Spoiler Free Summary: The Raven by Erin Lindsey is the fifteenth story in the Unfettered II Anthology. Tom is brother to the king, and his kingdom is at war. The war, caused by the king’s transgressions, is causing bloodshed and strife. The only alternative, rebellion. Will Tom betray his brother for the sake of peace?
Character: It took a good minute for me to remember this story, but once my memory was jogged, I remembered liking Tom. The arc made a ton of sense, and watching a loyal brother be placed in an impossible position time and again was a very powerful source of conflict (and therefore interest) for me. While the author did a fantastic job of showing the strain Tom went through to protect his brother and aid him out of several questionable situations, what I think made this fall short (i.e. forgettable) was the author didn’t do such a great job showing me how much the brothers loved each other. I understood it, but I didn’t feel it, and that’s why the story didn’t stick with me.
Exposition: On the other side of forgettable stories is the benefit of not remembering it was bad. Usually this means the exposition was just fine. The story flowed well and quickly. The prose was solid. Poor character plus poor exposition = a bad story. Poor character with good exposition = an easy to read but forgettable story.
Worldbuilding: This was good, especially if you like political intrigue and things like that. Those who liked The Game of Houses from The Wheel of Time of the economic details in Dune will appreciate that part of the story. The best and most interesting part of this story is the political ramifications of the choices Tom and his brother make.
Dialogue: The conversations were interesting. There’s a debate about a course of action to take that I found very compelling, but I don’t think the characters felt unique to listen to. That puts the dialogue for this story in the “not bad” category. It’s probably better than average since that scene is one I remember most.
Description: There wasn’t much in the way of description. Sure, there was battle, but that’s not what I remembered about the story (see above). I think this could have been a bit better. At the very least it could have been a bit more vivid. I think if the characters were at least memorable by description, this story would have been stronger.
Overall: This was a good story; it just wasn’t memorable, and that’s because the characters didn’t quite meet the mark for me. I understood the goal and complications, but the motivation seemed off. I didn’t get that sense of love for the brother. It felt more like duty, which took away the potential for emotional power. It’s still interesting. It still has scenes that grab you, but like most average stories, I read it, wasn’t too disappointed, and then I forgot it soon after. If that relationship were better conveyed, I connect with the character, and this story is probably one of the better stories, especially considering Lindsey’s strong prose. Still, if you like good world building and political intrigue, this story has merit and deserves a fair shot.
Thanks for reading