29 June 2011

Raven’s Shadow by Patricia Briggs

For many years, the city of Colossae was a haven of magical study. As generations of wizards pushed the limits of their abilities, an evil entity was unleashed that could only be contained by the sacrifice of their city. From the ashes of Colossae, the Travelers emerged - roaming the world to ensure that the Stalker would remain imprisoned forever...
Seraph is a Raven mage and among the last of the Travelers. Unwelcome among those who fear magic, the wizard clans have been decimated by the very people they've sworn to protect. But Seraph is spared a similar fate by the ex-soldier Tier - and together they build a life where she is no longer burdened by her people's responsibility.
But now Tier is missing - or dead - and Seraph's reprieve from her duty is over. Using her magic to discover her husband's fate, Seraph realizes the Stalker's prison is weakening - and only she can fulfill her ancestors' oath to protect humanity from destruction...
I will forever be a fan of Patricia Briggs. It’s how she blends together all the critical elements of a story with her flawless writing and lovable characters. Her stories themselves are original and engaging. Her characters come alive and are presented so well that it’s perfect daydreaming material.

When the story first opened, I was confused because Seraph is presented as a child and I was like—Well how are they supposed to get married? But the transition between the years is very well done. I was worried for a moment that I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the Before and After but as I said, very well done.

Raven’s Shadow isn’t set in just Seraph’s point of view. It switches between most of the main characters—Teir, Seraph, and Jes mostly. The mix gave me an insight into the characters that reinforced their accessibility. Seraph’s character, for instance, could come off as cold and distant but since a good portion of the book is in her point of view, I was shown her motives and understood her character. I really enjoyed Seraph’s character especially because she has a lot of fire in her and a quick wit.

The characters in general were presented extremely well. Even the Emperor, who is supposed to be this pompous, partying ingrate. His transition between drunkard and commander was believable. I cheered him all the way.

The world of Raven’s Shadow was excellently crafted. It took me half a dozen chapters to figure out what the heck a Sept was but once I settled into the book, it became clear as well as a bunch of other tiny things that readers have to pick up when they delve into a fantasy novel. I would suspect that politics is something difficult to write about without being complicated and boring, but I was engrossed with the uncovered alliances and seeming insignificant things becoming important.

Patricia Briggs has a flawless storytelling style that gives a clear picture of the story without being so in your face about it. She doesn’t coddle, she doesn’t condescend. She effectively shows the reader what she finds so special about these characters and what they’re going through.

An absolutely thrilling read. I devoured it practically in one sitting.

Book Info:
  • pages – mass market paperback, 334
  • published – August 2004
  • publisher – Ace
  • genre – fantasy
  • received via – library :)
  • rating – 5/5
  • series - Raven Duology
    • Raven's Shadow
    • Raven’s Strike | Review