Blood, Spies, and Ships


A year or so ago, I read the Raven’s Shadow series by Anthony Ryan.  This was a fantastic trilogy that left me thinking about the characters long after I’d finished reading, so I was excited to read the first of his new series.  The Waking Fire did not disappoint.

Throughout the vast lands controlled by the Ironship Trading Syndicate, nothing is more prized than the blood of drakes. Harvested from captive or hunted Reds, Greens, Blues and Blacks, it can be distilled into elixirs that bestow fearsome powers on the rare men and women known as the Blood-blessed.

But not many know the truth: that the lines of drakes are weakening. If they fail, war with the neighboring Corvantine Empire will follow swiftly. The Syndicate’s last hope resides in whispers of the existence of another breed of drake, far more powerful than the rest, and the few who have been chosen by fate to seek it.

Claydon Torcreek is a petty thief and an unregistered Blood-blessed who finds himself pressed into service by the Protectorate and sent to wild, uncharted lands in search of a creature he believes is little more than legend. Lizanne Lethridge is a formidable spy and assassin facing gravest danger on an espionage mission deep into the heart of enemy territory. And Corrick Hilemore is the second lieutenant of an Ironship cruiser whose pursuit of ruthless brigands leads him to a far greater threat at the edge of the world.

As lives and empires clash and intertwine, as the unknown and the known collide, all three must fight to turn the tide of a coming war, or drown in its wake.   ~Inside Flap

After reading His Majesty’s Dragon, I told a friend I’d read a novel about the Napoleonic Wars, but with dragons!  This friend isn’t into fantasy so I don’t think she was impressed.  I told her I’d finished another novel after reading this one, and she asked if it had dragons.  “Drakes!”  She didn’t share my excitement.

The start of this book is very engaging.  Between the prologue and the first chapter, I wanted to know what was really happening in this fictional world.  I knew I’d be reading the whole series shortly after that, and was then dismayed to find the third book won’t be out until 2018.

My favorite of the three main characters was Lizanne.  Who doesn’t like an awesome spy?  She was written so well I truly cared about her welfare as the book progressed. Claydon was also a great character and fun to watch, just like any good rogue.  I’d say the least interesting of the three was Corrick, but the naval battles more than made up for that weakness.

The chapters switch between the characters, who all interact with each other at various points.  It was a great way to show what was happening at different parts of the world at the same time, and how the actions of one character affected the others.

Both in this book and the Raven series, I noticed his ability to elicit my understanding of a scene without needing to describe it in detail.  There was a fortress in one of the first books, and I could envision it perfectly even though relatively little space was dedicated to its description.  In Waking Fire, there are a few scenes that take place in a dressmaker’s shop.  Again, almost no time is spent describing the shop, but somehow I was able to build the visual anyway.  This is a great skill I’d love to be able to learn and employ in my own writing.

This is a great book, and I can’t wait to read the rest of the series.  You can find it on Amazon here.  As an added bonus, you can pre-order the third book as well!

Questions for You!
Have you read this book?  What did you think?
Have you read the Raven’s Shadow series?
What book(s) should I read next?

More Information
Anthony Ryan’s site
Blood Song on Amazon
Wikipedia redirects from Drake to Dragon

3 Comments on “Blood, Spies, and Ships

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