Blackwing by Ed McDonald


Ed McDonald

Blackwing is a gritty fantasy debut about a man’s desperate battle to survive his own dark destiny.

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“A remarkably assured fantasy debut that mixes of the inventiveness of China Miéville with the fast paced heroics of David Gemmell.”—Anthony Ryan, New York Times bestselling author of The Legion of Flame

Set on a postapocalyptic frontier, Blackwing is a gritty fantasy debut about a man’s desperate battle to survive his own dark destiny...

Hope, reason, humanity: the Misery breaks them all.
Under its cracked and wailing sky, the Misery is a vast and blighted expanse, the arcane remnant of a devastating war with the immortals known as the Deep Kings. The war ended nearly a century ago, and the enemy is kept at bay only by the existence of the Engine, a terrible weapon that protects the Misery’s border. Across the corrupted no-man’s-land teeming with twisted magic and malevolent wraiths, the Deep Kings and their armies bide their time. Watching. Waiting.
Bounty hunter Ryhalt Galharrow has breathed Misery dust for twenty bitter years. When he’s ordered to locate a masked noblewoman at a frontier outpost, he finds himself caught in the middle of an attack by the Deep Kings, one that signifies they may no longer fear the Engine. Only a formidable show of power from the very woman he is seeking, Lady Ezabeth Tanza, repels the assault.
Ezabeth is a shadow from Galharrow’s grim past, and together they stumble onto a web of conspiracy that threatens to end the fragile peace the Engine has provided. Galharrow is not ready for the truth about the blood he’s spilled or the gods he’s supposed to serve…

Advance Galley Reviews

This was a wonderful escape from reality - into a dark and apocalyptic fantasy world. Gritty is right, as the characters and the world they live in are both dark and rough around the edges. This was a fast paced thriller, where I found myself rooting for the "good"(-ish?) guys. The cover alone is stunning, and the story was enthralling.

This was probably one of the first YA books I have really enjoyed in a while. Great read. Highly recommend!

Trouble with download.

This book was great. It is a YA, Fantasy novel. This book has everything I love in it. It's a dark fantasy but it exceeded my expectations. I'm so happy I got to read it. If you don't read fantasy or just not into fantasy you may not enjoy this book but if you love fa fantasy I like do pick this one up. 4stars Thank you to first to read for my advanced readers copy.

Fun and easy read. Curious to see where it goes, would love more backstory on the Deep Kings and the 7 who stood against them. Sequel/prequel perhaps?

I enjoyed Blackwing by Ed McDonald very much! I am no fan of first-person but this tale had it running like a dream. I will for sure purchase this book for my collection! Hope to read more from Ed. -Ashley

Blackwing has exceeded my expectations! Its a gritty, dark fantasy. The book was nothing like what I expected, but in a good way. The main character is not perfect, he is riddled with flaws, yet he still remains likeable. The world building in the book is amazing. It is so complex, yet I was able to catch on to the ins and outs of the world fairly quickly. I even found myself laughing at some of the events in the book. The story was filled with plot twists and predictable situations that were brought about in very unpredictable ways. The However, the book did start out slow, but after a few chapters, it really started to pick up the pace. I would definitely not recommend this book to everyone. If you are not a fan of dark fantasy, or fantasy in general, then this is not the book for you. Overall, I would give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Nall's Engine was created by the Nameless and last used a hundred years ago to push the Deep Kings away from Dortmark, creating the magic-warped landscape of the Misery. Legions of Talents toil away spinning phos from moonlight to power the engines, while more powerful magicians, called Spinners, can use the phos as a weapon. The stalemate seems ready to hold for another hundred years until Ryhalt Galharrow is sent to retrieve a Spinner from one of the Stations near the Misery. The woman from his past, however, doesn't need to be saved - rather, she needs help unveiling a treasonous plot that's infiltrated farther than anyone could expect. Wow. Just wow. I usually avoid grimdark because so many books that brand themselves as that seem just wallow in misery and throw in a bit of a plot as an afterthought. I was pleasantly surprised by this book from the first chapter. Yes, there's the general "life sucks and then you die" background of the book, but there's also great characters, political plots, and hints of humor. The action is a bit backloaded in the book, but the twisty plot held my interest well enough that I didn't mind and honestly didn't even really notice. It took me a chapter or so to get in to the story, but after that, I was hooked. The magic system is original and fascinating, Ezabeth and Nenn are amazing awesome, and Ryhalt is the perfect mix of flawed hero. The Brides, drudge, and Darlings are creepy-spectacular. This is the first in a series, but it works well as a standalone. Unlike the first in some other series, I felt like the main plot wrapped up to a satisfying conclusion. Definitely recommended to anyone looking for an exciting, enthralling read!

