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(Raven's Mark #1)

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  5,320 ratings  ·  858 reviews

The republic faces annihilation, despite the vigilance of Galharrow's Blackwings. When a raven tattoo rips itself from his arm to deliver a desperate message, Galharrow and a mysterious noblewoman must investigate a long dead sorcerer's legacy. But there is a conspiracy within the citadel: traitors, flesh-eaters and the ghosts of the wastelands seek to destroy them, but if

Paperback, 360 pages
Published October 3rd 2017 by Ace Books (first published July 27th 2017)
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Mark Lawrence
Feb 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Blackwing has a very strong start. It gave me shades of Peter Newman's The Vagrant in that reality has been broken and corrupted by godlike creatures and much of humanity is being twisted into creatures to serve them. I also got some BioShock vibes with things monstrosities like the Darlings (Little Sisters!) and the Brides. And finally it reminded me of Priest of Bones (published this summer) in the band of mercenary types with a hard as nails female second in command...

After a highly intriguin
James Tivendale
Mar 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, freecopy
I received an advanced copy of Blackwing through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank Ed McDonald, Orion Publishing Group and Gollancz.

McDonald begins this tale by placing the reader in the Misery - following the action of Captain Galharrow and his crew of Blackwing mercenaries during their latest mission. The Misery is a post-apocalyptic, shifting wasteland under a broken and wailing bruise-coloured sky. This vast expanse of land is unpredictable, frightening and f
Jun 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Grimdark fans
ARC provided by the publisher—Ace—in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley

I’m calling every fan of Joe Abercrombie and Mark Lawrence to put Blackwing on their radar. Blackwing, the debut work and the first book in the Raven’s Mark series by Ed McDonald is one of the most original grimdark fantasies I've read so far.

My experience will most likely differ from a lot of readers but I envisioned Blackwing as something that was created out of an open world video games with a post-apocalyptic se
Jul 25, 2017 rated it really liked it

ARC provided by Ace Books in exchange for an honest review.

“Some men are born to charm ladies and spread their irresponsible seed across the land. Some exist to create the great works of art that inspire dreams and drive creativity for generations. Others are born to till the fields, put bread on the table, and raise their sons to till the fields, put bread on the table, raise sons of their own. I was born to end lives.”

2017 appears to just be the year for amazing debut fantasy novel
Sean Barrs
Perfect for fans of Scott Lynch, Joe Abercrombie and Mark Lawrence, this dark adventure is gripping and bloody; it's a twisted story that spins a web of deceit. Nothing is as it seems, as ageless powers manipulate and control the lives of the characters. The world is a staging ground, all leading to one dramatic confrontation that has been a century in the making.

One hundred years ago Nall's Engine was fired on the enemies of the Republic, and in its wake it left a blackened and scarred landscap
Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~
Ok, so please let me tell you all about this book.

First of all, this is a debut? Yo.

This book absolutely does not read like a debut. It's written with all the polish & originality you'd expect from an author well into their career.

Ryhalt Galharrow is a product of his environment. Long years spent hunting down scum in the wasteland of the Misery have coated his humanity in a fine layer of desolation.

Now, I want to speak to my fellow gamers nerds for a moment. This novel is the bastard child of
Robin Hobb
Nov 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: friends who like grim dark, fantasy readers
I must put in the usual caveat. I received this book as a gift.

Blackwing is a new entry into the Grim Dark Fantasy realm, and a well written one.

Galharrow is a hard and seasoned warrior, doing his duty as a sort of bounty hunter on the edge of a torn and terrible place called the Misery. It's a terrible rift in reality and the world, a place where horrid and contorted creatures and plants thrive.

And Galharrow has a Past.

So that's as many spoilers as you'll get from me. Venture in if you dare.

Jul 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, fantasy
When two godly forces collide, when both are cruel and don’t give a shit about humans, when you are forced to take a side, you choose the lesser evil.

The story starts with action already taking place and events happening. After trying to capture a few sympathizers who ran to the Misery, Ryhalt Galharrow receives a surprising call from his master, a Nameless called Crowfoot. After years of paying him little attention, he gives him a new mission. Vague and impossible to predict. He ends up meetin
Nicholas Eames
Jul 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Blackwing is, simply put, awesome. It's gritty, edgy, suspenseful, and often poignant. The world is unique, the characters are deeply flawed (see also: real human beings) and the pacing is breakneck from the first page to the last.

Lets face it: you're going to read this book eventually, so you'd might as well be one of the cool kids and do it sooner rather than later.

