Raven Flight, by Juliet Marillier, was published in 2013 by Alfred A. Knopf. It is the sequel to Shadowfell.
After completing the long, weary journey to the rebel hiding ground at Shadowfell, Neryn is now a vital part of their plan to overthrow the tyrannical King Keldec. Every step she takes toward perfecting her skills as a powerful, one-in-a-generation caller gets them closer to their goal. But first she must seek out the disparate leaders of the Good Folk to complete her training—and the time she has left is wearing thin. Meanwhile, Neryn’s beloved, the double agent Flint, is summoned to the king’s court. There the king’s slipping confidence puts Flint in great danger. Yet his connection to Neryn is so strong that they reach each other in their dreams, sharing painful but precious glimpses into one another’s lives. Their love is regarded warily by their rebel allies, for placing any emotion above the cold logic of the cause puts the entire movement at risk. But their bond also reveals valuable information, for the tide of the war may soon be turning….
Having gotten familiar with Marillier’s writing style in Shadowfell, I was better prepared for Raven Flight and I did enjoy Raven more than Shadowfell, if only because I didn’t find it as sleepy. The tone is still a little understated, I think, but it fits the atmosphere well enough, and there were several tense scenes that I thought were well delivered.
As much as I like Neryn, there were moments when I found her a little exasperating. The main problem I have with novels where the protagonists have problems with other people being killed is that it’s harped on all the time. Neryn feels guilty about every single person who crosses her path who ends up dying, and in some cases it’s not even her fault. And that’s fine, because being involved in human death is difficult and should cause thoughts like Neryn is having. But then she angsts over a fish that she helped a seal caught and that’s when it got a little ridiculous, in my opinion. The feeling of guilt over seeing an unconscious man getting swept out to a river where you know he’ll drown, that’s one thing. The equal feeling of guilt over nudging a fish out of a hiding place and seeing a seal catch and eat it is another. It’s a fish.
But other than my moments of annoyance at Neryn, I liked the book a lot. I really like the quiet stoicness of both Neryn and Flint, and I like the two of them together despite their age difference. And although she’s a character type I don’t usually enjoy, I also really liked Tali and her scenes.
I still think the plot and setting as a whole are a little formulaic, but Marillier is good enough that it’s enjoyable nonetheless.
Recommended Age Range: 14+
Warnings: Violence, death.
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
“If I can reach the Guardians and persuade them to teach me, surely I can learn to call only those of you who are strong enough to stand up in that battle.”
“Reach them, persuade them, learn a particularly tricky kind o’ magic, and be ready tae call humankind and Good Folk into a grand battle in a year and a half?” Woodrush’s brows went up. “’Tis nae small thing.”
“Neryn is no ordinary woman,” said Regan. “If you will help her, she can do it.”