The Queen of All Crows takes us to a modern day free of modern technology, following the story of a woman who will stop at nothing to discover the truth behind a massive government coverup. It’s a brilliant fantasy novel, complete with a compelling alternate history, strange technology teetering between antiquated and modern, and a main character you’ll be eager to keep up with. It’s a book to be loved and devoured quickly.
Now’s the time to catch up on this wonderful read — just in time for the release of book two of The Map of Unknown Things series. The second book drops on January 1, so get to reading!
NOTE: I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest, unbiased review. I only publish reviews of books I enjoy, and this novel meets that criterion.
A Few of My Favorite Things
I love the main character of The Queen of All Crows. She’s a true master of disguise who refuses to let a male-centered culture get in the way of what she wants from life. She switches between male and female presentation with ease, gaining access to any and all secrets to further her goals. She’s witty and brilliant, never compromising and always one step ahead of everyone else. The next bit is a spoiler — you’ve been warned!
I could not get over the epicness of a seabound nation of pirate women who have denounced male-driven society and begun their own system of government. They are all the definition of the word badass.
This world of The Queen of All Crows is epically brilliant, and I wish I had been able to read The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire series before starting this book. It’s set in the same world, one that has forsaken any technology that could plunge the world into war. While the book’s setting is modern-day (2012-ish), the culture feels distinctly Victorian. The existing technology is hard to fathom, creating this strange mix of modern advances in machinery and old-school methods of power. Think steamships from the early 1900s still being used in modern day. There are no electronics, no cell phones or gadgets we would recognize. People fly around on blimps and communicate using telegraph or good, old-fashioned pen and paper. Imagining what it would be like to still live in that kind of era is half the fun.
Duncan has mastered the art of nautical writing. You get the sense he’s been at sea most of his life, simply recounting his own experiences aboard a ship. The details are meticulous, giving you a realistic view of life on a vessel. The anti-technology of the world adds to the imaginative aspects of the ships and their technologies, allowing you to imagine fantastic crafts that meld together old and new.
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A Few of My Favorite Things
The heroine of The Winter Road is Teyr, a badass mercenary with a shady past who tries to use her wealth to improve the world. She has so many layers, brought out by her various roles as stepmother, warrior, merchant, and leader. She refuses to give up on her ambitions, which does, admittedly, lead to ruin. When you’d expect her to yield, she continues fighting, coming to the aid of others and showing the world it can’t bring her down.
Her fight scenes are truly epic, given the assistance she has from the strange plants littering the kingdom. She has skills that don’t seem to be rivaled in her world, and she uses them ruthlessly when needed. All in all, she’s a powerful, committed character who fights with passion and leads with admirable strength.
The world of The Winter Road is truly fitting of the epic fantasy genre. The map is well developed and deeply plotted. The history of the land is extensive and it leads to a lot of interesting interactions as past ties and alliances are revealed at unexpected times. I’m truly impressed at Selby’s ability to juggle such a large cast of characters. It rivals Game of Thrones in my opinion, balancing people from all walks of life with their respective clans. It takes a lot of skill to create such an immense world and I tip my hat to the author.
I was most impressed with Selby’s writing style. The book is driven by dialogue, intermixed with a great use of place and setting. As the world around them gets darker and more dangerous, the writing reflects that mood, giving the reader an unsettling feeling as Teyr marches into the belly of the beast. The fight scenes are epic, making it easy to visualize the loosing of every arrow. It’s a tragic read, to be sure, but one that’s sure to be enjoyable for any fan of epic fantasy.
This is a spoiler, so stop if you don’t want to know!
I found the main villain of the book to be terrifying. He seems to be a man who has nothing to lose, who doesn’t have a heart and who rules with an iron fist. Human life doesn’t mean anything to him, he just wants to take over everything he sees. I couldn’t help but imagine the Ice King from Game of Thrones. His legend is gradually built throughout the book and, when we finally meet him, the feelings of trepidation are well warranted.