Raven's Shadow - A Review

Raven's Shadow
Ace, 352 pages

I just finished reading this over the weekend, and I have to kick myself for not picking this up sooner.

The basic "blurb" really doesn't do this story justice: " The Raven mage Seraph must protect the world from a terror that threatens to reemerge after generations of imprisonment." Sounds like the usual fantasy trope, eh? It's a lot more than that, IMHO.

Ms. Briggs starts the book with Tier, a soldier, riding back to his home after the end of a war. He's tired, he's sick of killing people; rest and a regular, normal life are beckoning. So he stops at a village to rest for the night - except that there's a pyre in the village square. Tier sidesteps all this and enters the inn for a bit of grub and a bed for the night.

Except he interrupts something inside. A young girl, her chin held high, is being auctioned off to some lord...

That girl is Seraph, who is a mage of a certain order. It's probably not highly inventive that there's an order of mages, and that these mages travel around (call Travellers, naturally) who help stomp out the demons that were unleashed a long time ago.

Trouble is, the Travellers are being killed, or burned, left and right, and there aren't a hell of a lot of them left.

What I like about this book were the characters. They're instantly likable, but human, even the one that can shapeshift (but you'll have to read the book to find out who that is!). For instance, Seraph has a tongue on her, and can be a haughty at times. The story moves along at a brisk pace, but slows down in spots so you can catch your breath; sometimes these breaks go on a little too long, almost info-dumpy at times, but these breaks do come into play later in the story.

The problems in this book are wrapped up at the end (and the characters do grow, especially Seraph), but there is a tendril left loose that I'm sure leads into the second book of this duology.

Worth reading. Now I just need to pick up the second book! ETA: I have! Another one into the huge TBR pile.

~Nancy Beck