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Queen of Fire by Anthony Ryan

Queen of Fire (2015)

by Anthony Ryan

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Showing 5 of 5
The final book of the Raven's Shadow trilogy, Queen of Fire, is non-stop action from beginning to end. You can feel the arc of the book and the arc of the trilogy moving forward, and suddenly you are introduced to to a couple of new characters and given their full history - which breaks the flow and takes 20 minutes and is largely unnecessary. Now, I am as big of a fan of world building as the next fellow, but all things in their place.
THis book builds and builds and builds right up until the last bit, despite those couple of lulls for character building. The finale happens immediately before the end of the book, wasting no time on wrap up and giving you just what you need to smile and murmur a silent ah-hah.
I don't think this is a spoiler, but if you are super-sensitive to such things, skip teh rest. :) At some point, Valin meets and is joined by a group of warriors called "Centaurs". Dear everyone who writes books, don't do this. I spent chapters trying to figure out if the Centaurs were the mythical half-human-half-horse or just a name given to a group. Now, I know that the centaurs of mythology were named for their town of origin, and means the "hundred bulls". If there were such a community, or the warriors had number 100, sure, call them centaurs. But dammit, there is enough going on in the books that no of us need to spend so much time being confused by a group name, especally when it is the only such name. ( )
  Eric.Cone | Sep 28, 2017 |

I don't get it; what's the big kerfuffle? That Ryan pulled too many threads together at the end? Or that he didn't? That he didn't kill enough of our favorite characters? Or he killed too many? That the final bit between good and evil was too short? That he didn't bring back all of those almost-forgotten characters, in the end?

Piffle. This book shows precisely what his intentions were with the series. He gave us his thesis - what kind of magic was available to what types of people and where they got it from and why it was difficult for some to comprehend and others to master, as well as the ineffable fact that war just sucks. I'd say he did exactly what he intended, and if folks are upset because of the answers to those questions above, maybe they are not giving him the credit he deserves.

Ryan crafted a trilogy that had most of us hanging on his every word. How long has it been since you read fantasy that pulled you in to this degree, for any of the three books, but even for the third book if you liked that least? If you say Martin or Sanderson or even Rothfuss, then that's saying something. ( )
  khage | Jan 11, 2017 |
Another great read from an excellent author, the world building and character building is superb, great POV from throughout the three books on all the characters.
PS: if you like short stories this is not for you, it's approx 2000 pages in the three books, but saying that well worth the time to read all three.
( )
  Deryk_Allan | Dec 23, 2016 |
See the full review @ Book Frivolity ( )
  BookFrivolity | Apr 23, 2016 |
This highly anticipated novel is the final volume of Anthony Ryan’s epic Raven’s Shadow trilogy, so be aware this review may contain spoilers for the first two books of the series if you have not caught up yet. It would be impossible to talk about Queen of Fire without at least referencing some of the events in the previous book, and not just because it picks up directly where Tower Lord left off (and follows in the same vein). The truth is, so much of what stood out were the characters and their growth over the course of the trilogy; to praise (and critique) this book I would have to give the nod to the first two as well.

We learn at the beginning of Queen of Fire that Queen Lyrna, who was brutally attacked and burned at the end of Tower Lord has been healed by the very same forces she used to mistrust, and now seeks to ally with them to meet the invading Volarian army head on. She is determined to fight for the independence of the Unified Realm, but to do so she must first raise an army. Meanwhile, the Tower Lord Vaelin Al Sorna, now also called Battle Lord of the Realm, is taking it upon himself to confront the mysterious Ally and an enemy who must be defeated if the Queen’s efforts are to have a chance. On the way, Vaelin rallies other factions to their side, their support invaluable now that the power of his bloodsong seems to have abandoned him.

Other prominent characters include Frentis, whose traumatizing plight in the last novel made me wonder how he would come back from the consequences of his actions, even though so many of them were not his own while his mind was being controlled. Reva also starts her climb to the top by demonstrating her strength and incredible battle prowess. And finally, an unexpected perspective comes in the form of Alucius Al Hestian who adds tension to the overall arc by having to make some very difficult decisions.