This is a very dark fantasy!! I love it. What a great little world Mr. McDonald has crafted. The fight of old versus new and the user and used was downright grime. I am looking forward to book two!!!

This is a very promising start to a new fantasy series. I am a huge fan of the fantasy genre, especially dark fantasy. Blackwing did not disappoint. The world building is amazing. The characters are complex and there were some twists that I definitely did not anticipate. The story started out a little slow for me, but once the pace picked up, it was full speed ahead. I found the tale of the Dark Kings and the Nameless fascinating. I enjoyed the banter between Galharrow, Nenn and Tnota. I would recommend Blackwing and look forward to reading more from this author.

Although I was very intrigued by the description of this book, I unfortunately could not get my downloaded galley to work properly. I look forward to getting this from the library when the title is published to give it a try.

Honestly, I found this book a little hard to get into at first, but I stuck with it and ended up enjoying it. I am intrigued and looking forward to the rest of the series.

HOLY CRAP! This book was AWESOME! It is a little dark and a bit graphic at times. If you have a squeamish stomach or are triggered easily, it may not be for you, but it is definitely not the darkest or most graphic book I've ever read. This story is so unique! The author did an excellent job at building a broken world, where even the sky was broken and crying. I loved the women in this story! The main character's most vicious and loyal soldier us a woman named Nenn. She was probably my favorite. Nenn is a complete badass! She a fighter, without a nose. She wears a wooden nose, and is constantly chewing some kind of black substance that I assume is like chewing tobacco that makes your teeth black. Ezabeth was great, too! She is a fearless, smart, powerful Spinner. Spinners are able to draw power from the three moons and create Phos from it, which allows them to do magic. I also liked Tnota. He is the main character's most loyal navigator, who when he isn't navigating or fighting, is with the steady stream of men that were coming and going from his house. I loved Galharrow's development throughout the story. He was constantly battling with himself, what he is, and the things he's done. He would rather spend all his time at the bottom of a bottle, but instead, when he comes across a woman that he used to know, ends up going down the rabbit hole with her, discovering a huge conspiracy theory that could kill put an end to humanity. The Deep Kings are gearing up for war, and the Nameless, who are the only ones that can defeat them, are nowhere to be found. Even Crowfoot, who has a pact with Galharrow, is MIA. So, instead, Galharrow and Ezabeth have to try to figure out how to save everyone from the Deep Kings. This book was excellent and so much different from anything I've ever read. I loved it! It was action-packed, and full of twists and turns that you would never anticipate. I especially loved the ending and can't wait to see what the author comes up with for the sequel! I received a copy of this book from the publishers, via First to Read, in exchange for an honest review. Check out this and many other reviews on my blog: Meet Your New Favorite Book

Blackwing by Ed McDonald is the first book of the Raven's Mark series, set in a post apocalyptic, fantastical world in an ultimate fight between good and evil. With many characters and a huge world-building, you will get entangled with the main characters, Ryhalt Galharrow and Ezabeth Tanza, and their quest to figure out a machine that will save their land and people from the Deep Kings and their followers. This adventure is filled with magical elements, mutated beings and lots of killing and fighting, which keeps you turning the pages until the end. Definitely recommend for adult fantasy readers and will pick up the next in the series.

I finished Blackwing with mixed feelings. The world-building was both fascinating when describing the Range, and a little frustrating because I couldn't tell if the whole country was this devastated, or just the area bordering the Misery. It's to get a feel for a place when you don't know how it relates to all others it's affected by. I liked Galharrow, the protagonist, and his friends Nenn and Tnota. 'D like to see a little less self-loathing and denial in the sequel. Ezabeth was unevenly written throughout, so it was hard to like her, though I could admire her strength and grit. I'm not in love with how the Nameless interacted with the people who needed them, though the climax was intensely dramatic. Overall a decent story and I'll pick up the sequel.

