A sorceress cataclysm has hit the Range, the final defensive line between the Republic and the immortal Deep Kings.
Tormenting red rains sweep the land, new monstrosities feed on fear in the darkness, and the power of the Nameless, the gods who protect the Republic, lies broken. The Blackwing captains who serve them are being picked off one by one, and even immortals have learned what it means to die. Meanwhile the Deep Kings have only grown stronger, and are poised to deliver a blow that will finally end the war.
Ryhalt Galharrow stands apart from it all.
He has been deeper into the wasteland known as the Misery than ever before. It has grown within him – changed him – but all power comes with a price, and now the ghosts of his past, formerly confined to the Misery, walk with him everywhere.
They will even follow him, and the few surviving Blackwing captains, on one final mission into the darkness.
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All things must end, and the saga of Ryhalt Galharrow comes to a close with one magnificently striking and emotional conclusion. All the events of McDonald’s Raven’s Mark series have brought us to this moment, as the threat of the Deep Kings hovers like a black cloud about to release a cascade of poison rain upon the Misery and beyond. Galharrow stands alone against the storm, persevering in the face of failure and forging ahead when the world is set on relentlessly beating him down. Crowfall is a story underlining the willingness to do whatever must be done, including the sacrifice of every last bit of yourself, for those you love, of finding purpose, even when surrounded by the bleak oppression of guilt, and most importantly, choosing your own side. What begins as a much-appreciated “Previously on Raven’s Mark…”, quickly becomes a harrowing adventure of life and death as we journey towards the final stand, but the Deep Kings don’t realize we bring along with us the pain and wrath of the Son of the Misery. This story is dominated by hunger and betrayal, yet ultimately retribution and redemption reign supreme.
In the six years following the events of Ravencry, time and circumstance have taken a great toll on the characters we’ve become acquainted with, most of whom are but a faint echo of the person they once were. After years of subjecting himself to the lands under the fractured sky, Galharrow is beginning to resemble many of the things he has sworn to protect the Range against. I’ve been vocal about my love of Galharrow since I first dug into Blackwing, and all I can say is that my admiration for him has only grown, regardless of how monstrous he has become. His strength has him barreling towards a seemingly hopeless end, but his iron will to fix his mistakes continues to propel him forward. Valiya and Amaira have both sacrificed much in the name of duty. Tnota is torn between love and loyalty. Dantry continues to sow havoc across the states. Maldon remains comfortable in his role of prickly genius. The Nameless are still gridlocked in their battle with the Deep Kings, who now march under a unified banner. And finally, a mysterious player in this game of fate refuses to admit defeat. We see a lot of familiar faces, some new, and ghosts of the past insist on fighting to fix this broken and threatened world.
McDonald masterfully crafts some of the most intriguing and intelligent landscapes that dig their claws in, unwilling to let go. Crowfall allows us to spend some more time upon the ever-changing sands of the Misery, and we are able to witness its strangeness in a way we couldn’t before. It has always been known that it’s not just a physical place, but also a thing of sentience, which is explored in great detail in this book. The howling sky, blood-thirsty grasses, and shifting dunes, all evidence of Crowfoot’s attack on the Deep Kings; the land is just as haunted and pained as it was when he released the Heart of the Void almost a century prior. We march to Adrogorsk, the melted remains of a once-great city, where Ryhalt Galharrow was born under the battered and broken banner of a silver fist lost in a crimson sea. What better place to fight for the future of mankind than where it all began? While I knew we’d be spending quite a bit of time in these poisoned lands, I was not expecting to venture into the Nameless’ place of power, a world of shattered ice and solitude – a strangeness that seems all too familiar – where the secrets to victory lie buried deep within.
Like the rest of the series, Crowfall is a first person narrative told through the eyes of Galharrow, and it’s blatantly clear how much he has evolved from the beginning of book one to now. There’s a certain poise and maturity radiating from him that we have yet to see, at times oozing with truly tragic undertones – a broken man feeling right at home in a broken world. The prose is beautiful, the sentiment is hard-hitting, the ultimate goal hidden from readers until the explosive final moments. All of the pieces we’ve been collecting over the the series’ 1,000+ pages beautifully come together to reach a remarkable climax where the fate of all hangs in the balance.
Crowfall was one of my most anticipated reads of the year, and I couldn’t ask for a more fitting conclusion to this series, which I absolutely adore. Everything is as it should be. I’ll admit, I’m a little sad I have to say goodbye to Galharrow and crew, and even though all the threads have been perfectly tied up, I can only hope this isn’t my last time visiting the Misery. If you haven’t yet started the Raven’s Mark series, you’re only doing yourself a disservice and should rectify this right away. If you’re already a fan of the series, you’re in for a treat. I highly recommend.