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The Raveling #2

The Silver Sorceress

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The epic story begun in The Crimson Queen continues . . .

Following the deadly assault on the Scholia by the kith’ketan, Keilan and Nel pursue the paladin Senacus south, hoping to catch him before he can vanish into the Gilded Cities. Nel desires vengeance for the death of her lover, while Keilan hopes to find answers about the immortal sorcerers who sought to challenge the Crimson Queen . . .

In the Empire of Swords and Flowers a young woman is called upon to avenge her father’s death and return honor to her family . . .

And after a millennia-long imprisonment, the monstrous Chosen are again free to work their dark will upon the world of man . . .

499 pages, Kindle Edition

First published October 2, 2019

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Alec Hutson

18 books562 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 125 reviews
Profile Image for Petrik.
675 reviews43k followers
February 20, 2020
A remarkable sequel, I really can't get enough of reading Hutson's writing.

“No matter where you go in the world, those with a little authority—but no real power—are all the same.”

If it has been a while since you’ve read the first book, do know that Hutson was kind enough to include a detailed recap of the previous book at the beginning. I’m still baffled why this hasn’t become a standard in fantasy series yet. The Silver Sorceress is the second book in The Raveling series by Alec Hutson. The story takes place immediately after what happened at the end of The Crimson Queen. A vision foretold by the Oracle of Lyr shows that the city of Menekar will be visited by a destructive doom in the future. The vision also shows that a silver-haired sorceress has the power to slay the harbinger of the Raveling—an act of cataclysm that destroyed the ancestral homeland of Shan a long time ago. Keilan's new mission is to find this Silver Sorceress and prevent the arrival of the new Raveling. I’ll begin this review by honestly saying that I loved The Crimson Queen more than The Silver Sorceress, which shouldn’t come as a surprise because The Crimson Queen is one of my favorite fantasy debuts; writing a sequel that lives up to its quality completely is a difficult task. Also, there’s a bit of the infamous second book syndrome in this novel; the story didn’t progress a lot, and the entire book did feel like a preparation for the third book. That said, I had a great time reading this book, and it’s definitely another great installment in the series.

“Not all answers are found in books, Keilan.” “No,” he whispered to himself, too quiet for her to hear, “but even if they don’t have the answer, perhaps they can help me ask the right question.”

With descriptions like architecture made out of human parts and a few atrocities I can’t mention due to spoiler reasons, it’s not an exaggeration to say that The Silver Sorceress is slightly darker in tone compared to its predecessor. However, I can’t deny that it felt comfortable for me to be back in the world of Araen. People who know me know that I don’t usually read two books at the same time, I was in the middle of reading An Echo of Things to Come by James Islington, and despite that book being utterly incredible, I couldn’t wait any longer to start The Silver Sorceress. Not only this installment features less battle scenes, but there also weren’t any intense scenes per se with the exception for the final 10% of the novel. But I can’t help it; the world-building of this world may not be revolutionary for the genre, but the details and multi-cultural world-building implementation accompanied by Hutson’s beautiful prose is what made the series stand out to me. Plus, Hutson continues to discuss the importance of overcoming differences in belief in the pursuit of peace and power that worked very well for the narrative.

“The strong take what they want from the weak. But power unearned by suffering or discipline corrupts the soul.”

This, of course, doesn’t mean that the characters weren’t well-realized. Although I would’ve preferred more pages given to deeper characterizations for all the main characters, Hutson once again achieved a great balance in giving the spotlight to Keilan and the other perspective characters. It was intriguing to see whether Keilan will keep being compassionate or not as he continues to learn sorcery, and seeing the other characters learning to work together despite their differences. Same as the previous book, I enjoyed reading all the chapters.

“Every follower of Ama chooses an Aspect of the Radiant Father to guide their actions. Some choose anger or hate. I do not—the Aspect I try to hold in my heart is compassion. And I think you are the same.”

I would, however, give special recognition to the new main character being introduced in this book: Cho Lin from The Empire of Swords and Flowers. Cho Lin seeks revenge for the death of her father, and her task of bringing honor to her family by wielding The Sword of Cho contained some of the most engrossing chapters in the series for me so far. Remember what I said that Hutson's prose reminded me of Staveley's prose, well there’s another similarity now, the abilities and skills Cho Lin gained—Nothing within the Self—from training in the Red Fang mountain were redolent of Kaden's vaniate—a state of emptiness—in The Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne series. The Sword of Cho and the wrath of the Shan are eager for the total annihilation of The Raveling; evil must not prevail.

“Loyalty and honesty are what you should look for in your friends and servants. The fawning and groveling types might burnish the image of yourself you keep in your head, and that is certainly pleasurable, but in the end it only leaves you more likely to make mistakes.”

