The worst part about this book was the inside cover copy. That blurb was misleading and is going to piss people off with its bait and switch tactics. I loved the book but fair warning, the inside cover of the hard-cover or back-cover of what I’m assuming will also be the soft-cover was poorly chosen.
That said, its nice to see Gil, Egar and Archeth back in action. Once again, it took too damned long for them all to get into the same place but I enjoyed the journey there so much that I won’t kvetch all that much.
Egar thinks to himself, “Damn, I miss that faggot,” a few too many times for me. I think Morgan can pull that trick once per book because to me it captures what its like to have friends who can give you shit about things that would cause a blood-feud against anyone else. He captures that most of the time but it happens just a little too often.
Archeth really did not have enough to do in this book and it was a shame. She felt under-utilized, as if he couldn’t figure out what to do with her other go back and forth between the emperor and the Kiriath artificial intelligences.
Speaking of which, those Kiriath A.I.’s are the most fun exposition tools I have ever read in a fantasy novel.
Morgan writes unadulterated bad-assery and manages to make it amazing. His violence feels real and comes with a price and his sex feels raw and says something about the characters who are rutting.
All in all, Morgan writes about things that I am a sucker for. He rocks Ringil Eskariath, that reluctant bad-ass who is sick of a unjust world and is ready to cut off some heads to make it better. The way that Egar, Ringil and Archeth all yearn to be together again feels like the same way I yearn to be with my friends and loved ones. He manipulated me, pushed my buttons and I liked it.
It didn’t leave me on a George R.R. Martin-scale cliff-hanger but didn’t exactly deliver the blurb’s promise and I’m not used to that from Morgan. I like that his books are neat finished pieces, even if they are part of a greater whole. I want to be left yearning for the next book because I want to see this trio continue to kick asshole nobles in the teeth, not because a big plot point was left entirely unfinished.
P.S. Someone please make a rocking Ravenfriend to put on my wall. Please. Especially if it comes with a plaque that reads:
“I am Welcomed in the Home of Ravens and Other Scavengers in the Wake of Warriors. I am friend to Carrion Crows and Wolves. I am Carry Me and Kill with Me, and Die with Me Where the Road Ends. I am not the Honeyed Promise of Length of Life in Years to Come. I am the Iron Promise of Never Being a Slave.”
NOTE: Something else was bothering me about this book and it took talking it over with a friend to bring it out of me. There was a vicious gang rape in the beginning of the book and Ringil let it happen because it happened to an enemy. After that, I had real trouble thinking of that character as a protagonist, as cool as he might be, even though he is clearly an anti-hero