Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
A world with Fyre Goblins and Serpent Riders, with sunken cities and Seer towers, and with mortals and immortals. A world everyone wants for themselves.
The Five Kingdoms languish beneath the wiles of vengeful immortals, and only a small group feels able to take them on. Rogue immortals team up with a few mortal misfits to stand against the tide.
Shale, a young sorcerer, who recently discovered his immortal blood, sets out to seek his birthright. Together with his friends and a few rogue immortals, he prepares himself for the battle of their lives. They face the Dreln – savages gifted with elemental powers and the Elsiks – immortals that once ruled.
An old, reclusive sorcerer sets out with the belief that the ultimate weapon is still up for grabs and may be the solution to the land’s future.
The Elsiks appear to have the greatest advantage with the powerful Staff of Amrod, but the Dreln comes up with a nasty surprise for everyone.
A quick note – because there were so many things I liked in this book, this review is going to contain ***SPOILERS***.
The Raven and the Plague picks up right where book 1 left off – Shale and his companions travel the mountains in the company of the powerful Gray Sorceress who has thrived despite shunning the drawings that are known to guarantee the immortality of the Elsiks. Her golden eyes match those of her great snow lynx (and look just as feral).
Mendall is up to his schemes again. We learn the staff Obsidian won during The Match was not the true Staff of Amrod, but a decoy. With the help of Leif, a Lemerk and one of Mendall’s friends, Mendall begins his search to find the true Staff of Amrod.
Meanwhile, Obsidian continues to plot and plan. He still hasn’t figured out how to use the Staff of Amrod and is feeling rather anxious about it, so he plans to use his powers of illusion to trick others into believing he can wield the Staff’s power – for now.
And the plague the Dreln unleash upon the land is only the beginning.
As regards the new characters we get to meet – the Gray Sorceress (Beryle) is inherently intriguing and duly intimidating. However, what really impressed me was her method to survive and thrive without the drawings, or mektan, from human beings. Leif, the potbellied Lemerk, offers another source of comic relief at times. His resourcefulness continues to aid Mendall – and just in time, too. The Fyre Goblins aren’t the enemy you would assume them to be. The Serpent Riders are vicious, deadly, and sound pretty darn terrifying. I wonder if the Serpent Riders’ Kings – the Necromancer Kings of Tilinarth – will make an appearance in the next book. And if they do, will they raise the dead (those that perished from the plague) to control and use in their attempt to conquer the Five Kingdoms of Arezia?
There are a lot more questions left at the end of this book – and I feel Mancey has a lot of paths that this story may take. Will the shaky alliance between Obsidian’s crew and Shale’s companions solidify and will they successfully work together to ward off and defeat the threats to the Five Kingdoms? Will Shale and Obsidian eventually compete in a duel to the death – and will the battle be solely over the Staff of Amrod, or will the beautiful Jaspina have a role as well? Will we learn the story of how Tregad saved Beryle? Will Laris’ swig from the Golbin’s Chalice lengthen her lifespan and provide her and Feldspar a chance at a long and happy life – if they survive the Dreln and the Serpent Riders. Will Shale ever possess the Staff of Amrod? Does he even need it, being a Vanishing/White Elsik? Who is Shale’s father – and will he ever meet him?
Overall, the writing of this story is much more concise and engaging. The dialogue is stronger and more consistent. There isn’t a lot of info-dropping, but rather more dialogues and scenes of subtle clues and hints to suggest at what the author will eventually reveal at the finale. There are so many little things I liked, such as the multiple point of views (Shale, Mendall, Fleetwing, King Jalmor, Olivina, Obsidian, and more). I also liked that Shale’s other companions gained more abilities, and that we learned more about the abilities they had already possessed – like Laris’ trance dance. There were many scenes that contained fantastic imagery (such as the Glean tree and Elsik village that Shale reveals to Mishra and Noran) – hopefully someday an awesome artist will draw those scenes!
I’m looking forward to book three and am a bit upset that I couldn’t find more information about it or its anticipated publication date. If Mancey offers ARCs for the next book – I will be begging her for a copy to read and review!
Fans of Percy Jackson and Harry Potter will like this series.
Overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Appropriate for ages 14 & up.
For more information about M.M. Mancey, check out her website.
I received a free copy of The Raven and the Plague from Goodreads-Making Connections in exchange for an honest review.