Part fantasy part noir detective story (why was I reminded so vividly of Marcus Didius Falco in Silver Pigs?). An intricate world presented through the book, seeding the details throughout the book. Dark, yet hopeful and full of humanity with its many faces.

I love a well written, dark fantasy, and this one delivers! Such a dark and twisted world with some unpredictable and messed up characters! A quick read, and one that keeps you guessing! I loved every minute of this one!

This post apocalyptic story is a quick read and a fabulous fantasy debut Novel full of danger, mystery, creatures, and unexpected hero's. Ryhalt Galharrow is well equipped to deal with the frontier of Misery. fighting the Deep Kings and trying not to be entangled in all the politics Gallharrow is a broken man looking for redemption and pining for a lost life and love. This bounty hunter is paid to find and protect an important magical Nobel woman from both men and monsters or so he thinks. It becomes more entangled when the woman turns out to be the long lost love of his life that did not work out and that was partially responsible for sending him on his destructive life journey. They soon find out the Engine the most powerful weapon and the only thing to keep the Deep Kings or worse monsters at bay does not work. The Deep Kings spies also find out and soon the battle emerges. Who are the pawns? Who are spies? Who are their allies? Is this politics, magic, or worse? Is their a chance for human survival or will the monsters finally take over, but most of all what is the secret of the Engine? This fantasy was a fun fast read full of amazing characters and even better monsters and magic. It was a little difficult in parts to fallow but very imaginative in its creative differences. I would have like a little more description of the place and the people and monsters to help clarify some of the information provided but it did not take away from the overall story and can be expanded in further books of the series. I would recommend this book to those interested in fantasy, Sci-Fi, and post apocalyptic novels. I look forward to the next book in the series.

Ed McDonald has written a very interesting book using some very different and strange characters. This wasn't a bad thing at all, as I was reading this I wanted to put it into a steampunk category and then something so over the top would remind me of similarity to Steven King. The misery is truly a messed up place. The things that walk in and exist within it are "otherworldly" nasty. Blackwing is a messed up lead character and just when you think you've got him figured out, Ed yanks the carpet out from under your shoes. I enjoyed the book and look forward to more of his writing. Good job. No spoilers from me, I'm not a spinner!!!

I wanted to like this book. I mean, I only had to look at the synopsis to see several things that were I find appealing for a fantasy novel. Before I get to what made me set this one aside, I have to acknowledge a few things. The action was great. There was a lot of it in the portion of the book that I did read that made the first few chapters relatively exciting. The system of magic and some of the world building was also pretty neat. A particular highlight was the setting and some of the history. That being said, I began to notice some things that I didn’t like, and when I got to this part where the “Bride” was introduced and subsequently described…uh, yeah, it got awkward. After that I really had no desire to continue reading.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get through this novel. It just wasn't the right fit for me

The book was alright. Not my favorite fantasy book. I thought I would like it more.

This isn't a review, I honestly couldn't finish this book. I gave it to the half way point and stopped. Just wasn't for me.

Like many other reviewers note, this book is a slow start. So slow, in fact, that I almost gave up on it--and I'm a fan of fantasy and know how the worldbuilding in these things can go. I'm glad I didn't, though...because it picks up about halfway through and really kicks into high gear. It veers a little into grimdark--so if you're not into that, maybe skip this one--but if you like gritty fantasy, this will be a great choice for you.

I am not one who usually reads fantasy but I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I will say there were a few times where I felt I was missing part of the story, even though this is the first book in the series. I am looking forward to another book about Galharrow and the rest of his team.

My thoughts on this book are that it is not formulaic. Blackwing is an anti-hero. His own worst enemy. I am a newcomer to reading the fantasy genre. It was on my book challenge list. But I understand story structure. I dislike that there were some slow parts. I like that the characters weren't two dimensional. You will be entertained once the pace picks up, Mostly it is worth a read.

This book seemed very intriguing. However, for me, it was very hard to get into. It was an interesting, but I, unfortunately, couldn't fully invest myself in it.

