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07/18/2004 Entry: "RAVEN'S SHADOW by Briggs -- a "sink-into-the-story" read (Preeti)"

Either Patricia Briggs is becoming a better writer with every book or my tastes are changing quite a bit. As much as I'd liked her previous work, DRAGON BLOOD, it wasn't a "sink-into-the-story" read for me. With RAVEN'S SHADOW, I sank!

RAVEN'S SHADOW begins in the aftermath of war, when a young soldier making his way home to a baker's life saves the life of a Traveler girl from murderous villagers. The wandering clans of Travelers are persecuted and killed because their magic powers are feared. This particular Traveler, a mage named Seraph, is alone in the world, so Tier takes her home to his mountain village, where he marries her and embarks on a farmer's life.

Tier immediately captures your heart with his open mind and generous heart. He's a trademark Briggs hero--based on the two Briggs books I've now read, anyway--quietly heroic, loyal, gentle, loving, easy-going, yet a fighter when he needs to be. Seraph is proud, strong, and fierce.

Fast forward twenty years and they have three kids, two almost full-grown, and are somehow making do as farmers. But when Tier goes missing and dark magic is involved, Seraph knows that she cannot deny her own heritage as a shadow-fighter or keep her kids in the dark about their own magical natures. The family sets out to save Tier. Tier, meanwhile, is caught in a dark, magical conspiracy involving the throne and is managing to save the land and its ruler through his own unique strengths, magical and otherwise.

Really, you care about these people so much. They are strong and decent, each unique and interesting in his or her own right. The feelings between husband and wife were lovely to see, and the budding romance between Seraph and Tier's oldest son and another Traveler mage was sexy and amusing. Briggs' strength is in her characterization, but I appreciated the pace of action and the worldbuilding in RAVEN'S SHADOW too. She writes gritty yet not graphic stories.

I've only read one other Briggs book in full, the aforementioned DRAGON BLOOD, but already I can see she has an affinity for certain themes and characters that fans will find familiar. Well, I'm a fan now, too, and look forward to revisiting the characters. RAVEN'S SHADOW is the first book of a duology, but it stands well on its own. Recommended. --Preeti

--RAVEN'S SHADOW at Amazon
--RAVEN'S SHADOW review page

For more about Patricia Briggs, check out our feature article and interview.

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