Seeing that The Empire of Swords and Flowers are more prominent to the story now, that also means more Asian-inspired elements being infused into the world-building. I loved it, I always enjoy reading Asian-inspired fantasy novels, and Hutson’s series has been filled with it without neglecting Western influences as well. Clothes like Cheongsam, names like Phoenix Throne, Jade Court, and so many other subtle inclusion ranging from cultures, behaviors, to food were wonderfully put. We also get to learn more about sorcery, the kith'ketan, the shadowblades, the Red Fang, and the Raveling. Learning about the lore of the world and how it affects the current predicament just never gets old to me.

“The merchant who first brought them in called them parasols, because their original name is unpronounceable. They’re from Shan. Apparently, in the Empire of Swords and Flowers the noblewomen carry them around to keep the sun from browning their skin.”

I've raved about how much I loved Hutson's prose in my review of The Crimson Queen, and this notion continues here. I don’t need to elaborate further on this, what I said in my review of the previous book applies here again, and Hutson’s writing is hands down what I loved more about reading this series. Seriously, just give this series a read; you’ll see Hutson demonstrates a writing skill that would make so many authors jealous. I have included so many quotes in both my reviews, but believe me, I have highlighted cumulatively fifty passages across the series so far, that’s something I very rarely do, and it’s such a shame I can’t share them all.

“The first thing he noticed was the sky. It was a dull white, like during the coldest days of winter, without a cloud to be seen. But it was not empty. A gash of deep red resembling an open wound spread across the sky, as if the dawn itself had been smeared across the heavens. And from this stain more red was trickling, a lighter shade but still vivid. The sky was bleeding.”

The Raveling is gradually becoming one of my favorite indie series along with Ash and Sand by Richard Nell and Manifest Delusions by Michael R. Fletcher, Hutson just need to nail the landing in the third book now, and it will get that status. The Silver Sorceress is a great sequel that wonderfully sets up all the plotlines to be closed in the final book of the trilogy. I can’t wait to find out how it all concludes; I look forward to reading The Shadow King very soon.

Picture: The Silver Sorceress by John Anthony di Giovanni

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Profile Image for Deborah Obida.
673 reviews604 followers
May 9, 2021
“But power unearned by suffering or discipline corrupts the soul.”

This entire series is a journey book, funny thing is I don’t mind. The characters are barely in one place for long. I love the friendship in this book.

This book picked up just where book one ended with Nila and Keilan going after Senacus. This book is still as slow as the first one, though there were lots of new information and characters.

Cho Lin is one of the new characters, she is from the empire of swords and flowers, she is also a master swords woman, her skill with the sword is amazing. Keilan improved as a character, he is no longer the naive village boy though he is still untrained.

“The entire edifice had been built so that the powerful could extract what they wanted from the weak”

Senacus is awesome, he is pious but has his own mind, he likes Keilan and I love their relationship. His skill with the sword is admirable.

Though Nila was in this she didn’t add much to the story. Jan is still a bit of a mystery. Damien is not exactly good but compared to Alynna he is a saint, Alynna is a monster.

The writing is awesome, it’s comprehensive and fast paced, I love the way the author depicts the use of magic and fight scenes. The book is written in third person multiple POV. Same goes for the world building, it’s great, it’s so easy to picture what is being read.

The plot is about the title, an oracle showed them a vision of the future, with corpses everywhere and the world all but destroyed, only the silver sorceress have a weapon that can kill the raveling(the demon children that works for Alynna). Cho Lin is from a family that their job is to imprison the raveling.
Profile Image for Jody .
201 reviews134 followers
May 13, 2021
Wow! What an upgrade from book 1! Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed The Crimson Queen. But, The Silver Sorceress took the story to the next level. I was glued to this from the first page all the way to the very last sentence. Beginning book 3 right away! Full RTC!

“Even the bravest of men cannot accept their end when it finally comes swirling down.”

Actual Rating: 4.5 stars ****
Profile Image for Jon Adams.
294 reviews57 followers
October 9, 2018
Holy Cliffhanger Batman!

This was even better than the first and I can't wait for the next one.
Profile Image for Adam.
374 reviews164 followers
October 23, 2018
I have a special place in my heart for Alec Hutson’s The Crimson Queen. Almost two years and a hundred books ago, this was the first self-published novel from an unknown (to me) author that I decided to check out. Thanks to the reddit fantasy board and other social media communities, The Crimson Queen garnered a strong enough buzz to intrigue me. “But how good could it really be? It’s self-published!” I scoffed. Turns out, it was more enjoyable than many of the traditionally published fantasy I had been reading at the time. A valuable lesson was learned. This was a big turning point for me, as a new world of fantasy options became immediately apparent. What else was I missing out on? Now, the great majority of fantasy books I read are self-published; there’s a huge number of talented authors who are writing and marketing their own books, and it’s been a joy to discover quality works seemingly every week. And it all comes back to Hutson’s work. Perhaps I would have been more dismissive of self-published books if I didn’t like The Crimson Queen so much. Who knows? But I’m glad it turned out the way it did.

