21 February, 2011

Review - Corvus by Paul Kearney

Corvus [US] [UK] picks up 23 years after the epic march of The Ten Thousand (from The Ten Thousand if you were having trouble keeping up :D). Rictus' Dogsheads are the best of the best in all the Macht and really the only ones keeping the mercenary life alive. Rictus has become a legend as one of the few survivors of that march.

Because of his legendary status and because of the Macht's tendency toward fighting and war, Rictus is also somewhat of a target, especially for an up-and-coming leader named Corvus who wants to hire Rictus (whether he likes it or not) for his campaign.

Corvus is not your typical Macht. He doesn't quite look right or think the same, but what he does brilliantly is conquer and that's what he plans/has already partly done to the Macht people.

He needs Rictus because while Corvus is a conqueror, he wants to do so with as much aplomb and as little blood as possible and who wouldn't give up knowing Rictus and his Dogsheads are against you.

While Rictus is legendary and war is something he does best, he is also now a family man with family concerns. Stepping away from them could cost him dear especially if anyone wanted to use them against him.

After reading Corvus, it was pretty clear that Kearney uses (at least for this series) a common plotting scheme that I showed up in The Ten Thousand as well. Not that it's a bad thing either even though the word I want to use is "predictable" because it's not that. We grow attached to the characters, a minor plot is introduced that seems not to matter, set up to climax, climax, minor plot comes back to finish the reader out in the rest of the story. This is obviously a similar scheme to plenty of other authors, but I felt it really stood out in this series and mostly because Kearney is such a direct author - nothing is superfluous.

I quite enjoyed Corvus and possibly even a bit more than The Ten Thousand. While the costs don't seem as great as in The Ten Thousand, Corvus presents problems that are even greater on a personal level regarding decisions people make with their lives and families. For me, this was a more poignant novel than The Ten Thousand.

Corvus actually represents one of the main reasons I read fantasy - to be faced with situations that make you contemplate what it is to be human and what it means to do the right thing.

Why Should You Read Corvus?

This is a great second installment and as good if not better than the first. While the world that Kearney has created is an interesting background, the characters are what set this series apart. If you need a break from complicated worlds and series' and just want something straight-forward with great plot and very little to no magic, this is for you.

I'm really looking forward to the final book in the Macht trilogy, The Kings of the Morning (June 28, 2011) [US] [UK]

4 out of 5 Stars


Ryan said...

I'm a pretty big Kearney fan, but somehow Corvus has evaded my attention. I don't doubt that I'll be reading this sooner or later though. Do you know how many books he plans for this series? Does Corvus stand alone like The Ten Thousand did?

Bryce L. said...

There's only one more (Kings of the Morning) and that's it. From some interview I read at some point (yup, that's the amount of credibility I have) I read he was only planning on The Ten Thousand being a stand alone and that being the end of the Macht world for him. But, his publisher wanted more so he agreed to do two more books to make it a trilogy.

Corvus could be read as a stand alone for sure. It's got a complete story arc and resolution, although of course you'd miss the awesomeness that is The Ten Thousand.

I still need to read Monarchies of God. Hopefully this'll happen this year. :)

Ryan said...

Agreed, the Ten Thousand was pretty awesome. Funny thing is, I don't remember too many details about it. Hopefully that wont trip me up too much when I get around to reading Corvus.

In my opinion, The Monarchies of God is an amazing fantasy series. I'm proud to own the series in it's original 5 book format.

Bryce L. said...

I don't think you'll be tripped up too much. It barely references The Ten Thousand and as long as you know how epic it was, that's about it. Oh, and that Rictus is one knarly dude.

I didn't even know Monarchies of God existed until the omnibuses came out. Shows what I know. :)

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I liked this book quite a bit; you might not really need to read The Ten Thousand to understand it, though without the first book, Rictus's character is kind of flat.

Marlene Detierro said...

This is a gritty book about a harsh military campaign and the men in it. The characters are battle hardened men of honor, who fight to the death for their leaders. It's dark and violent, but it is not devoid of humanity. The characters are well written and you understand their motivations and their personalities. The book also goes into detail about the battle tactics, strategies, weapons, innovations, and supply lines needed in war. If you like battles with depth and consequences fought by battle scarred men, then this is your book.

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