Weatherwax Report: Blackwing by Ed McDonald

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I was sent this book as an ARC from the author – thank you so much, Ed! I even got a spiffy drawing of a raven 🙂

Plot:

So, there are two ancient entities, the Deep Kings and the Nameless, in the middle of a long cycle of wars that have lasted for ages, the book didn’t go into  specifics about how long it’s been going on, but I would guess for thousands of years. At the end of the book one of the Nameless told the MC that they’ve been waging a war against the Deep Kings since before humans had language/words for the Deep Kings.

A long time ago one of the Nameless used a weapon of catastrophic proportions in a last ditch effort to stop the Deep Kings advances, called the Engine – and it’s the only thing that has kept the Deep Kings at bay for as long as they have.

The result of the Engines blast took out two whole cities and left the land a crater, poisoned, death ridden wasteland. It was so powerful it actually ripped reality and the sky has tears above it that make this strange wailing sound.

Since it’s been a while since the Deep Kings have made an advance, humanity gets sloppy on the border of the Misery, which is the land that was scorched by the weapon. The Deep Kings are rising again and humanity is woefully unprepared for hordes of demon like creatures.

Characters:

  • Captain Ryhalt Galharrow – he’s in his late 30’s or early 40’s and battle hardened alcoholic. I actually really like when characters have some kind of addiction battle, we don’t see that very often in books and for something that’s so prevalent in our culture you’d think that addicts would make more of an appearance in SFF. He’s pretty rough around the edges, he still is in love with his ex from a long time ago, he’s an experienced soldier and warrior and knows how to get shit done for the most part. This is our MC and it’s a single POV book
  • Ezabeth – a super powerful Spinner who’s trying to track down the mysteries of the Engine before it’s too late and the Deep Kings invade. She’s also Galharrow’s ex, and potentially mad. Sometimes Spinners lose their minds later on in life and she’s right on the edge.
  • Tnota – part of Galharrows band, a foreigner with a smile thats hard to wipe off his face
  • Nenn – a merc who’s teamed up with Galharrow super rough with a missing nose and yellowed teeth.

Magic:

There’s a good amount of magic in this series, Spinners have a wide range of abilities from blasting enemies with scorching hot light, or transforming light to create illusions. People who are known as Talents have a weak ability to use magic, and they harvest moonlight by breaking apart white light into strands of multi colored light, it comes with a cost though, people can be scarred or severely disfigured doing that kind of work. Sorcerers are not common but not rare either,  but Wizards are something else. Sorcerers draw in power from outside sources, while Wizards have an innate magical generator and they are vastly more powerful.

Worldbuilding:

There was a good amount of world building in this book, it was different and pretty visual. I imagined something similar to the tears in the universe in the Futurama movies when I was visualizing The Misery.  There’s no map but there’s talk of other countries outside the one they’re fighting in, and talk of sailing across different seas, it was all pretty consistent and not so much as to be overwhelming.

There are a ton of CREEPY fucking monsters in this world, and most of them are original.

  • Brides – almost like a succubus but as she feeds on more people who like, worship her almost, the larger she gets and the more control she has over people.
  • Darlings – almost indistinguishable from real children they can control your mind/body taking over and making you do horrible things, all the while you’re bleeding from the eyes nose and mouth twitching around like a puppet
  • Drudge – they used to be people until the Deep Kings mutate them into monsters, red grey marble smooth skin and missing noses they make up the majority of the dead kings armies.
  • I don’t remember the name of one of the monsters, but they can eat you in your sleep … they have anesthetic in their saliva and they just eat you slowly while you don’t even know it.

Pacing/tone:

I got through the book in a day or so, so the pacing was pretty good – it’s also not a terribly long book, it’s about 380 pages or so. I’m kind of blanking on an appropriate term for the tone, it can have gallows humor but it wasn’t a light or funny book.  It’s a flint lock fantasy mixed with explosions and demons and creepy shit.

Audience:

  • People who prefer single POV
  • People who like monsters
  • People who like other worldly environments
  • People who like high stakes end of the world kind of thing
  • People who don’t mind a lot of cursing, this book isn’t shy about the word fuck
  • People who don’t mind or look for ‘grey’ main characters
  • People who like heavy magic

 

The book will be out Oct 3, and I really encourage people to check it out, it was a lot of fun and very different.

 

 

 

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