First, the good: Like I said, this is a fitting end for a lot of characters who joined in for this epic journey. Characters like Lyrna, Frentis and Reva have all seen tremendous development since they made their respective appearances, and each had their personal obstacles to overcome. It fills me with much satisfaction to see everything come together in this concluding volume.

I also liked the many new places Anthony Ryan took us in Queen of Fire, as well as the fascinating new people we get to meet. The wolf people were especially great, since I always find it a treat to read about fictional cultures inspired by shamanistic traditions. There were also some amazing moments of characters doing battle on the high seas, which wasn’t a surprise given my fondness for maritime fantasy. In addition, there was the minor element of invention and the enthusiasm of a particular character for tinkering, creating new and improved machines of war – this I loved, even if it did only make up a relatively small part of the story. This is a huge tome of a novel after all, and there is a lot packed in it, much of which I thoroughly enjoyed.

There were some stumbling blocks, however. The first is that the story is admittedly on the slow side to take off, with a significant portion of “critical” scenes happening in the second half of the novel. That means I felt that the first 300 or so pages were mostly given to establishing the basis for the finale at the end, which is a bit much (it’s such a lengthy book, after all). Fortunately, the pacing improves by leaps and bounds after the story finds its stride.

I also think that those who were disappointed with certain aspects of Tower Lord might experience the same snags in Queen of Fire. The two books are stylistically similar, both featuring multiple POVs and readers who had wanted more Vaelin in book two will probably not see a marked change here. Vaelin Al Sorna, who won me over in Blood Song, does not really feel like the main protagonist to me anymore, but I find myself okay with that because he is still an important presence. I’m actually regretting more the fact that folks like Caenis and Nortah didn’t show up as much. Clearly, the story’s scope has become much bigger (a good thing) so the result is plenty of other characters sharing the pages with him now that I’ve come to connect with.

But basically, if you were expecting Vaelin to dominate his share of screentime in this book again, I’m afraid you just won’t get that. I do understand the sentiment, though. Speaking for myself, Blood Song still remains my favorite of the trilogy, because it was such a detailed exploration into Vaelin’s character. Of course, it certainly helped that I’m such a huge fan of the warrior school trope chronicling a boy’s rise to become the greatest fighter the world has ever known, complete with a relentless training regime and harsh instructors.

But while Queen of Fire didn’t quite reach the heights that Blood Song or even Tower Lord did for me, it’s nevertheless a good book with undeniably awesome conclusion. I would recommend the series as a whole and if you’ve been following along with the trilogy as the books come out, this is an ending you likely wouldn’t want to miss. ( )
  stefferoo | Jul 19, 2015 |
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"Vaelin Al Sorna must help his queen reclaim her Realm. Only his enemy has a dangerous new collaborator, one with powers darker than Vaelin has ever encountered... "The Ally is there, but only ever as a shadow, unexplained catastrophe or murder committed at the behest of a dark and vengeful spirit. Sorting truth from myth is often a fruitless task." After fighting back from the brink of death, Queen Lyrna is determined to repel the invading Volarian army and regain the independence of the Unified Realm. Except, to accomplish her goals, she must do more than rally her loyal supporters. She must align herself with forces she once found repugnant--those who possess the strange and varied gifts of the Dark--and take the war to her enemy's doorstep. Victory rests on the shoulders of Vaelin Al Sorna, now named Battle Lord of the Realm. However, his path is riddled with difficulties. For the Volarians have a new weapon on their side, one that Vaelin must destroy if the Realm is to prevail: a mysterious Ally with the ability to grant unnaturally long life to his servants. And defeating one who cannot be killed is a nearly impossible challenge, especially when Vaelin's blood-song, the mystical power that has made him the epic fighter he is, has gone ominously silent"--Provided by publisher.… (more)

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