The Silver Sorceress, book two of The Raveling trilogy, has a high bar set before it. In The Crimson Queen, Hutson has created a detailed setting for this series where history, religion, and geography were neatly intertwined in a complex, world-spanning narrative. The sequel expands the story’s reach even further, to the Eastern-influenced land of the southern Shan, to hidden islands in the far reaches of the Broken Sea, to the snow-covered mountains in the desolate Frostlands of the north. Thankfully – and I wish more authors did this – Hutson has provided a “catch up on the history of the world” foreword, as well as informing us where all the characters were left off in a “The Story So Far…” segment before the new book begins. This is hugely appreciated, as I likely would have had to re-read The Crimson Queen to recall the important details of the story if these segments weren’t included.

We pick up immediately where we last left our characters. Keilan and Nel are chasing the paladin Senacus from the court of the recently-invaded Crimson Queen to the city of Lyr, where Senacus hopes to find amnesty and protection. Keilan believes Senacus knew about the invasion, as one of its leaders, the sorcerer Demian, was Senacus’ traveling companion before the attack. While the Queen’s court was able to defy the attack from Demian and his band of shadowblade assassins, not everyone survived. Keilan needs answers, especially after learning about a band of sorcerers from a millennium ago who broke the world to achieve their immortality… and someone who looks just like his dead mother was one of them.

Demian, wounded from the failed attack on the Crimson Queen’s court in Herath, ventures back across the continent to find Alyanna the Weaver. She is the sorceress responsible for organizing the spell that gave her cadre immortality at the cost of untold millions of souls from centuries ago. But Alyanna is captured by a shapeshifting creature that she thought she could control and is now faced with having her power and influence forever stripped away.

We are introduced to a new POV character, my personal favorite, named Cho Lin. She is the daughter of a respected Cho warrior who died in the first novel and she has inherited his sword. This sword has been passed down for generations through the Cho family, and is legendary for helping to rid the world of The Betrayers, a group of demonic children who have the power to lay waste to the world. Lin reluctantly leaves her spiritual training to seek out the The Betrayers, who have shown signs of escaping their prison (thanks, Alyanna!) and returning to ravage the world. I found Lin to be a compelling lead, as her heritage and values are drawn from Chinese history and mythology (with which Hutson has strong familiarity as a full-time resident of Shanghai.) I enjoyed seeing Lin experience culture shock and a curiosity of the “barbarian” principles in ways that felt authentic and respectful. Seeing how Lin, a noble of high station, interacts and adjusts to foreign customs was one of my favorite aspects to the story. She was forced to suppress some of her core values to progress further in her quest, and I greatly enjoyed rooting for her while she faced most of her challenges alone.

As you’ve probably gathered by now, there is a lot going on here. There’s journeys of self-discovery, rousing humor, and plenty of mysteries to unpack. New events are rapidly deployed that constantly change the direction of the story. The audience is transported to a new location with nearly every shift in POV, yet Hutson does a remarkable job of keeping all the plot threads captivating and easy to follow. We are given insight into the minds of some of the more heinous characters in the cast, which gives our villains welcome depth and dimension. Although we should be rooting against some of these horrific people, Hutson still manages to make me care when they are endangered. The one drawback I noticed, and this is subjective, is that the action scenes are bit fewer and further between than the first book. There are more threats of violence than actual fighting that occurs. But since the story moves so quickly, and we’re never in one location for too long, the book never feels sluggish or dull.

The Silver Sorceress combines all the classic ingredients of an epic fantasy tale, including a well-developed cast, tantalizing mysteries, a broad range of conflicting cultures, and strong character arcs. Hutson’s engaging prose utilizes a wide vocabulary, clever analogies, and efficacious dialogue. This is a book of movement and discovery that reaches all four corners of the map. The increasing expansiveness of this world and its careful detailing of its culture and history has augmented this story in powerful and exciting ways. I could not have guessed where these characters would end up by book’s end and can only imagine how events are going to play out in the finale. If you’re a fan of The Crimson Queen, then you should absolutely pick up The Silver Sorceress. You won’t regret it.
Profile Image for Jeffrey Hall.
Author 29 books21 followers
September 28, 2018
I had the pleasure of reading this before it's release, and my, it did not disappoint.

Hutson once more brings readers to an unforgettable world with memorable new characters and places that truly stick with you. His prose is effortless and silky smooth, painting the beauty of his world with each page.

We once more follow young, budding sorcerer, Keilan, on his journey to uncover the darkness swelling beneath his world. His arc is extremely satisfying and fulfilling. Bring in the other POV characters and their emotional stories, and you have something truly special.

