Verdict: A fine beginning to a promising fantasy series.
The Prince of Ravens is set in a world run by a powerful and ruthless Empress and her seven children, each holding a talisman granting them the power of a particular creature.
Her seventh and youngest child, given the power of the Raven Talisman over life and death, is the unwitting subject of a prophecy that suggests that killing him during his seventeenth year will guarantee the security of her Empire, while allowing him to survive past that point will destroy it. He survives the first assassination attempt due to the help of a pair of Exiles on a spying mission – people he’s been taught all his life to hate and fear as threats to the security and well-being of the Empire. But as he gets to know them, and as he survives more attempts on his life, attempts set in motion by his own Mother, he starts to question his childhood training.
Will he find peace and a home in exile, or will he betray his new friends to redeem himself with his family? And if he chooses the exiles, can they stand up against the combined weight of his six siblings and their immense powers? What will he have to sacrifice to find his place in the world?
This is an engrossing story set in a well-developed world. The history and background of the Empire unfolds itself beautifully in events and stories told by characters, giving the reader a rich and interesting setting. The characters are thoughtful, intelligent and likable, even as they struggle with their own inner demons. Their personalities, too, deftly and naturally unfold as the story goes on, without too much tedious focus on backstory or explanation. The plot is full of interesting twists and turns, both internal and external, leading the reader through the Prince’s growing understanding and changes of heart. The growth and change in his character is believable and not too sudden – occasionally, in fact, he seems to dither a bit too much, but this is easily explained by the strength of his childhood conditioning. The ending sets the scene for sequels, and leaves plenty of room for further development and expansion as the story goes on.
The editing is occasionally a problem. Among other issues, the author has a tendency to leave out commas, in particular (especially in dialogue – “I don’t think so Leah” rather than “I don’t think so, Leah”), and words are sometimes capitalized mistakenly after quotations. This is a minor annoyance, but it does distract from a very good story.
A fine beginning to a promising fantasy series.
Reviewed by Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader