The Silver Sorceress by Alec Hutson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: The Raveling (Book #2 of 3)
Genre: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy
Pages: 499 pages
Published: 2nd October 2018 by Alec Hutson (Indie)
A remarkable sequel, I really can’t get enough of reading Hutson’s writing.
“No matter where you go in the world, those with a little authority—but no real power—are all the same.”
If it has been a while since you’ve read the first book, do know that Hutson was kind enough to include a detailed recap of the previous book at the beginning. I’m still baffled why this hasn’t become a standard in fantasy series yet. The Silver Sorceress is the second book in The Raveling series by Alec Hutson. The story takes place immediately after what happened at the end of The Crimson Queen. A vision foretold by the Oracle of Lyr shows that the city of Menekar will be visited by a destructive doom in the future. The vision also shows that a silver-haired sorceress has the power to slay the harbinger of the Raveling—an act of cataclysm that destroyed the ancestral homeland of Shan a long time ago. Keilan’s new mission is to find this Silver Sorceress and prevent the arrival of the new Raveling. I’ll begin this review by honestly saying that I loved The Crimson Queen more than The Silver Sorceress, which shouldn’t come as a surprise because The Crimson Queen is one of my favorite fantasy debuts; writing a sequel that lives up to its quality completely is a difficult task. Also, there’s a bit of the infamous second book syndrome in this novel; the story didn’t progress a lot, and the entire book did feel like a preparation for the third book. That said, I had a great time reading this book, and it’s definitely another great installment in the series.
“Not all answers are found in books, Keilan.” “No,” he whispered to himself, too quiet for her to hear, “but even if they don’t have the answer, perhaps they can help me ask the right question.”
With descriptions like architecture made out of human parts and a few atrocities I can’t mention due to spoiler reasons, it’s not an exaggeration to say that The Silver Sorceress is slightly darker in tone compared to its predecessor. However, I can’t deny that it felt comfortable for me to be back in the world of Araen. People who know me know that I don’t usually read two books at the same time, I was in the middle of reading An Echo of Things to Come by James Islington, and despite that book being utterly incredible, I couldn’t wait any longer to start The Silver Sorceress. Not only this installment features less battle scenes, but there also weren’t any intense scenes per se with the exception for the final 10% of the novel. But I can’t help it; the world-building of this world may not be revolutionary for the genre, but the details and multi-cultural world-building implementation accompanied by Hutson’s beautiful prose is what made the series stand out to me. Plus, Hutson continues to discuss the importance of overcoming differences in belief in the pursuit of peace and power that worked very well for the narrative.
“The strong take what they want from the weak. But power unearned by suffering or discipline corrupts the soul.”
This, of course, doesn’t mean that the characters weren’t well-realized. Although I would’ve preferred more pages given to deeper characterizations for all the main characters, Hutson once again achieved a great balance in giving the spotlight to Keilan and the other perspective characters. It was intriguing to see whether Keilan will keep being compassionate or not as he continues to learn sorcery, and seeing the other characters learning to work together despite their differences. Same as the previous book, I enjoyed reading all the chapters.
“Every follower of Ama chooses an Aspect of the Radiant Father to guide their actions. Some choose anger or hate. I do not—the Aspect I try to hold in my heart is compassion. And I think you are the same.”
I would, however, give special recognition to the new main character being introduced in this book: Cho Lin from The Empire of Swords and Flowers. Cho Lin seeks revenge for the death of her father, and her task of bringing honor to her family by wielding The Sword of Cho contained some of the most engrossing chapters in the series for me so far. Remember what I said that Hutson’s prose reminded me of Staveley’s prose, well there’s another similarity now, the abilities and skills Cho Lin gained—Nothing within the Self—from training in the Red Fang mountain were redolent of Kaden’s vaniate—a state of emptiness—in The Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne series. The Sword of Cho and the wrath of the Shan are eager for the total annihilation of The Raveling; evil must not prevail.
“Loyalty and honesty are what you should look for in your friends and servants. The fawning and groveling types might burnish the image of yourself you keep in your head, and that is certainly pleasurable, but in the end it only leaves you more likely to make mistakes.”
Seeing that The Empire of Swords and Flowers are more prominent to the story now, that also means more Asian-inspired elements being infused into the world-building. I loved it, I always enjoy reading Asian-inspired fantasy novels, and Hutson’s series has been filled with it without neglecting Western influences as well. Clothes like Cheongsam, names like Phoenix Throne, Jade Court, and so many other subtle inclusion ranging from cultures, behaviors, to food were wonderfully put. We also get to learn more about sorcery, the kith’ketan, the shadowblades, the Red Fang, and the Raveling. Learning about the lore of the world and how it affects the current predicament just never gets old to me.
“The merchant who first brought them in called them parasols, because their original name is unpronounceable. They’re from Shan. Apparently, in the Empire of Swords and Flowers the noblewomen carry them around to keep the sun from browning their skin.”
I’ve raved about how much I loved Hutson’s prose in my review of The Crimson Queen, and this notion continues here. I don’t need to elaborate further on this, what I said in my review of the previous book applies here again, and Hutson’s writing is hands down what I loved more about reading this series. Seriously, just give this series a read; you’ll see Hutson demonstrates a writing skill that would make so many authors jealous. I have included so many quotes in both my reviews, but believe me, I have highlighted cumulatively fifty passages across the series so far, that’s something I very rarely do, and it’s such a shame I can’t share them all.
“The first thing he noticed was the sky. It was a dull white, like during the coldest days of winter, without a cloud to be seen. But it was not empty. A gash of deep red resembling an open wound spread across the sky, as if the dawn itself had been smeared across the heavens. And from this stain more red was trickling, a lighter shade but still vivid. The sky was bleeding.”
The Raveling is gradually becoming one of my favorite indie series along with Ash and Sand by Richard Nell and Manifest Delusions by Michael R. Fletcher, Hutson just need to nail the landing in the third book now, and it will get that status. The Silver Sorceress is a great sequel that wonderfully sets up all the plotlines to be closed in the final book of the trilogy. I can’t wait to find out how it all concludes; I look forward to reading The Shadow King very soon.
Picture: The Silver Sorceress by John Anthony di Giovanni
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