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Summary

The republic faces annihilation, despite the vigilance of Galharrow's Blackwings. When a raven tattoo rips itself from his arm to deliver a desperate message, Galharrow and a mysterious noblewoman must investigate a long-dead sorcerer's legacy. But there is a conspiracy within the citadel: traitors, flesh eaters and the ghosts of the wastelands seek to destroy them, but if they cannot solve the ancient wizard's paradox, the Deep Kings will walk the earth again, and all will be lost. 

The war with the Eastern Empire ended in stalemate some 80 years ago thanks to Nall's Engine, a wizard-crafted weapon so powerful even the Deep Kings feared it. The strike of the engine created the Misery - a wasteland full of ghosts and corrupted magic that now forms a no-man's-land along the frontier. But when Galharrow investigates a frontier fortress, he discovers complacency bordering on treason: then the walls are stormed, and the engine fails to launch. 

Galharrow escapes only because of the preternatural magical power of the noblewoman he was supposed to be protecting. Together they race to the capital to unmask the traitors and restore the republic's defences. Far across the Misery, a vast army is on the move, as the empire prepares to call the republic's bluff. 

Blackwing is a gritty epic fantasy for fans of Mark Lawrence, Scott Lynch and Daniel Polansky. 

Read by Colin Mace. 

©2017 Ed McDonald (P)2017 Orion Publishing Group

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It turns out I like grimdark fantasy after all

I chose this book after an Amazon recommendation, which I don't usually do, but I thought I'd take a punt on a new author.

This book was great! Gripping story, characters that develop more and more as the story goes on - Galharrow, the narrator, unfurls into a really memorable lead character, who you want to spend more time with.

I've previously tried other novels described to be as 'Grimdark' - which seems to mean that the main character is a bit of a nasty git.
I read Paul Hoffman's trilogy, but thought it peaked with Left Hand of God. I enjoyed it though.
I wanted to like Mark Lawrence. The plot kept me turning pages to the end of each book, but I found the lead character two dimensional and tiresome by the end.
This was everything I wanted those books to be! It blew them out of the water.

The premise reminded me of Chronicles of the Black Company, but with more vivid storytelling.

I also really loved that, while there's lots of potential for more books in the series, the narrative of this one finished its ark with the book. I'll be waiting eagerly to read the next one, but it's great not to always need that to finish the story.

The narrator was really good. A very convincing Galharrow who can carry off everyone else's voice too.
I didn't realise Nen was an Aussie though...

7 people found this helpful

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Excellent grimdark

Mark Lawrence better up his game or this lad will be king of grimdark. Can't wait for more - hope they keep the same narrator too

2 people found this helpful

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A Serious. Contender

In my personal opinion, of the modern writers who have chosen to throw their lot in with dark fantasy, Joe Abercrombie is the brightest star. Oh, I reluctantly accept George R R Martin, though, his written work too often smacks of pornography, which blights its more inspired moments.
But Ed Mcdonald I feel is right up there with the best of them, chomping at Joe's coat tails. I hope there will be more authors who create such worlds and characters, such trials and beautiful sacrifices, both dark and light. I will be watching this guy certainly.

1 person found this helpful

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A fantastic romp!

This was a great book, really enjoyed it. It had a bit of an Abercrombie vibe with the miserable main character, kind of reminiscent of the Bloody 9/ Glokta. Some good world building and pacing, I had many an enjoyable walk with my dogs listening to this audio book.

Also I think the narrator, Colin Mace was excellent as ever, his voice is just right for this style of story telling with gritty, earthy tones that suit the characters brilliantly.

I'll be moving onto the sequel in short order.

1 person found this helpful

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Loved it! straight into the next!!

Great characters, evil villains, an alcoholic hero... what more could you want?!
Filled the void I'd had since finishing the Demon Cycle.

1 person found this helpful

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Great universe, Great writing, Great acting

Overall a spectacularly well put together piece of work. I've just finished my second listen and really allowed myself to sink into it very heavily from the get-go. The second listen through was in fact a lot more rich and I would heavily recommend doing so.

I've recommended this book to a number of people, one of the finest works I've listened to.

1 person found this helpful

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A very good fantasy novel with plenty of action

It was an excellent fantasy story with a well written and complex world, and a magic system that was able to hold itself up consistently.

I liked the characters well enough, though I didnt fall in love with them the way I would have liked too, which was the only thing really letting the story down for me. Even so, it was packed full of flawed, funny and badass characters - there just weren't any I personally was able to connect to.

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A whole murder of crows

it feels like I have been rating alot as 5 star ⭐ recently but then I only buy on audible what I have heard recommended repeatedly but have struggled to get to on my tbr... and it has to be said, I am very glad I got this on audible as it's the most perfectly suited book to listen to that I *think I have ever come across. this is because the entire book reads as a single first person narrative of the events which in itself is unusual, and that Mr McDonald makes it work SO well is even more unusual.
this is a core of dark fantasy, with a world built to easily fit in the imagination as it centers on a city on the border of a vast wasteland which is the front lines of an ancient war against an even more ancient evil. I wouldn't say quite grimdark as, even though the "good guys" are obscure, grey characters, not quite good, the bad guys are quite clearly bad. the monsters are evil are brilliantly imagined.
I should have read this sooner 😃

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By the dead, that was great.

💀👍wow. Great origonal dark fantasy work. The pace lifted as I delved deeper in to the misery.

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A wonderful surprise

I picked this title on the basis of the reviews which had been left for it, and I am glad I did. With hints of David Gemmell and Brandin Sanderson it is a rip-roaring fantasy story and appropriately grim and dark.

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  • Patricia Bennett
  • 21-01-19

Just a great book! Performance, is amazing!

I was suggested this book by a friend, first few minutes had me wondering if it was the right choice, Im soooo glad i stuck with it. Colin Mace has a great narration voice, doing all the voices perfectly. You really get attached to the characters and the story is great, such a good suggestion! It wont disappoint, and Book 2 was just as good. Highly recommended even if you sort of like fantasy novels but isn't your first pick.