No sophomore slump here. The Silver Sorceress is one of the best sequels I've read.
Profile Image for The Nerd Book Review.
153 reviews70 followers
September 29, 2018
I think I was the first person to read this book once it came back from editing through sheer luck, I messaged him asking when the book would be ready a few minutes after he got it back from his editor haha.
This novel is a 5* for me for sure. I am currently in the middle of a re-listen of the Wheel of Time series that I loved as youth and in some ways that is the series I would say reminds me of the WoT the most without all the unnecessary extra description that can bog down Jordan's work. Keilan is a PoV character who is a "chosen one" archetype who isn't reticent about the abilities that he is growing into and Alyanna is who I wish Lanfear had turned into in the WoT novels.
This is a true Epic fantasy written in a modern style that is riveting and fast paced. If you enjoyed The Crimson Queen you will love this one as I did.
Profile Image for Bogdan.
895 reviews1 follower
June 14, 2019
A lot of four and five stars out there, but I must say that after the amazing first volume this was a little disappointing.
The whole action has a quite straight forward direction and there is only a big surprise in the end zone of the book.
The first book felt that it had a small closure, but this one doesn`t have any. You have to read the next one to really know what will happen to our heroes.
Overall, for me, this felt like a three stars reading .
Profile Image for Dustin.
158 reviews11 followers
March 26, 2020

Epic fantasy. Traditional fantasy. High Fantasy. Whatever the label or sub-genre The Raveling series falls under, thats usually my least favorite type of fantasy book. I say usually because I don’t like labels and despite “the young boy from humble beginnings” trope, Alec Hutson is a damn good writer and I enjoyed The Silver Sorceress. I don’t usually like “the ancient and over powered magic-wielder” trope either but this series is full of those and it makes for an interesting read in the right hands.

This is a middle book and it is setting things up for a big, chaotic conclusion. Not much action in this one though, and it took me a relatively long time to read. Still, the last 10% was pretty exciting and I am definitely going to pick up the last book and see where The Raveling takes us.
Profile Image for Mike (the Paladin).
3,145 reviews1,820 followers
May 26, 2021
Well...okay. We pick up here at the moment we left book 1 however we also jump across the fantasy world and pick up a new plot string and an additional "main" character. As we learn more about the Raveling (and indeed what the Raveling is) things seem to spiral out of control (at least a bit). We have now introduced an Asian flavored part to the story...and actually done it pretty well.

As our "heroes" try to take the prophecy they received from the Oracle and act upon it to avert the next cataclysm they are faced with the question, will they actually bring about the prophecy by trying to avert it?

As the strings of plot flail out the story does hold together and while the book's ending is more like just a typical cliffhanger...the next book is out.

And I've gone right to it.

Profile Image for ConciseAlan.
168 reviews4 followers
February 18, 2022
Solid sequel to the first book in the series, "The Crimson Queen," and it picks up immediately after the first one ends. We have some really good new characters. One thing I like about this series is the bad guys. Some are wicked for what they believe are good reasons, and some are just plain wicked for the raw personal gain. The writing is excellent.

Second read: Abrupt ending but really great writing.
Profile Image for Ryan Mueller.
Author 9 books80 followers
May 16, 2019
This was a great continuation of the story that began in The Crimson Queen. There's so much mystery in this world, and I love finding out what's really going on. There were some startling revelations toward the end of the book. It wasn't super heavy on action, but that didn't keep it from being a great book.

Rating: 9/10
Profile Image for David.
198 reviews6 followers
October 24, 2018
Wow. Just wow. Okay, now let's just get this out of the way - this one starts a bit slow, even slower than the first one. I was getting a little nervous - as Hutson was really laying a lot of expanded work, adding new characters, and I was afraid this was going to not live up to my expectations. That may sound a little harsh, but after the debacle that was the sequel to Anthony Ryan's Blood Song, those of you that suffered through that can understand why I got nervous. But I persevered, and as you can tell from my rating, I was not disappointed.

This book is like a boulder, and it picks up speed and then suddenly it's over - and I was like wait, what? Now I have to wait a year to find out what happens next? The new characters turned out to be great and interesting additions and the massive expansion of the world REALLY pays off by the end of the book.

If you liked the first one, this was a great follow up. If you didn't like the first one...well, I'd say read it again, because it, and its sequel, are fantastic throw back fantasy novels to a more optimistic age of fantasy. I will be pre-ordering the next novel in the series as soon as I can.
Profile Image for Karla Schneider.
743 reviews12 followers
June 13, 2020
It's all very underwhelming. There were some surprise twists and deaths, but the core of the plot isn't moving at all. No, maybe it's just the main character who's not moving at all. He ceased to have any value in the scope of things. There's a handful of other talents, weapons and even battles that occurred, and he's not in any of them. If anything, his personality has gotten worse from before he left his village. All he does is complain and by the love of god, has not even learned a single spell. I wouldn't mind slow progression from stupidity to not so stupid; if there was 10 books to work with. But the series end the next book, and this kid could be erased and the plot wouldn't change at all. Which makes me wonder why he's here. Seriously, there's 4 perspectives: Entourage, Scarlet court, Shadowblades, Chinese girl. So this kid that's supposedly the main character only gets 12% of the screen time, and he wastes it whining about how the world isn't covered in rainbows.
Profile Image for Calvin Park.
183 reviews43 followers
March 20, 2019
If you are looking for classic epic fantasy in the vein of David Eddings, Robert Jordan, or James Islington, then you absolutely need to give Alec Hutson’s The Silver Sorceress a shot. This is the second in his The Raveling series, picking up right where The Crimson Queen left off. I’m a huge fan of epic fantasy and after thoroughly enjoying The Crimson Queen I was looking forward to getting my hands on the sequel. While, for me, it didn’t quite live up to the first novel, I still thoroughly enjoyed and can happily recommend it.

