Monday, June 26, 2017

Blackwing


Title: Blackwing
Author: Ed McDonald
Publisher: Gollancz
Publication date: 27th July 2017
Genre: Fantasy
Source: ARC from publisher

Description: Set on the ragged edge of a postapocalyptic frontier, Blackwing is a gritty fantasy debut about a man’s desperate battle to survive his own dark destiny…

Nothing in the Misery lasts…

Under a cracked and wailing sky, the Misery is a vast and blighted expanse, created when the Engine, the most powerful weapon in the world, was unleashed against the immortal Deep Kings. Across the wasteland, teeming with corrupted magic and malevolent wraiths, the Deep Kings and their armies are still watching—and still waiting.

Ryhalt Galharrow is no stranger to the Misery. The bounty hunter journeys to a remote outpost, armed for killing both men and monsters, and searching for a mysterious noblewoman. He finds himself in the middle of a shocking attack by the Deep Kings, one that should not be possible. Only a fearsome show of power from the very woman he is seeking saves him.

Once, long ago, he knew the woman well, and together they stumble onto a web of conspiracy that threatens to unmake everything they hold dear and end the fragile peace the Engine has provided. Galharrow is not ready for the truth about the blood he’s spilled and the gods he’s supposed to serve…

My thoughts: I love a good fantasy novel, and when I heard an excerpt of Blackwing earlier this I knew I had to read it. I'm pleased to say it absolutely lived up to my expectations and hopes! The book begins with Galharrow and a small group of mercenaries travelling through the area known as the Misery, chasing down some criminals. It sets the scene well, as the book takes place along the border of the Misery and this episode introduces some of the creatures that result from the creepy magic that infects the Misery - many humans who go in don't stay human, and if they do, they're constantly under threat from the things that didn't.

From here, the story never slows down. As Galharrow tries to protect a local noblewoman, he discovers that the machine which should be protecting his country from the Deep Kings who live on the other side of the Misery might not be being maintained the way it should. As he tries to uncover the truth, various parties try to keep him quiet.

I loved the little revelations as Galharrow uncovers different pieces of information and tries again and again to fit them together. I really didn't see the end coming the way it did - Ed McDonald's skill in writing it this way is excellent. It's a very grim book in a lot of ways. Galharrow is an alcoholic, the setting is - pardon the pun - miserable, and the baddies get to do a lot of bad things. I also really liked the version of magic in Blackwing: 'spinners' can collect moonlight and channel it into power, often for mundane things like lighting but it can also be thrown in a blast as a weapon.

This is dark, gritty fantasy, and it's been executed perfectly. I was kept in suspense throughout, and couldn't put the book down. Ed McDonald is a great new talent in the fantasy genre, and I already can't wait for his next book. I'd recommend this for fans of Joe Abercrombie or Scott Lynch, but if you're relatively new to fantasy it's also a great book to get stuck in to. Overall, I'm giving this 10 out of 10 - it's one of the best books I've read this year.

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