January 01, 2006

Raven's Strike by Patricia Briggs

A woman far younger than the character she's depicting wearing a ridiculous costume while she shoots fire at a gremlin coming out of a well while a wolf barks his support in the foregroundI read this book's predecessor, Raven's Shadow when I was scoring books for the 2005 Endeavour Award. It was one of my favorites of those books so when this second volume showed up on the "Choice Reads" shelf at the library, I checked it out.

Again in this volume I really enjoyed the central characters, all members of one family. The fantasy setting is the other major attraction, with a well-realized system of magic where different people are born into certain fairly tightly defined magic ability flavors, each symbolized by a bird. Meadowlark for Healer, Cormorant: weather witch, Owl: bard, Eagle: guardian, Falcon: hunter, and Raven: mage. The family conveniently has members of all the orders but the healer Lark. It's also something of a mystery since not everyone is born into an order and a single family with such a concentration of order-bearers is virtually unprecedented.

The plot of Raven's Strike reveals big chunks of the world's backstory in the bounds of a fairly generic stop-the-big-bad storyline. What makes it fun are the characters, the nature of the world, and Briggs's page-turner pacing.

This volume is also distinctive for having cover art with one of the most annoyingly wrong depictions of a character from its book. The model for the woman on the cover appears to be about sixteen years old and is wearing some sort of ridiculous faux-medieval livery with flowing sleeves, a short skirt, and some kind of cape. The character who actually participated in the scene depicted is a mature, practical mother of three who wouldn't be caught dead in such an absurd costume.

Posted by jeffy at January 1, 2006 07:42 PM
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