In typical fashion, this story is one part coming-of-age and one part save the world. One of the things that I really enjoy about Hutson’s writing, and this is certainly true here in The Silver Sorceress, is how he weaves both big and small stakes. In other words, the overarching plotline of saving the world intersects at various points with much more personal issues for all the viewpoint characters. This is one of the things that keeps the pages turning. While being epic in scope, there is also a personal dimension, and I think this is really essential. I also have to praise the world building in this novel. Hutson has done an incredible job of crafting a world that feels old and living. There are thousands of years of history, and I’d really love a peek at the wiki where he keeps all this stuff straight. I could probably spend hours there. I’m a fan of deep world building and you get that in spades with Hutson’s work. There are also plenty of plot twists and shifting allegiances in this book. It isn’t particularly political, in the sense of nations threatening one another or changing loyalties, but there are enough twists and turns at a more personal level to keep things interesting. I don’t want to spoil anything, so suffice it to say that a friend one moment may be an enemy the next, and yet again a friend before things are over. Hutson manages to write these shifts without feeling jarring and without making the characters seem insincere.

There were a couple things that didn’t work for me. The first of those is that this book suffered a bit from second book syndrome, in that it didn’t have as much of a climax and ending as the first one. It often feels to me like second books feel too much like the middle of a story without much in the way of beginning or ending. In fairness, it’s incredibly difficult to write a second book that still follows a self-contained story arc while being part of a larger story. I’m not faulting Hutson too much for this, but I would have liked to have seen more of a climax in this book. Another thing I would have liked to have seen was a little more explanation to how magic works. This is often a complaint I have in books where magic plays a pivotal role in scenes. This reveals a preference of mine for harder, more fleshed out magic systems.

All told, The Silver Sorceress is classic epic fantasy that will please fans of the genre. I thoroughly enjoyed this entry in the series and I’m looking forward to the next one as well.

4.25/5 stars.

5 – I loved this, couldn’t put it down, move it to the top of your TBR pile
4 – I really enjoyed this, add it to the TBR pile
3 – It was ok, depending on your preferences it may be worth your time
2 – I didn’t like this book, it has significant flaws and I can’t recommend it
1 – I loathe this book with a most loathsome loathing
Profile Image for Raysa.
97 reviews29 followers
April 16, 2020
So I didn't like this one as much as The Crimson Queen. I felt there was a lot of running around to get nowhere in this book. Keilan's storyline struggled to hold my attention, and most of the others simply weren't as gripping. The best and most exciting chapters were the Cho Lin one's, and I'll be interested to see what happens with her character. There wasn't that much that surprised, other than a betrayal that was bound to happen eventually and just happened more abruptly than I had expected. Overall, it wasn't bad but it didn't hold my attention like the last one. I will be curious to see how the next one goes.
Profile Image for Mark.
Author 2 books96 followers
September 28, 2019
I enjoyed book one, but this book-book two- was fantastic!

In fact I am quite annoyed that this is only a trilogy because it means the next book is the end! I want to spend more time in this world and wallow in it's lore and societies and politics and people. It's so exciting, I can't wait to see what happens next!

If you enjoy Robert Jordan, Melissa McPhail and Raymond E. Feist, then you'll you enjoy this.
Profile Image for Paul Wandless.
78 reviews4 followers
May 10, 2019
This was a great follow up to Crimson Queen. I like the new characters & cultures he added to an already interesting world. He did an excellent job of broadening his world with new areas and also reinforcing and deepening some areas we've already seen. Although he has 3 unique story line going, they are handled well. Alec has a knack for staying with a story line long enough to not feel rushed or too long as he alternates through them. I felt that most of the characters continued along interesting arcs and had good individual growth as well. Alec is a great story teller and world builder with characters I really enjoy and feel invested in what is happening to them. I look forward to his next book in this series.
6 reviews
September 25, 2020
The second book in the series “The Raveling”, “The Silver Sorceress” continues the story of young Keilan, beginning from the point where the preceding novel, “The Crimson Queen”, left off. The epic scope of the tale develops further in this book, showcasing a mastery of plotting on the part of author Alec Hutson. I felt this book was slightly less strong than the first, but I’ve finished this series now, and it is one of the best fantasy series I have ever read. The few shortcomings and issues that I feel it has do not at all diminish it. It is a complete work of epic fantasy with a thoroughly satisfactory conclusion. The series does not suffer from any want.

