Raven Flight is the second in Juliet Marillier’s Shadowfell trilogy. In book one, Neryn discovered she was a Caller, one who possesses the gifts to call the Good Folk forward to fight on the side of the humans. It was a rough go for Neryn. She didn’t know who to trust or even if she wanted to be the Caller.
In Raven Flight Neryn has come to terms with her role as the Caller and it’s now time for her to hone her gifts. She’s used her ability in the past, but her lack of training makes her a danger to those around her. To learn more about her abilities Neryn will need to go on a journey and learn from the four Guardians. The journey is long and time is running short. Raven Flight is your typical middle trilogy book. Quite frankly there’s not a lot going on here. Once again there is a lot of traveling as Neryn goes to search for the Guardians that can teach her how to harness her abilities. A lot of time is spent on Neryn learning about her capabilities as well as her role in the larger conflict. Neryn has to come to terms with the fact that she is going to hurt and ultimately kill people with her gift, and this is a struggle for her, but a necessary lesson.
What I liked about Raven Flight is that readers get to learn more about other characters in the rebellion. In particular, Neryn is escorted on her journey by the belligerent Tali. Tali is not happy about accompanying Neryn. She is the right-hand to the leader of the rebellion and she does not want to leave him unprotected. But orders are orders, so Tali protects Neryn throughout their journey. I liked seeing more of Tali as I think she represents another element of the rebellion. She is completely focused on the ultimate goal of getting rid of the tyrant, King Keldec. Tali doesn’t believe in making connections with others and she is not shy about sharing her disapproval of Neryn’s relationship with Flint. In Tali’s mind, there’s no point in having relationships with other people; many are likely to die. However, Tali learns a hard lesson about this when someone close to her dies without knowing how she feels about them. What’s the point of fighting for a future if you have no hope for it? I really liked Tali as a character. She’s strong, as are her opinions, but I find her a really interesting character and I hope that she continues to have a major presence in book three.
What I was less enthused about in Raven Flight was the romance. Ugh. Not a fan of it at all. In Shadowfell Neryn found herself reluctantly forming a friendship with Flint, a double agent for the rebellion. There was a lot of back and forth between them, but suddenly in Raven Flight they’re all in love and what not. Quite simply, I just don’t buy it. These two barely spend any time together and now they have all these deep emotions. Personally, I thought that they came out of no where considering there is very little interaction between them in Raven Flight. The romance came off as insta-love, which is not my favourite element in young adult novels. A little more development with this plot would have went a long way in making this relationship a stronger one.
I also struggled with the pacing in Raven Flight. I had a hard time getting through this one. There was just so much traveling and pauses for Neryn to learn. The pacing was so start-and-stop it was hard to motivate myself to read through to the end. Paradoxically, it was the end that changed my opinion on Raven Flight. The novel ends full of action and heartbreak, I was left desperately wanting to read the final installment. I am hoping that the pacing of the final book will be a little more even since the slow build up to conflict is clearly not my preferred style of plot.
Ultimately, Raven Flight did an adequate job of continuing the story of Shadowfell. The issues I had with book one, continued into the second book, but much of that has to do with personal reading taste. As much as I’m not found of the meandering pacing, I do want to know how the conflict with the king will be resolved and whether or not Flint and Neryn get their happily ever after.
For similar reads, see my review of Shadowfell.