Raven’s Strike picks up soon after the end of Raven’s Shadow: Tier, Seraph, Jes, Lehl, and Hennea have collected Rinnie and returned to the farm near Redern following the events of Raven’s Shadow. Their hard-earned peace is soon interrupted by the arrival of Phoran, a friend of Tier’s and an ally from Raven’s Shadow, with some bad news. Another Epic Quest™ ensues, this time with the whole family along for the ride. And anyone else they pick up along the way, or so it seems.
This second book in the series actually has more of an Epic Quest™ tradition than its predecessor, which I enjoyed. It’s tough to find a good traditional epic quest storyline these days, and between the two books I was rather reminded of David Eddings’ Belgariad. I enjoyed the questing itself, but felt the resolution to be a little flat and I do have some unanswered questions. I suppose it doesn’t help that it turned out that I’d (correctly) guessed the identity of the current Big Bad in the first book, so the Big Reveal™ was pretty wasted on me.
In Raven’s Strike we got to see some areas of the Empire mentioned in the previous installment but never visited, and learned more about the history of the Travelers, the Nameless King and the Wizards of Colossae. The story of Colossae and the origin of the Traveler Orders was a part I particularly enjoyed reading about; as I think I mentioned before, the world is well-built and well-detailed.
Familiar faces returned from Raven’s Shadow, and were further developed and fleshed out. Phoran made the step from being an important secondary character in the first book to one of the main characters in this, and I enjoyed seeing the continuation of the growing up and maturing he began in Raven’s Shadow. It’s a shame that I won’t be able to find out how he continues to mature and establish himself going forward (which I know is vague, but I’m trying not to give specific or too many spoilers).
The relationship between Seraph and Tier had some lovely intimate moments, and I greatly enjoyed the development of the not-a-romance between Jes and Hennea. Thankfully, Briggs does not seem inclined to commit the cardinal sin of having to pair up every main or important secondary character over the age of 16, and these were the only real romantic relationships.
Overall, I enjoyed this book a great deal, and would love to see either a continuation of the existing stories or an unrelated tale set in the same world. My chances of that are slim to none, but a girl can hope. This is definitely a recommended read, though you will need to read Raven’s Shadow first; this book borrows heavily from its predecessor, and would not stand well on its own.
For anyone who is interested, Patricia Briggs has some author commentary and supplementary artwork and author’s comments available on her website. The new covers for the books are pretty, but I actually prefer the older artwork. YMMV.