I found The Raven’s Mark trilogy by Ed McDonald to be an enthralling and expertly rendered tale, possibly the high watermark in grimdark fantasy fiction. McDonald is a vastly gifted author; as I was reading, I almost wore out the highlighter function on my Kindle. There were so many compelling quotes that could be lifted from the text. I could imagine them posterized and framed, plastered to the walls of homes, workplaces, pubs; some perhaps even more suited to bathrooms. The world building is intricate, well-composed, and original, the characters soulful and human in all their gristly faults. The plot is gripping from beginning to end, and the stakes could not be higher—for the world and, perhaps more importantly, for the characters themselves.
With Wraith Lord, I plunged back into the world created by CT Phipps that I was introduced to in Wraith Knight. Wraith Lord continues the story of Jacob Riverson, a former knight turned wraith turned wraith knight turned Lord of Evil. Only, it seems that his continued progression from lowly mortal to King of all Shadowkind only spells bigger problems for him. The story kind of follows the old adage “be careful what you wish for,” even though Jacob didn’t wish for any of this.
Seraphina’s Lament is a dark and gritty tale that follows six would-be saviors of the world in an interesting take on the Chosen One theme. Seraphina and her twin brother Neryan were born with elemental talent. Seraphina wields the gift of fire, while Neryan commands the gift of water. Both have been enslaved in a kingdom ruled by the ruthless Premier Eyad, a sociopathic revolutionary who has come into his own. But while Neryan escaped years ago, Seraphina has continued to be the slave of Eyad and suffered greatly at his hand, both in spirit as well as body.