Queen of Fire: A Raven’s Shadow Novel
Queen of Fire is the last book in the Ravens Shadow series, and it was a bit of a letdown. Blood Song was a great book told from the points of view of Vaelin Al Sorna and the chronicler Verniers Alishe Someren with action, drama, and depth in characters. For Tower Lord Anthony Ryan relegates Vaelin and Verniers to supporting characters. They both wind up playing crucial rules but their stories are given short shrift by the inclusion of several other characters. Throughout Blood Song there is an undercurrent regarding prophecy and the role to be played by Vaelin in an unknown future conflict. This tone is continued in both Tower Lord and Queen of Fire but for whatever reason Ryan decides to give Vaelin fewer and fewer pages.
An Argument could be made that all of these shifting points of view are necessary to get a more complete picture of the overall story line. Unfortunately the precedent set by Blood Song was for a predominately one point of view narrative. It was a good formula that allowed the reader to uncover the story along with Vaelin. With the increase in the cast of characters there was an increase in the flow of information but no corresponding clarification. As the story progresses there are more clues and bits of prophecy regarding the critical role that Vaelin will play in the final conflict, but it is all overshadowed by having to slog through all the other stories. Every revelation and plot twist that should be a ground shaking event is merely a footnote thanks to the inclusion of all the differing points of view.
With all of the story packed into Queen of Fire it still left the impression that there was a book missing between it and Tower Lord. There were numerous instances where, especially with the personal relationships, it felt as though big chunks of story were missing. An intimate moment between two characters doesn’t quite work when you have no background to frame the relationship. Ryan should have spent the time to build these various relationships or just cut them out altogether. Personally I would have preferred it if he had cut the bloat, but what’s done is done. Ultimately The Ravens Shadow is a flawed series, but I hope Anthony Ryan learns from the experience of putting out these books and comes back with something truly magnificent.