I hope, and highly suspect, you'll enjoy the ride as much as I did.
Bentley ★
Aug 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc
See this review and more on

Every time I step into a new fantasy adventure, I'm like a kid on Christmas morning. There's something about the prospect of fantasy journeying to so many unexpected places and showing the reader all sorts of new, unexpected and magical things that fuels my love for the genre. So when I saw a number of my friends in the blogging community raving about this fantasy debut, I knew I had to get my hands on it. Thankfully, the Netgalley Gods sm
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Review first posted on Fantasy Literature:

Blackwing (2017) begins in Misery, but things will get far worse before they get better. This gritty fantasy is set on a world where there are three moons ― red, blue and gold ― whose light can be woven into magical power and stored in canisters for use by sorcerers. Two unimaginably powerful magical forces face off against each other across the terrible void called the Misery ― a magic-blasted wasteland. On the side of mankind are the Nameless: ancient,
Petros Triantafyllou
Blackwing is one of the greatest fantasy books I've read in my life. Perfect in every possible way. Ed McDonald is on a par with Joe Abercrombie and Brandon Sanderson. Cast aside whatever you're reading and start Blackwing instead. That's all I have to say.

Find all of my reviews over on
Anthony Ryan
May 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Upon starting Blackwing it quickly gained the rare distinction of being one of those books that felt as if it had been written especially for me. Grizzled veteran and reluctant servant of the Nameless Ryhalt Galharrow spends his days hunting traitorous agents of the Deep Kings in the magical wasteland known as the Misery, until a face from the past drags him into a dark conspiracy which may lead to all out war. Ed McDonald handles the action with a deft hand and has created a compelling central ...more
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
I had high hopes for Blackwing as the blurb sounds awesome and it is almost universally loved by my Goodreads friends who have read it. Those high hopes only made the sting of disappointment all the more prominent when this turned out to be a distinctly below average fantasy story with bad writing and some of the most cringe-worthy dialogue I've encountered in a while.

The building blocks were in place for a decent story.

The World

This was one of those flintlock era fantasy books that mixed in ma
TS Chan
Jun 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc-review-copy
ARC received from ACE, Berkley Publishing Group via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

4.5 stars.

Blackwing is a remarkable debut that was gritty, original and empathetically compelling. A blend of fantasy, horror and science fiction, it gave me strong vibes of Stephen King, albeit way more accessible in that it was less mind-bending with a fluid prose that was easy to appreciate, though no less poetic when it needs to be.

The story follows the first person perspective of Ryhalt Galharrow
May 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing

"Only three kinds of people willingly enter the Misery: the desperate, the stupid, and the greedy."

This book is so different from everything I've read this year, basically is been forever since I’ve read a post-apocalyptic book and oh how I missed it.
I need to read more of it.
I was unable to stop reading from the moment I started the first chapter.

I can’t believe this is a debut if it hadn’t been mentioned in the cover of the book I would never have guessed it.
This was a very addictive and
Stefan Bach
I don’t like post-apocalyptic setting. In any medium. I don’t like reading or listening about it, nor do I like watching it (sorry Mad Max, The Road, Children of Men fans).
I find it less inspiring building a world on such concept. Somewhat lazier, to me, is building it on scraps than starting from scratch. I understand that tremendous amount of effort goes adapting a new, deranged, world on scaffolds of existing one, but in this case, again, to me, lesser (or blanker the sheet when creating
Jul 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“Just because the wolf pack fears your sling doesn’t mean you stop carrying stones.”

Blackwing is a book that throws you into the dark and bloody world of the Misery, a place that is pretty much summed up by it’s name. Ed McDonald has carved a fantastic debut in Blackwing with some really great features of fantasy.

Book 1 of The Raven’s Mark is a solid page turner, with enough set-pieces, intrigue and good general story-telling to make it a quick read. It was refreshing to read a book with clear c
Sep 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was sent this book as an ARC from the author - thank you so much, Ed! I even got a spiffy drawing of a raven :)


So, there are two ancient entities, the Deep Kings and the Nameless, in the middle of a long cycle of wars that have lasted for ages, the book didn't go into specifics about how long it's been going on, but I would guess for thousands of years. At the end of the book one of the Nameless told the MC that they've been waging a war against the Deep Kings since before humans had lang
Julia Sarene
Wow. This is one amazing mix of blood and gore, action and adventure, morals and relationships, beautiful prose and humor and a great plot to bind it all together.

