Blackwing – Ed McDonald
Review by: Noelle Nichols
I knew I was going to be in for a treat after I read these lines: “Tnota raised the glass eyepiece towards the skies the colour of a week-old bruise.”
It gets better.
“Dirty golds, hints of green, torn purples and ugly blood browns merged together, as easel of ruptured fluids and broken capillaries.”
Those two lines perfectly set the tone for this book. It is gritty. There is language. And the main character turns to drink to ease the pain of living.
I love every page of this book. In fact, it’s my favorite book I’ve read this year.
A lot of books have trouble balancing a very detailed world with the story. This book was not one of those. Immediately you know that this world is very rich and much, much darker than the world we live in. There’s a lot of information thrown at you, but I found myself gobbling up the details of the phos magic and the misery that ruptured the sky hangs like a gruesome wound across the sky.
The basic non-spoiler plot revolves around Rhyalt Galharrow who is the leader the Blackwings. More or less a bounty hunter who deals with the refuse of society, taking on cases and “solving them” for the greater good, all the while trying to just survive his day to day life. But, of course, ghosts, or maybe I should say birds, come back to haunt him, and it’s up to Rhyalt to dredge up the strength to protect his city from gods who can’t be bothered to.
It follows Rhyalt’s story for the entire book, with tidbits coming up here and there from his interaction with old acquaintances, enemies and lovers. The MC reminds me a little of Geralt from the Witcher. Just in the general sense that he’s a hardened soldier-type, but cares more for his comrades and town than most people, and they’ve both gone through things that most normal people would never have been able to come through.
Perhaps the best part aside from the world-building is Rhyalt’s relationship with his comrades—many of whom have been with him for most his life. If you like brotherhoods and the comradery that comes with going into hell and back with someone, you will definitely enjoy this. I know I did.
The writing, if you haven’t guessed from the above quotes, is colorful, distinct and captivating. Not colorful as in the language, but the way the world is written in a very unusual way that perfectly paints a picture. I’m not one for flowery language, but this book gives details when needed, and says what is necessary, always making sure to keep you very grounded in the world. It took me a little while to get used to the fragmented sentences in the narrative, but once I got used to it, I began expecting it and enjoying the little breaks away from typical narration. As a writer, and a reader, I had to marvel over the mastery of deep POV and the ability to completely make me forget all sense of time. It’s what makes this book such a fantastic read.
There’s so much more to this book than what I can say in this review. Honestly, I barely even scratched the surface of this book, and I think it’s better for you to discover the rest of it yourself. It’s really a book that’s best to leave an open mind and let the author carry you away into the world.
I can’t thank Ed McDonald enough for the adventure he’s created.