. Why do you presume us to be?”
The themes and the narrative were then effectively extended by the great characterizations and their respective developments. The moral compass of the main characters of this series has become so much more complex and morally grey than before. In a good way, I was stunned by some of the actions of the protagonists of this series. Ravencaller employed more perspective characters to follow, and honestly speaking, seeing the story unfolds from several perspectives of different oppositions helps enlarged the complexity and immersive capability of the plot; Dierk and Evelyn are two new characters with intriguing backgrounds and character developments that I enjoyed reading. Whether I agree or not with the character’s actions, I found myself engrossed by everyone’s POV chapters. I personally think that it’s intriguing that out of all the characters in the series, the characters that ended up being the most kind-hearted are the monsters: Tesmarie, Cannac, and Puffy. (And hey, Puffy—my beloved firekin—has one POV chapter!) Dalglish writes flawed characters with believable motivations that made me question the nature of good and evil; Jacaranda, Dierk, and Adria, in particular, did awful things during their storylines, but I can’t help but feel compelled to find out what will happen next.
“The world we live in is not simple…It is not black and white and confined to a flat page scrawled upon by the scholars. You ask about an act committed in a singular moment in time. The context of that moment must be taken into account. Can the Sisters love a person who wields their power into a curse? Absolutely. Might they also hate or condemn a person for the same act? Without question.”
I’ve talked about the characters and the themes, but when it comes down to it, Ravencaller is more action-oriented compared to its predecessor. The characterizations already established in Soulkeeper made Dalglish’s action sequences glistened more. So far, I’ve read only two books by Dalglish, and I have to say that the combination of his characterizations and violent action sequences are the recipe that inclines me to keep on reading his books, and hopefully, I will be able to devour Shadowdance series as soon as I can. I heard from my friend, Mihir, that Shadowdance is Dalglish’s best series so far, and that sounds crazy because I loved the ones I’ve read in Soulkeeper and Ravencaller very much already. The actions are brutal, gory, grotesque, and most importantly, the unstoppable whirlwind of power, magic, and steel was gripping. It’s also good to see that Dalglish has significantly decrease his habit to use the word “tremendous” as a magnifier.
“The sound of metal hitting metal rang out a steady song. In it she heard lyrics, and they spoke to her impending defeat.”
I don’t think I have any issues with my experience of reading Ravencaller. Frankly, if I have to be nitpicky, I would probably settle with saying that the “gigantic dragon” plotline introduced in the first book hasn’t moved forward as much as I hoped. However, it’s not a big deal, and I was entertained completely by every page of this novel. Ravencaller is a pulse-pounding and extensively absorbing sequel. With this book, it’s crystal clear that Dalglish has prepared a lot of set pieces to be knocked down in the final book of the trilogy. Seriously, the final pages of this book prophesize utterly intense confrontations and an explosive final battle to come, and I may have slightly screamed internally when I read the final sentence of the book; the volume of the internal screaming is up to you to imagine. Well done, Dalglish. I look forward to seeing how it all concludes!
“This life we live, these choices we make, become everything. Kindness shown to a stranger echoes throughout eternity. The love we feel, and the love we give to another, will linger unchanging in a cosmic memory.”
Official release date: 19th March 2020 (UK) and 17th March 2020 (US)
The quotes in this review were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
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