Blackwing started of good, but only got better and better the farther in I went. It managed to hook me body and soul and really drag me into its world! I felt the hot desert air and smelled the danger on the wind. The world has a mix of magic and some technology - sometimes both used in one device. While I don't usually like that, it w
Eon ♒Windrunner♒
Aug 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.75 stars

Crowfoot was to blame for the Misery, if attributing blame to something like him counts for anything. He and the other Nameless are beyond the reproach of us whimpering mortals. Some people formed cults around them as if they were gods, but if Crowfoot is a god then creation isn’t worth spit. For two centuries the Nameless warred with the Deep Kings and their empire, Old Dhojara, and what had been accomplished in that time? A lot of weeping, a lot of bones turning yellow beneath the
Scott  Hitchcock

Which is a very good rating for me for Noir fiction of which I'm just not a fan. It generally reads to me like a bad 80's action movie there the main character generally brags, tells you why their nemesis is a mindless cow, brags some more, realizes they've screwed the pooch and then miraculously recover so they can brag some more.

I didn't know going in this was going to be Noir. For part of it I was also finally reading Low Town which like this piece is both Noir and Grimdark. It's sad
Feb 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-the-book
From start to finish I was excited to read this book! You follow Ryhalt Galharrow, its told from his perspective. The story is continuesly in motion and there is so much magic! All kinds even! And the Misery is insane with out of hand the spittle getting legs and running off..what!

I like how his writing gives off this gruff vibe which fits Galharrow. Its a tough world and everyone is kinda shaped up to fit it. There is the nobility that they call Cream. And wizards, and Spinners I t
Jun 27, 2017 rated it really liked it

Just got approved for this baby on Netgalley <3 <3

Can't wait!
Chelsies Reading Escape
Lately Ive been debating giving up on adult fantasy, at least until Im in the mood for slower books. Ive had such a difficult time finding ones that are fast pace without all the unnecessary fluff. If a book takes me too long to read I tend to lose interest so my search for a gripping adult fantasy has been a difficult one. Although this book isnt a favorite, it was better than I expected it to be. I think people who primarily read YA like me will find it entertaining. Its not exactly fast pace, ...more
Jun 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Captain Ryhalt Galharrow is a hardened and bitter mercenary, a fallen nobleman with a shameful and tragic past and now in service as a Blackwing, a servant of the immortal Nameless wizard referred to as Crowfoot. His service is along the Range, the border between the country of Dortmark and the devastation and corruption of the Misery, where even the sky is cracked. The Misery was created eighty years ago when the Nameless used an immense magical weapon against the forces of the Old Dhojaran Emp ...more
Rob Hayes
Nov 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is easily the quickest I have ever got through an audiobook. I struggle with audiobooks. I'm very picky when it comes to narration and rarely find time to stick my headphones in and dedicate time to listening. I'm also not very good at just sitting still and listening, I need to occupy my body in some way while I'm at it. I got through Blackwing in a single week. I was finding excuses to ignore the world, stick my headphones in and listen. My house was cleaned twice; I even scraped the wind ...more
Peter McLean
Apr 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
This thing is just magnificent.

The setting is a blasted land called the Misery that resulted from the fallout of a magical super-weapon built by an almost-god who has since disappeared. Our hero, and I use the term loosely, is Captain Galharrow of Blackwing. Blackwing itself is a sort of secret police answering directly to another almost-god, but Galharrow mostly makes his living as a bounty hunter along the frontier.

Galharrow is a beautifully broken character, a hardened alcoholic with a trag
Jul 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
* I received this for free from the publisher *

This is a debut grimdark fantasy from a wonderful new voice to the genre. Not only is Ed McDonald a solid writer throughout the story, he also managed to get his dislikable character to be someone I stuck with throughout, despite the first-person narrative. It's not so much that Captain Galharrow of the Blackwing is a disagreeable person, as that he comes across as brusque and conscientious to a fault. He is a straight-arrow leader who is keen to u
Michael Britt
Jan 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Actual rating: 3.5 stars

This wasn’t really a bad book, I loved the concept and all the elements in this book. It was just poorly executed, in my opinion. I loved the characters, loved the magic system, absolutely loved the world, but overall the book was just blah for me. It reminded me a lot of the first book in the Powder Mage trilogy. Only because they both felt like the only point of the book was to set up the world and future books. Which makes me excited to get my hands on the next one.

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Ed McDonald is a UK born fantasy writer. He writes dark, fast paced, action fantasy with a focus on well developed characters.

Ed is a medieval historian and swordsman by training. He currently lives in London, UK.

Other books in the series

Raven's Mark (3 books)
  • Ravencry (Raven's Mark #2)
  • Crowfall (Raven's Mark, #3)

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