Book Review: The Wolf's Call by Anthony Ryan

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Title: The Wolf's Call
Author: Anthony Ryan
Series: Raven's Blade #1
Publication Date: 25th July 2019

Synopsis: "Vaelin Al Sorna is a living legend. It was his leadership that overthrew empires and his sacrifice that saved the Unified Realm from destruction. Now he lives a quiet life, his days of warfare behind him.

Yet whispers have spread across the sea of an army called the Steel Horde, led by a man who thinks himself a god. When Vaelin learns that Sherin, the woman he lost long ago, has fallen into the Horde's grasp, he resolves to confront this powerful new threat.

To this end, he travels to the realms of the Merchant Kings - a strange land ruled by honour and intrigue. And as the drums of war echo across kingdoms riven by conflict, Vaelin learns that there are some battles even he cannot hope to win."

My thoughts: This one took me by surprise, I'll admit. I was a bit concerned going in that it was going to be somewhat full of toxic masculinity and perhaps leaning too far into grimdark for my liking, but I wanted to give it a go and see. Well, it was a little grimdark, and there was that sort of hovering shadow of toxic masculinity, but Ryan has written an awesome tale here that I just loved every minute of reading - even when I was dreading what was going to happen next.

The female characters are really strong and complex, and many of the male characters defer to women more than to men. The toxic masculinity that could be present here is mostly banished - though I would have appreciated a little more of the female characters, that was only a small quibble, and I mostly found the balance to be pretty wonderful. The tale follows Vaelin Al Sorna, who I've come to know has another trilogy of books previously written by Anthony Ryan (you better believe I have jumped right into those since reading this), and I didn't really feel like I was lost when it came to what was happening - everyone and everything was explained at least a little and I don't think I suffered too much from not having read the first trilogy.

The tale spans a decent amount of time and a long journey across countries. It introduces multiple characters, different religions, different ways of being, and so many different personalities, and it all blends together so beautifully. The way the book was ended left me eager for the next book, but also feeling satisfied with how the first book was wrapped up. I think I was just really in the mood for this book, and I started to read it at just the right time. I loved many of the characters, particularly Vaelin himself, and the action was excellent whilst also leaving opportunities for downtime, recovery, relationships to be made and explored, and conversations to be had. 

In short, the pacing was great, the characters more so, and the world that Ryan has continued to write in here is fantastic. Definitely recommend if you're into this kind of 'battle-hardened warrior goes on journey' tale.

[I received a review copy of this book from Hachette in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!!]

A favourite line from the book: 'The arrow slammed into the trunk of a pine an inch from his head. Vaelin Al Sorna stared at the fletching as it vibrated before his eyes, feeling a sting on his nose and a trickle of blood left by the shaft's barbed head. He hadn't heard the archer who loosed the arrow, nor had he heard the betraying creak of string and stave.'

You would like this book if: You enjoy fantasy with a bit of a grimdark element; you like your warrior characters with intense pasts, some care for the present, and excellent battle skills.

Tea to drink while reading this book: A nice jasmine green tea would be nice, to keep you relaxed during battle scenes.

Rating:  8.5/10

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