As it unfolds, Hutson courteously provides both a historical abridgment of the lands (Araen) and a synopsis of the events of the first book, and then the reader is right back at the wreckage of the Crimson Queen’s Saltstone Palace in Dymoria, reeling along with Keilan and Nel at the losses they incurred with Alyanna’s attack upon Queen Cein d’Kara. I particularly appreciate a good in-series synopsis, as it shows a sensitivity towards readers who may need or like reminders of salient points. (It’s highly practical when there’s an interlude between novel publications as well, but I read this trilogy back-to-back within a week’s span.)

Just as the preceding book was not about its namesake, this book is not really about “The Silver Sorceress”, but the quest to find her and the role that she plays in Keilan’s development as a wizard and growth as a young man. She’s a catalyst: she affects the equation of events but she is not personally affected by them, or more so to the point, she is not troubled by the notion of demons destroying Araen except for how it will eventually alter her own mysterious plans. Her presence is chiefly to reveal the characters and natures of those who come into contact with her, namely Keilan and Senacus.

Hutson again uses shifting points-of-view to tell the story, focusing on Keilan, Senacus, Alyanna, and newcomer Cho Lin. It’s a good method for making revelations that much more poignant to the reader and the characters, and his characterization is masterful. Secondary characters, like Lady Numil of Lyr and her bodyguard, Telion, are as tightly woven and brightly displayed as the main characters. The relationships that various characters have serve to showcase personal development as much as the action and plot revelations do. In this book we see unlikely companionships form, and new dynamics to existing relationships.

There is a budding relationship between Nel and Senacus, and Nel’s existing bond with Keilan continues to grow revealing a much more tender side to Nel than her talk ever shows. We see more of Demian’s and Alyanna’s bittersweet friendship, which reveals a great deal about each of them. There is even a deepening relationship that we see in brief glimpses of Queen d’Kara and the magister Vhelan. For those who also love Jan, he is in this novel, but he is not a POV character this time. There are logistical reasons for this, but fret not for we get to discover more about him. It thrilled me!

My favourite highlights are in the Keilan and Senacus chapters. Keilan and Senacus are two of the best “good” characters I have ever come across in any work of fiction; I simply love reading their perspectives. Each of them displays compassion and caring, and consistently strives to do the right thing for the right reasons. For the same reasons that Samwise Gamgee, humble gardener is the true hero of “The Lord of the Rings”, Keilan and Senacus show true courage and nobility of character throughout this story. We readers can count on them to do what’s right even when we’re not watching them. And they are true to character: Senacus is conflicted over the use of magic, struggling to assimilate what he learns of Keilan and the other Dymorian mages through him, while Keilan sometimes acts exactly like a sullen teenaged boy who is trying to get what he wants even when he knows it’s not feasible. At other times, Keilan is highly introspective and analytical, showing a maturity beyond his years. They’re likeable and believable as characters, as people.

Cho Lin is, unfortunately, a bit more of an archetype than she is an individualized character; she’s much like Odysseus, being essentially the same at the end of the story as she is when she enters. It’s not that she doesn’t have or display personal character—she’s quite likeable, I think—but that her role in the story overshadows her character. Maybe it’s supposed to be that way, given her desire to become the Nothing. However, even in her mistakes, she is a little too perfect and precise, and the grievous error she made at the beginning of the story should have resulted in her death. Because she is a good character and I want to see her succeed in her personal trials as well as in the grand epic, it was easy to forgive her (and Hutson) when she escaped—but she escaped all too easily, and all under her own power in a situation that really had rendered her powerless. Yes, it’s nice when a female character is self-sufficient, but I find Nel to be a much better portrayed character, showing strength of character, physical prowess, and womanly attributes. Nel is a whole character, and a complete woman. Even Alyanna’s great power (or Queen d’Kara’s) doesn’t come across as over-the-top the way that Cho Lin’s does, and they are very much individuals and women with personal agenda.

Also, to me, Cho Lin’s combat scenes read as scripted results, where she performs dazzling feats to awe her enemies before killing or humiliating them. Yes, she is utilizing a supernatural force (through the Nothing) so the power to do these things is there. But the result is highly stylized, which is less fantasy to me than it is modern film. To reiterate, though, like Odysseus, she is a very relatable and admirable character. She even has the same thwarted desires towards living a simple that he possesses. I like her, I do. I just find her to be less substantial and meaty than the other women in this story—she lacks the agency that other, weaker characters, possess. For instance, Lady Numil, a secondary character, completely overshadows her with force of character. (Lord above, how I love Lady Numil! Old women like here are the bones of our society. God, how I love a tartar. Agatha Christie has them in spades, and they’re simply wonderful. My own Nana was one. I love, love, love Lady Numil.)