This book appears to be the first of a new grim dark fantasy series but fortunately it does not end in a cliffhanger, although there is more story to tell in this world. As the start of a new series there is a lot of world building and backstory to introduce. The story is told in the first person by Captain Ryhalt Galharrow who is a Blackwing bound to Crowfoot, one of the Nameless. Most of the time Galharrow works as a bounty hunter and is only occasionally called upon by Crowfoot to assist in the battle between the Nameless and the Deep Kings. The humans are caught between these two groups of god-like beings. Crowfoot has a really unique way of communicating with Galharrow. There are also several other genres of sorcerers or wizards on each side of the battle. One of these is Ezabeth Tanza, a woman from Galharrow's past, who has strong magical powers. There are only two things keeping the Deep Kings at bay. One is a large, desolate territory called the Misery that is full of strange and dangerous creatures. The second is a powerful weapon called the Engine. Unfortunately, Ezabeth has begun to suspect that the Engine isn't as powerful as it is purported to be. I confess that my attempt to download this ARC crashed two devices so that by the time I finally got to read it I was pretty much daring it to entertain me. I liked the set up in the beginning, but then there was a really long uneventful stretch that had too many details and it bored me. The story picked up again about 80 pages from the end and from then on it was very exciting. "Time for anger. Time for vengeance. The treacherous bastards were about to understand why you do not, not with the backing of princes, not with the backing of Darlings or Kings or the spirits of hatred themselves, fuck with Ryhalt Galharrow." Also, the language was sometimes too flowery for my taste: "The sky was sobbing, long purrs of sharp, cold nightmare as the dawn broke." I don't even know what that means, and I think the author was working too hard on his metaphors. Despite the boring parts, the ending went a long way towards redeeming it. I also wound up liking the magic and characters in this book and will probably continue with the series. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

I have to admit that I don't usually read this type of "grimdark" fantasy but I can appreciate the clever plot twists, colorful characters and fast moving story. The story centers around a hardened Captain and his crew who roam the Misery trying to keep the bad guys away from the good guys and the kingdom safe. They are a pretty rough bunch and I felt like I was reading a war story - think Mad Max meets The Dirty Dozen. Their speech is clipped, gruff and the banter between the crew is tense but playful. Their plight almost seems believable even though this is definitely a post-apocalytic world. McDonald does a great job of world building in this debut although I did feel a bit lost in the slang. The plot twists are clever and he will have a solid fan base with this first book. My thanks to the publisher for the advance copy.

I thought Blackwing by Ed McDonald was a good book and a thoroughly enjoyable read. There were some times when the world building got a little bit confusing but I was able to put the pieces together to enjoy the story. I don't read much of this type of dark fantasy and Blackwing won't convert me into a die-hard fan of the genre. However, I like to read widely and try all kinds of genres and this is exactly what I want when I am reading a genre I am not familiar with. Enough explanation and world building to set the scene but not become overwhelming, good characters, a page turning plot, and solid writing that doesn't distract from the work. Blackwing hit on all those criteria for me and I would recommend this for any readers looking to try the grim dark fantasy genre.

Very slow for me. The world building was interesting, more of a western-esque fantasy than I expected. Unfortunately it didn't grab me and I gave up after 75 pages. Seems like a good gritty fantasy, but not for me.

Blackwing was a gritty, satisfyingly, surprise of a treat. I was so engrossed in in Ryhalt's journey that I could not stop reading. I loved the different characters and don't get me started on the creepy, vicious, darlings that jump off the page when they make their first appearance in the book. it is well written and creative and It left me wanting more adventures and more characters and more creeps. I can't wait to see what this author is up to next.

Incredible book! The suspense, the building attraction, and the plot - all combined to present an outstandingly complex.

