Rio Proventus and Turi Rand, novices in the Order of Astara on the island of Trosika, are training with Hali Egmund. Rio is becoming a gifted healer; he can open the door within himself to the Goddess Astara to channel her power. His friend and roommate Turi has not been so successful. Turi’s encounter with a cinnamon-breathed old woman has just begun to lead him away from Astara when their island home is invaded, turning life in Trosika upside down with a shocking speed and ferocity. Rio and Turi find themselves channeling greater powers they could have imagined as they try to save their land and people from brutal devastation.
AC Andrews’ DESCENT OF RAVENS is skillful, splendid storytelling. The plot, pacing and action scenes are outstanding; the world-building is even better. Mythology and mythographers, dialects and maps, gods and followers, political intrigue, historical backstory, dialect, landscape and resources are well-realized, plausible and simultaneously drive and enrich the story. Andrews’ adroit narrative talent extends to his characters, their development, believability and like- or hate-ability. Rio, Philip, Mercy, Geli, Sarina and even minor characters have motives and make choices that move the plot while feeling psychologically and emotionally naturalistic – a satisfying counterpoint to this strange world of pangdragons and the night-cursed. Of all primary characters, Turi Rand is perhaps the most interesting. Turi, as reluctant and committed to the good as any leading character in an epic fantasy, is also a sarcastic pragmatist whose expressions are sometimes startlingly modern. Turi is an unromantic character enmeshed in, and at times appealingly unhooked from, this fantastical story; as such he has the capacity to deepen the novel overall.
It is obligatory to mention that this fantasy includes same-sex romance and nonbinary/transgender characters because these are nonstandard attributes of the genre. It is more critical to clarify that the sweep, breadth and quality of this epic may well appeal to any audience. For decades before Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time to decades past Octavia Butler’s Kindred, there have been first-rate examples of fantastical fiction that feature non-culturally dominant characters. Top-notch world-building, character creation and storytelling are a gift to any friends of the genre.
AC Andrews’ DESCENT OF RAVENS (BEL’S WAR #1) is a near-perfect fantasy featuring superb world-building and excellent storytelling that will be compelling for any audience that enjoys epic fantasy.
~Ellen Graham for IndieReader