Here is the problem: When Cho Lin accomplishes the impossible it is because her character must achieve that goal, not because she, Cho Lin the young woman and would-be demonslayer, steadfastly believes in her mission and refuses to give up. Some could stop right here and say that I mean she has Plot Armour. Hush. I’ve decided that she doesn’t, but I’m writing this review of Book Two of “The Raveling” after having read Book Three and completing this trilogy; I have the benefit of seeing the end of this thread. To the reader going solely by “The Silver Sorceress” alone, yeah… Cho Lin has plot armour. Put that aside, because I don’t believe that most fantasy fans will care about that. This story is so grandiose that this one character’s function cannot alter the beauty of the tale and the scope of the adventure. (Some readers may even embrace Cho Lin fully and gush about how “kick-ass” she is. I’m not that kind of reader. Too much wire-fu in a movie or book and my eyes glaze over, then I start skimming to get past it.) However, looking at Cho Lin through the lens of the entire trilogy, I think that “The Silver Sorceress” shows that Cho Lin is more of an archetype, being more her role and less her self.

Furthermore, this archetypal impression that I have of her may be an intentional action on the part of the author. After all, Cho Lin is unsure of her place as warrior in her family. It was not supposed to be her role. She was supposed to marry well and bear children. She was not supposed to become the heiress of her family’s mission. It may be that I’m picking up the character’s own ambivalence towards her place in her family, nation, culture, and the world as a whole. I must also keep in mind that she has been undergoing rigorous training designed to sublimate the self. All of this informed Hutson’s hand as his imagination drew her into being. And think on this: for a character that bothered me in some fashion, I have spent four paragraphs exploring why she bothers me. I spent one on the two characters I love best, and it was one paragraph for two people I feel embody Goodness!

Now, let’s talk about Plot Twists, because any time I get chills reading a book, I love it. Any time I am struck with nausea, disgust, or horror at realizing what a character truly is or has done, I am impressed with the writer’s skill to make the experience visceral. (The climax of Tad Williams’ “The War of the Flowers” and the denouement in his trilogy “Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn” provided those moments in bulk and are great examples of fantasy-horror twists.) One such twist came early on in the book, and I was fascinated to see how it would play out in the character development for one of the POV characters. But there was another twist later with that character that eliminated that exploration, so I was disappointed… Yet it was fantastic.

Any time I get to yell into a book, “Curse your sudden, yet inevitable, betrayal!” is a good time. (Who doesn’t like a timely “Firefly” reference?). That one particular defining moment is so poignant, and consistent for the characters involved; I was breathless reading it. As it unfolded, I knew what was going to happen—not because it was a predictable event, but because of the characters. Sometimes characters are just going to do what they do, and the author can only facilitate it. (You can take that back to the Cho Lin talking points, too.) The Event really is a brilliantly orchestrated moment, and beautifully written.

Then, when the Silver Sorceress is revealed to the reader in full… That’s a moment. All the foreshadowing didn’t prepare me for that. Again, characterization. Like Agatha Christie, Hutson can take a character with limited reader interaction and make that character a fully realized individual. The final twists were true to the Second Installment in a Series Rule which states that Heroes Must Suffer a Devastating Setback, Which One Expects They Will Overcome in the Third Installment. The ending leaves the reader with some mysterious and foreboding information, and introduction to a menacing new villain… Twists. Deliciously awful horrifying twists.

I don’t know how I missed this in the previous novel, but Hutson makes the common error of having characters incorrectly address Queen d’Kara as “Your Highness,” which is how one addresses a royal princess or royal prince. A queen or king is correctly addressed as, “Your Majesty.” He is, however, consistent with his use of “Your Highness” throughout the series—he doesn’t switch to other forms of address. Otherwise, we are once again presented with a tightly-edited, polished, and professional work of fiction.

I cannot say enough good things about Hutson’s world building. It is recognizable through real world parallels, but exotic and foreign. It’s tangible through the weaving of the prose. As in other epic fantasy settings, there is a complex geo-political system that characters must navigate, yet at no point do I expect a reader will find oneself burdened by the information. The cultures are rich and varied, the characters are complex and informed by both their cultures and their goals. I’d like to travel the lands someday, visiting the Barrow of Vis, and the Reliquary of Ver Anath and Seeker Garmond first, of course!

Now, as I reached the end of the book, eager to start the next, Hutson did something I didn’t much like: he ended the book on a cliffhanger with the sentence, “I believe it is time we talked.” It left me with one burning desire: to immediately start the next book and see this monumental meeting between two powers…
Profile Image for Kevin Ford.
38 reviews
May 1, 2023
Actual rating: 3.75
Better than the first in nearly every way! Especially that last hundred pages or so. They flew by! Action was again on point, got some nice twists in there, expansions on the magic system and development in various characters. My favorite chapters were Demien’s think. What a cool character.
It still feels like the dialogue can venture into info-dumps at times as opposed to the world being revealed organically. And then I still had trouble, albeit not nearly as much, keeping track of all the different plot lines. Lastly, I really disliked Sella’s POV chapters.
Profile Image for Joe Jackson.
Author 22 books173 followers
March 17, 2019
While I think I liked the mystery of The Crimson Queen more, the immense increase in the stakes and consequences of The Silver Sorceress really elevate the series to a whole new level. Even the climactic events at the end of The Crimson Queen barely scratch the surface of what's going on now in this volume, and what it promises will come in the next one. This series has some of the most intriguing demons I've seen in fantasy.