This was, quite simply, one of the best fantasy novels I've ever had the pleasure of reading. It was dark, imaginative, unique, gripping, and just so well written. I loved everything about it. I'm going to do my best to give some kind of synopsis but this story is so steeped in its own mythology and filled with such detail that I feel I might get some of it wrong or do a disservice by giving too many details. That was part of the magic. Everything I read was new and shiny and completely original. Ryhalt Galharrow is a bounty hunter who is sent through the Misery to an outpost to find a mysterious noblewoman. He is also known as Blackwing because he serves Crowfoot, a Nameless (one of five god-like beings that fight the Deep Kings, even stronger god-like beings). Galharrow is no stranger to the Misery, a vast wasteland filled with all sorts of nasty magic creatures and ghosts, including the terrifying Darlings and others who were once men. Magic has since twisted and corrupted them but most are held back in the Misery by the threat of Nall's Engine, a weapon that besides being the cause of the Misery's creation has the power to cause massive damage. It isn't something to be used lightly because of the incredible amount of magic it takes to power and the damage it causes. When Galharrow arrives at the outpost to find the noblewoman he discovers that he knows her. Galharrow and Ezabeth have a history together that adds a surprisingly emotional layer to this already incredible book. Together they discover that Nall's Engine might be in trouble and if the Deep Kings find out, there is nothing to stop them from attacking. Ryhalt Galharrow would probably describe himself as simple, but he was anything but. He wasn't a hero. He definitely wasn't a villain. While he did many bad things, I would say somewhere buried beneath his bitterness and battled hardened heart he was good. He hated the world and everyone in it, yet he has a select few of people he loved fiercely. He enjoyed killing and admitted as much. He just...was. He didn't feel like a character written, he read like a man plucked from the ether and put on paper. He was fascinating to read and I loved being in his head. So simple. So complex. So human. While the writing was sometimes crude (appropriately so, it was first person and Blackwing is a rough man) it was also surprisingly elegant and when paired with the horrors of war and the consequences, it was all the more effective and powerful. I was glued to this book and utterly fascinated. I wanted to know more about everything. I want a whole book on the creatures of the Misery. I want a history lesson about the creation of their world. I loved the idea of Phos, magic harvested from light. There were Spinners and Talents, both of which could harvest/gather magic from light and the Spinners would wield it. I wanted to know more about everything. We are given just enough information that we understand who the Deep Kings and Nameless are and what they want, yet we are kept in the dark just enough that we aren't able to predict their actions. Basically, everything was done so well. Information was doled out perfectly. No info dump. Just brilliant. I can't recommend this enough for fantasy lovers and I'm so excited that this is a series. *I recieved an ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Blackwing by Ed McDonald isn't exactly a cheery book and definitely falls in the GrimDark genre with it's gritty plot and flawed heroes. I found it pretty bleak and wasn't exactly sure how it could be the start of a series, since it looked pretty much like a tale about the end of humanity in what was already a gloomy postapocalyptic world. Nobody is a hero in the "good guy" sense, and everybody has caused their share of pain and suffering. However, I eventually came to like the main characters - Ryhalt, Ezabeth, and Naan in particular - and learned to accept the dark realism of the book. There is plenty of action and lots of swordfights, battles, and death for those who like their dystopian books on the dark side. There is also a bit of hope thrown in, eventually, for those who like their endings maybe not totally bleak. I enjoyed the book, more at the end than at the beginning. I kept feeling that there was too much unexplained backstory, as though I'd missed an earlier book, but finally the author let us off the hook and explained a bit more of the characters' histories. Until those final chapters, we just had to take it on faith that the characters were good at heart but making distasteful life choices because they had been badly damaged by past events. I will look forward to the next book, and I will recommend this to my stronger-stomached friends who don't need their stories to be sunny and bright.

It started a little slow for me but that has been true of some of my favorite books. This really got hold of me and didn't let go once I was familiar with the characters and the world building. Found it to be nicely original and fresh. I do look forward to other books from him.

Just what I needed to get me into reading again!!! Very exciting book from the very beginning. I will definitely be reading the rest of these books. They will have a spot on my shelf to be displayed for all the world to envy.

Amazing! Very exciting and had me on the edge of my seat the entire book! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and will check out other works by this author.

Quite a powerful start for a new series, promising more to come. The very beginning grabs you and pulls you into the Misery, a zone full of dark, twisted, mangling magic and horrible creatures. The anti-hero Galharrow, is a Blackwing who serves the God Crowfoot, rounding up dissidents. He receives messages by a raven released from his tattoo, which is a great design. Being a hard, gritty and complicated man, Galharrow is likable but totally capable of cruelty and doing whatever the job demands. Nenn is a hoot, definitely best strong female character. Ezabeth has a link to his past, and he is tasked in finding her and the adventure begins. The Deep Gods are threatening to cross the Misery border and the story revolves around the great weapon that deals with the approaching threat. The heroes are tasked with stopping them. The world building is well done and the characterizations are full and fleshed out. Some rough language, but a strong and detailed story. Prose and snark equally spattered throughout. Dialogue prevails especially between Galharrow and his close comrades. The romance was stretched, but that's probably my perception. Looking forward to the next book in the series.


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