cover image The Black Song

The Black Song

Anthony Ryan. Ace, $28 (448p) ISBN 978-0-451-49254-8

Epic fantasy fans will savor Ryan’s second Raven’s Blade novel (after The Wolf’s Call), which offers an action-packed return to the richly imagined Merchant Kingdoms of the Far West. Warrior Vaelin Al Sorna has been infected with a bloodlust that he struggles to control, even as he hopes to unite the forces of the Merchant Realms against an existential threat; Kehlbrand Reyerik, also known as Darkblade and rumored to be a living god, leads a massive army in a ruthless assault that aims at global conquest. To beat back Kehlibrand, Vaelin must first learn to control his bloodlust. He makes his way to the Temple of Spears, a monastery that promises relief from his inner torment if he masters several challenges. Both returning readers and those new to the series will be drawn in by the expert worldbuilding, crackling dialogue, gripping action, and subtle shifts of the political chessboard. Those impatient for George R.R. Martin’s conclusion to A Song of Fire and Ice will find this series a satisfying substitute. (Aug.)