Descent of Ravens (Bel’s War #1) by A.C. Andrews | Review

The old covenant of the gods is broken. Will the world break, too?

When an army of vampires invades the island of Trosika, Rio and Turi must fight for their future. Rio is a healer and a priest of Astara who suffers severe self-doubt and a growing crisis of faith; even his goddess cannot stop the forces arrayed against them. Turi has long buried a secret about himself that he fears could upend everything.

When Rio unseals a centuries-old tomb, releasing the immortal and cursed prince Philip, he discovers that he has a bond with Philip that stretches across lifetimes. As Turi grapples with his secrets, he is recruited by the terrifying goddess Mormo and gifted with necromancy for reasons he does not understand.

Rio and Turi must contend with bloodthirsty mages, battle an endless army of vampires, and confront the truth of who Turi truly is; most of all, they must rely on their unshakable friendship to survive. As they struggle to protect each other, their religion, and their island home, the fate of an empire hangs in the balance.

Descent of Ravens is an epic fantasy with gay, trans, and non-binary protagonists, rich world-building, and dark adventure!

How was it?

I listened to the audiobook version of this book and the first hurdle I faced was the narration. Isaac Grisham had a winy voice for this. I don’t know if it was specific to this book or not because it was my first time with Grisham but it took a while for me to get used to it. So besides the grating tone, the performance was serviceable. It did the job.

Storywise, it also took me a while to fully immerse in that world because the world-building is somewhat complex and unique but mostly slow. But there’s a barrage of information that is served slowly and in small chunks, which should have worked, but many important details were often presented in an innocuous way that they were sometimes bypassed. A few times I found myself going back because a tiny piece of info that seemed unimportant, at first, took significance later and I wasn’t even zombie reading* – well zombie listening to the story.

Once the gods, their followers, the magic, the vampires, and all that world are grasped, it is pretty fun. I really enjoyed the adventure the characters went on, their growth through their ordeal is in fact one of the best things about this novel. There is a clear and steady character growth for Rio, who annoyed me at first particularly paired with that voice, and Turi, who I liked right away despite the bad jokes. I liked seeing them come into their powers and gain confidence with each obstacle they faced.

The romance is only suggested in this novel, there is some but it comes in later and it’s clearly not the focus of the story. It didn’t impede my enjoyment of this book but I wished it had been smoother. I’m definitely going to check out the next entry Will of Dragons Bel’s War Book 2.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Descent of Ravens is available on The Book Depository website and other book retailers near you.

*Zombie reading: reading something without really processing any of the words on the page. One often wonders how they got a particular section, with little to no recollection of what came before, after zombie reading.

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