Many Are The Dead by Anthony Ryan (Raven's Shadow)

I received a review copy of Many are the Dead in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Anthony Ryan and my good friend Adrian Collins at Grimdark Magazine.

This tale is set approximately ten years before the action that takes place in Blood Song. The gentleman who becomes Master Sollis, the dude who trains Vaelin Al Sorna is at the forefront of this narrative. This story is only approximately 120-pages but it is pretty excepti0nal. Anyone who has read Blood Song will adore this and honestly, it probably works amazingly as a standalone. 

The brothers of the Sixth order, alongside a lady who's been looking for an age to find a cure to this worlds equivalent of the plague venture forth. We have Sollis, the mute Smentil, Oskin, and his pet Red Ears, and the healer Elara amongst others. The cast is very well fleshed out for such a short tale.

It commences with a bloody battle with the Sixth Order fighting their enemies the Lonak's. As trained warriors they succeed but not without casualties. This Lonak warrior nation has a vendetta against our Blue-Cloaked pals. 

They travel, a group of 5 including Elera and our bloodhound friend Red Ears to find the necessary weed for the curing of this plague but things don't work out that simply. They meet creatures such as giant apes, shadow-cats and undescribable beasts. These creatures aren't very accommodating... if anything it is the opposite. 

I won't say too much more about the story. I don't normally rate short stories high but this is pretty exceptional. Within the 100 or so pages we get to know and care about all of the characters. There are a few deaths and twists which left me shellshocked and absolutely speechless. 

Sollis is a brilliant main character. You may remember him from Blood Song as Vaelin's brutal and experienced trainer. Sollis alongside mute Smentil control the narrative and it is great to see things from their point of view. Sollis was a bit of an arse in Blood Song so it's nice to find out about his roots. Young and talented with a name to gain before he was a master. 

The Lonak's and the Sixth order join forces to fight against the Dark and it's brilliant. The shaman character who can make water explode is useful when human's bodies are made up of 55% water. That's a nice skill in a war zone. There are an exceptional few set-pieces that are featured towards the finale. It's brilliantly written and great to be back in this world. To be honest. I adored this and finished it in a day. Highly recommend. x

PS. The amazing artwork is by Kevin Zemir Goeke and Shawn T King. 

8/10 It's a brilliantly written tale and it's great to be back in this world. To be honest. I adored this and finished it in a day.

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