Raven's Shadow by Patricia Briggs
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
It's clear that Patricia Briggs can work the same magic for traditional fantasy that she does with her urban fantasy and werewolf stories for this reader. I loved this story. I must admit that there were parts that were slower and harder to read, and that's due to the intricacies of the worldbuilding (keep in mind, I don't read a lot of heavy-duty, traditional heroic fantasy--so keep the urge to sneer under wraps if you've read a lot of that and consider this book child's play). Having said that, I thought the idea of the different orders of magic really interesting. I loved how it all tied together and related very personally to Seraph, and the family she had with Tier. And, I like that she kept the story focused on the characters and their journey, and not on the actual magical aspects. The magic was part of who they were, and it affected the non-magic people who lived in the world of this book. I liked the messages about prejudice, and how some people are dismissed and marginalized, but they are the people who are capable of really doing something worthwhile in the world.
Seraph is not the type of heroine who's in touch with her feelings and bright and bouncy, emotionally open. I didn't mind that. I liked that she was a to-the-point, contained, composed, but deeply feeling person. Because of the dangerous nature of her magic, she had to keep her composure. And it was clear that she did care about others, and loved her children and her husband, Tier, very deeply.
Tier was a great hero. I loved him from the first page. He's so humane. Even years as a soldier, seeing the worst, didn't change that about him. He's a born leader, not through brute force, but an intrinsic charisma and his being a good person that you wanted to like. For all that, he's formidable and strong. He's the kind of hero I go ga-ga over.
Tier and Seraph had good chemistry. Even though this isn't a romance novel, they have a great love, and I was hoping that things would work out for each other. After twenty years, there was still passion, and they knew each other so well, and cared for each other. Their love was a steadfast thing that empowered them, even if they didn't say the words to each other.
Tier and Seraph's kids: Jes, Lehr, and Rinnie, all play important roles. I loved all of them. But my favorite, hands down, was Jes. He managed to be menacing and dangerous (in a very appealing way), but sweet, at the same time. His gift (also could be a curse) was very fascinating to me. I was hoping that we'd see a lot of him. And I liked the fact that he found a connection with a woman who wasn't scared of him, like so many others were. Jes, Lehr and Rinnie's gifts really came in handy in this story. It was interesting to see how they came to realize what they were, and how they embraced them. Although, they struggled with their natures as magically-gifted people.
Raven's Shadow may not appeal to some fans of the Mercy Thompson books. It's pure fantasy. But, the things that I love about Patricia Briggs' writing are there for me to enjoy. Her writing has a simple, yet elegant beauty. She tells a story that is full of the human element. When I read her stories, I get so captivated in seeing how her characters unfold, and how they meet the issues that life gives them. This book was no different. I like how she gives you characters that have flaws and troubles, and you end up getting heavily invested in their stories, hoping for the best for them. And, she's so good at writing about magic, and a good adventure yarn, to go with it.
When I was a kid, I devoured all the fantasy I could find in the library. But I fell out of reading fantasy for a long time. I've recently gotten back into reading it. This was a good start. It's focused on the characters, but it has the traditional heroic fantasy elements. And in Patricia Briggs' hands, it's very successful. I'd say give it a try, if you like the Mercy Thompson books. If things seem to move slowly at times, hang in there. I think you'll enjoy the end efforts. Or, at least I did. I look forward to reading Raven's Strike, the next book in this set.
View all my reviews >>