Book Review: Queen of Fire

Book Review: Queen of Fire, by: Anthony Ryan

I give Queen of Fire four out of five stars for a large ending to a wonderful series. Ryan has a clear narrative voice, and is a master at constructing battle scenes. I enjoyed the characters in this series and all the adapted myth’s and intersecting alternative histories portrayed. I leave this series content with the answers provided to the many mysteries that bind the Raven’s Shadow trilogy together.

Blood Song was a story told from a single point of view, with a beautiful plot arch. Tower Lord expanded the mystery’s found in Blood Song and provided more point of views, and a fast paced engrossing story. Hold onto your mind when you start Queen of Fire, and be prepared for information propelled via fire hose. Game of thrones fans would pass out if they were given a sixteenth of the plot work that Ryan revealed in this one book.

It’s not to say I’m one hundred percent happy with the answers given to the many plot questions. I’m merely content. I still want to know where the ancient woman, her husband, and her brother came from. The alien’s, turned demons, turned afterlife power eater, turned creature afraid of hungry things in rocks, was a little much for me. Especially when this was contrasted against the trilogy’s exploration of faith and the afterlife, with cursory looks at real world current and dead spiritual beliefs. This is message fiction with a fractured twist, and it will leave you with less hope than the message fiction of C.S. Lewis.

I like books with lots of characters. I also like books that take me to new places, and have battle scenes. I never thought I would complain about a book giving me too much of any of these things, but Queen of Fire was too much. I think Ryan could have pared or combined these elements, or just written more. Written more, yes I know don’t hit me, this is epic fantasy people, and there were times where I swear I caught sight of evidence that an editor’s blade had hacked at Ryan’s brilliance. The well set pace found in the first two books was very off in this one. Anyway more or less would have improved the strength of this book. After awhile I was thinking, “Another tribe? We’re meeting another northern tribe? Haven’t we already covered all the ancient native tribes of Canada and Alaska?” Or “Another battle in the empire? Will this be a battle where key supporting characters get killed?” Battle, after battle, after battle grinding everybody into submission, but with majority of the named characters walking away alive each time, the dramatic effect of the battle scenes wore off.

In the end I wanted to get drunk with Norte and yell at Ryan because I too was mad that he killed my cat. Overall the series is a great story, and I can’t wait to see what author Anthony Ryan writes next.