Hutson's writing continues to be strong and masterful, avoiding the rush to action or the overdone "character development" that tends to kill most fantasy for me. There's a great balance here, such that even the chapters about characters I hate (and there are a few of them) don't grate on the nerves, as I'm curious to see where their own story arcs take them. Everyone is important to how the threads are all coming together, so even those characters you don't care for or love to hate are presented as important players and not just filler.

The only issues I had with the book were some logistical things (because I'm a nitpicker) and a few eye-rolls at the hypocrisy of some of the characters (though I assume this is intentional). Overall, they were extremely minor things in a story that built beautifully on the foundation of The Crimson Queen. Looking forward to seeing what's in store in #3.

Oh, and as an aside, if you've read The Crimson Queen and The Silver Sorceress, I direct you to pick up the "Lost Lore" anthology (it's free) and read the wonderful prequel short Hutson entered in that work. There's a lot of other fun stories in it too, and like I said, it's free, so win-win-win.
Profile Image for Hannah Ross.
Author 26 books51 followers
October 6, 2018
This is the second part of the riveting epic fantasy saga that started with The Crimson Queen. We continue to watch the great clash between good and evil, life and death, through the innocent eyes of Keilan, a boy from a nondescript fishing village who finds himself thrust into a quest that might determine the future of the world. The classic sword and sorcery tropes - a young Chosen One with unexpected powers and mysterious parentage, for instance - are present, but are brought on very tastefully, not in a tired done-to-death recycling of other successful authors.

The author's familiarity with Chinese culture shows through and adds delightful variety to the well-known European-based medieval fantasy themes. The plot development, characters, pacing and writing are all beautifully done, and are sure to delight the many eager fans who have been waiting for the sequel since the first book came out.

The ones I really envy, though, are those people who will discover this series AFTER it's complete, and can binge read it all! I am now left hanging there, looking forward to the next part of this awesome saga.
Profile Image for Trent.
317 reviews41 followers
March 12, 2020
Once again - wonderful world-building and interesting characters. I have a few issues - there is some editing needed, and the pacing is not as good as The Crimson Queen - but I do really like where the plot is going. I was surprised on multiple occasions by where Hutson took the story, and I'm excited about the final book releasing later this year.

I think the most exciting aspect for me, though, is the depth of the world - Hutson could conceivably write 4 or 5 different series based on different time periods of this world, and I really hope he does.

Overall, this is great Epic Fantasy, and I suggest it to fans of Sanderson, Jordan, etc.

Re-read Update:

Unlike The Crimson Queen, which I upgraded to 5 Stars after my re-read a few weeks ago, I am comfortable keeping this one at 4 Stars. It was still very entertaining, but as I said in my first review, the pacing just isn't as good and the story isn't as engaging.

That said, the story DOES end on a high note, and I am very excited to see how Hutson finishes this thing in The Shadow King.

Profile Image for Andrew Elphick.
87 reviews2 followers
November 25, 2019
Another great read!!! Still so many questions that need answering so looking forward to book 3!!
36 reviews
February 21, 2020
Hard to follow gave up midway

I didn't, care for this book. Too many plot lines and writing style left a lot to be desired. Do not recommend
66 reviews
July 2, 2020
This book is much better than The Crimson Queen. It took almost 3 months for me to complete the book. The book introduced new characters and when I started to read, I found that to be tedious. So I kept the book aside and ignored it for a couple months. Then I tried it again and found almost nostalgic fondness fill me. After that it only took 3 days to complete it.
The story starts from where it is left off - Keilan, Paladin and Nel continuing on the quest to find the silver haired sorceress. Then it dwells in the hidden past of Keilan. The story has one of the most heart-warming moments in it:

"Why does the water turn red at sunset?" Keilan asked, watching the fiery horizon closely for the return of his father's boat.
"Ah," his mother answered, stroking his hair, "that is a wise question. It is because when the dying sun falls into the sea it cracks open like the egg it is––" she made a clucking sound with her tongue, "––and the yolk spills out. It spreads across the waves and then sinks below, where the fish eat it and grow fat and strong for your father to catch."
Keilan pressed himself against his mother, his head resting on her hip. "If the sun breaks every evening, how is there a new one the next day?" He breathed deep of her smell, wanting to gather it all up into himself and hold onto it forever.
"Well, the great hen in the sky lays a new egg in the morning, just as our chickens do."
Keilan giggled and glanced up at his mother. "There's no great hen. The mendicants say the sun is Ama's throne, and the warmth we feel is his love shining down on us."
His mother's face turned sorrowful, but he knew she was only playing with him. "My son, you would believe a stranger to our village instead of your own mother? Oh, what sadness."

I really liked the story So I'm giving it a four star.
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