DAY 5: Seth Skorkowsky’s “Sea of Quills (Tales of the Black Raven Book II)” – Swashbuckling, Roguish Fun, and the breaking of an Author’s Curse

It’s hard to know what to say about “Sea of Quills (Black Raven #2)” that I haven’t already said about “Mountain of Daggers (Black Raven #1) (Click here for my original review of the Black Raven’s debut).”  Skorkowsky’s vision for the “Tales of the Black Raven” steers a true course from the first page to the last in his second Black Raven offering.

 

THE REVIEW:  “Sea of Quills (Black Raven #2)” 

4 out 5 Stars

Sea-of-Quills-redux

 

In “Sea of Quills” we’re offered an ever-expanding look at the world of the Black Raven, building on the gritty roots laid down in “Mountain of Daggers.”  New mysteries, new capers, new magic.  Exciting locations, including revisited favorites and paths not before tread.  New friends and new enemies abound.  From cover to cover, this book overflows with fresh mayhem.  Some of my favorite regulars from “Mountain of Daggers” return in “Sea of Quills” to further cement their place in Skorkowsky’s meticulously realized roguish world.

If I had one complaint with regard to returning favorite characters, it would be that I wanted more of Karolina, known to the world as the lovely and deadly assassin Polnoch.  She is the Yin to the Black Raven’s Yang, the opposite side of his coin.  She’s a fabulous character and the two of them are absolutely incredible together.  She makes only one appearance in “Sea of Quills” but I’m holding out high hopes that she returns with a vengeance in the next installment in the Black Raven saga.

“Sea of Quills” draws heavily on the Black Raven’s sailor’s roots and we get a clear picture of the importance of the seafaring culture in Skorkowsky’s vicious underworld.  There is an undeniable element of Jimmy Buffett meets James Bond at work in these nautically themed tales of swashbuckling adventure.  And I like it.

As in Mountain of Daggers, we are treated to a fair amount of time spent in Lunnisburg (my favorite setting thus far in the world of the Black Raven) — carving out high-risk criminal capers beneath the ashen red glow of the Kaisers, even as the great ancient city suffers through a very peculiar and unique plague all its own.

Ah, yes, and my favorite theme woven into “Sea of Quills” — the coming of the Bounty Hunters.  What happens when a thief becomes famous?  Dangerous and capable men line up to exchange blood for gold, and the list of ruthless bounty hunters waiting to take a crack at the Black Raven is growing longer and more distinguished by the page.

“Mountain of Daggers” reignited my love of pulp Sword and Sorcery.  “Sea of Quills” guaranteed there will always be a section of my shelf reserved for the Tales of the Black Raven.

My chief complaint?  Now I’m ready for “Tales of the Black Raven, Book III.”

-CLAY

 

And now, the rest of the story…

There is a curse that hangs over the Black Raven.  No, I don’t mean the character from Seth Skorkowsky’s tales of swashbuckling rogues.

I mean a curse hangs over the tales themselves.

Seth had been working for an absurd amount of years to bring The Black Raven to market, and every time the hour of victory drew near, some bizarre disaster would fall out of the heavens and shit a lightning bolt of despair right in the middle of Seth’s long labor of love.  I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve received a message from Seth in the middle of the night simply stating “The curse of the Black Raven strikes again.”

Seriously.  There was a period of woe and acceptance of horror with regard to getting the Black Raven on the market that spanned years.  Conflicts, confusion, publication delays.  Now, all of us in the biz have to deal with these on one level or another.  They’re just part of the gig.  But the cycle of woe the Black Raven has gone through to get where it is today is nothing short of Biblical.

I’ll be talking Everything Skorkowsky with the man himself in an upcoming interview right here on my blog — and you bet we’ll include some frank talk about the Curse of the Black Raven in Seth’s own words.  Because, seriously folks, it’s a tale that needs told.

In the meantime, I lift my glass to Mr. Skorkowsky and his Black Raven.  It warms my black heart to at long last, see the curse broken.

More to come, folks.

Until next time — find a book, read it, love it / hate it, review it, share it.  Because that’s what makes the world go ’round.

-CLAY

 

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