Sunday, October 9, 2016

Book Review: Raven’s Fall by Lincoln Cole

Extending the Mystery and Character Development in this Second of the Series

Raven’s Fall is the second in the World on Fire Series by Lincoln Cole. 

One question readers often ask about a series is, do I need to read the books in order.  In this case, I would highly recommend that you do.  This work extends our understanding of a couple of the main characters, Abigail and Haatim, as well as our feel for the Council.  The foundation in book 1 is important to these developments.  And besides, you only need to see the acclaim book 1, Raven’s Peak is achieving, to know that it’s the place to start.

The first book used a formula featuring action, supported by some good character development and a touch of humor.  Raven’s Fall, on the other hand, delves much more deeply into the mystery and suspense of our demon-plagued world.  Most of this tension is created through the storyline, as unfinished thoughts and events that don’t quite add up fuel our interest.  But there are also occasions where, for want of a better description, we’re told there’s a mystery.  It occurs in conversations of the ilk, ‘you wouldn’t be mad if you understood.  So tell me.  No, I can’t, it’s too dangerous.’  These more blatant proclamations that there’s more than meets the eye are somewhat overused for my tastes.  But most of the mystery is resolved by a strong, action filled finale.

I said ‘mostly resolved’ because the book does end with a cliff hanger.  For readers that prefer books of a series that are self-contained, please be forewarned.

From book 1, it is clear that Abigail is somewhat reckless and clearly not bound by rules not of her making, i.e., the laws of the Council.  In Raven’s Fall, we learn much more about how flawed she might be.  Haatim, on the other hand, continues to adhere to his principles…at least for now, and achieves his successes through a combination of blind luck and knee-jerk reactions when he has no time to think.  He also engages in a series of mental debates with himself, which is fine in principle.  But sometimes, he goes back and forth so much that ‘paralyzed by indecision’ seems to fit his personality better than analytic.  And some of the dialog also involves these protracted debates.  When this happens, the story can drag a bit, but it generally moves at a good pace. 

We also get a more complex view of the Council, which seemed largely stodgy and out of touch with reality in book 1.  But in Raven’s Fall, it’s clear that their members are both more in-tune and more flawed than we might have thought.  It almost gets to the point where picking the protagonist and antagonist from the cast of characters is impossible, they all have their pros and cons.  Well, I guess the demons are always bad, but the good guys?  Not so much.
Personally, I loved that fact.  There’s no one white knight, which in thrillers is often the young, handsome Navy Seal turned brilliant neuro-surgeon after running an orphanage for 5 years.  Raven’s Fall offers us a wonderful quagmire of personal strengths and weaknesses, abilities and flaws, good intentions, successes, and utter failures.
So, if you are a fan of stories of the occult and the battle between sometimes and in some ways good vs. always and utterly evil, you’ll love Raven’s Fall.