Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Raven’s Ladder

Title: Raven’s Ladder
Series: Auralia’s Thread #3 (Gold Strand)

Author: Jeffrey Overstreet

Genre: Adult Fantasy

Excerpt from “Prologue” of Raven’s Ladder:

Remembering, the Treasure rose in a dustcloud from the cushions. “Mustn’t be late,” she whispered.

A lantern’s frenzied flame—the only light her captors allowed—made of her a wild shadow on walls of clay and roots. She cupped a handful of ash-dry crumbs from the bedside bowl. Then she cowled her head in a dark shawl and fitted her feet into timeworn slippers—soldier’s boots she’d snatched from a passing pillage cart and trimmed to fit.

Touching the dingy rag-weave curtain she had hung on the windowless wall, she said, “I’ll come back.”

As if in answer, colors flickered about the curtain’s edges.

A king seeks a new home for the weary remnant of his people.

The Craft: Raven’s Ladder is not a book to rush through. It’s not that you can’t, but if you do, you’ll miss the strongest element in this story—the wordsmithing.

Yes, the plot is strong, and the cast of characters complex. But what makes these elements work is the vivid and very descriptive language of the book itself, bringing to life an intricate fantasy realm in brilliant color.

The Content: Raven’s Ladder carries a very somber tone. While there is nothing wrong with that, an easy and light-hearted read should not be expected either. The darkness is very present, and the increasing shadows creeping into all the characters’ lives can create a slightly smothering feel as the reader attempts to emotionally cope with everything going on. However, enough humor and hope remain to keep the reader moving along, and this novel is by no means the end of the journey.

Meanwhile, thematic material continues to grow and diversify as each character attempts to find and stay on the path laid out for them: following directions, doing small things well to prepare for big things, discerning between good and best, the lure of luxury…the list can go on and on.

Beyond this, there is the typical fantasy violence, including hand-to-hand combat, deaths of good and evil characters, and attempted assassinations. Magical elements are clearly delineated, and many of the “good” supernatural gifts that can be controlled are attributed to genetics.

Summary: At a slower pace and darker tone, Raven’s Ladder is not for everyone. Nonetheless, the story is intriguing and complex, a worthwhile read. Recommended avid fantasy readers, especially word-lovers or those who like complex world-building. Not recommended for those under 16 years.

Ratings: Craft—4, Content—4, Overall—4.3 out of 5 stars

You can also find reviews for Auralia's Colors here and Cyndere's Midnight here.


Fred Warren said...

Nice review, Chawna. That underlying theme of "doing small things well to prepare for big things" was something I hadn't noticed, but it's definitely important to all these stories.

Rachel Starr Thomson said...

Yup :).

Great review!

Jeffrey Overstreet said...

Thank you for thinking through the story's themes so carefully, Chawna. I'm honored by your attention to the story.

Chawna Schroeder said...

Fred and Rachel, thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you enjoyed the review.

Mr. Overstreet, I'm the one honored, both by the work you've done to create such a novel, and by taking the time to stop by & comment. Thank you.

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