Blackwing by Ed McDonald – An Audiobook Review



The republic faces annihilation, despite the vigilance of Galharrow’s Blackwings. When a raven tattoo rips itself from his arm to deliver a desperate message, Galharrow and a mysterious noblewoman must investigate a long dead sorcerer’s legacy. But there is a conspiracy within the citadel: traitors, flesh-eaters and the ghosts of the wastelands seek to destroy them, but if they cannot solve the ancient wizard’s paradox, the Deep Kings will walk the earth again, and all will be lost.

The war with the Eastern Empire ended in stalemate some 80 years ago thanks to Nall’s Engine, a wizard-crafted weapon so powerful even the Deep Kings feared it. The strike of the engine created the Misery – a wasteland full of ghosts and corrupted magic that now forms a no-man’s-land along the frontier. But when Galharrow investigates a frontier fortress, he discovers complacency bordering on treason: then the walls are stormed, and the engine fails to launch.

Galharrow escapes only because of the preternatural magical power of the noblewoman he was supposed to be protecting. Together they race to the capital to unmask the traitors and restore the republic’s defences. Far across the Misery, a vast army is on the move, as the empire prepares to call the republic’s bluff.


Author: Ed McDonald

Narrator: Colin Mace

Publisher: Orion

Running Time: 11 hrs 27mins

Audio Release Date: 27/07/2017

My Rating of ‘Blackwing’: 5 out of 5

Purchase: Audible UKAudible US



Blackwing, for me, was utterly fantastic. Everything from the writing style to the narrator ticked all the right boxes in my opinion. The story is told in first person narrative through the less than prim and proper mouth of Galharrow, captain of the Blackwing. His gritty way of speaking and telling his tale lends itself perfectly to the way Colin Mace narrated the novel.

It has a good array of new creatures not found in other fantasy series. My personal favourite being the gillings. Little horrors with twin rows of sharp teeth that numb anything they touch. I’ve often heard people say they wouldn’t mind dying in their sleep. It still counts if a gilling is eating you alive whilst you sleep and your body is too numb to feel pain and wake you up, right?

Unlike some books, the protagonist isn’t a perfect killing machine. Sure, he’s pretty damn good at things, but he has his drawbacks and weaknesses. He is an interesting character to have as the eyes and mouth of a story. At first you feel he’s an uncaring brute of a man, but you slowly learn there’s a lot more to him.

There’s a good cast of supporting characters ranging from friends, allies, enemies, unwanted yet impossible to refuse masters and just the regular run of the mill people encountered throughout. Everyone feels as though they have a character and purpose rather than just another background character to pad out a town or city. It makes me feel like a lot of time and work went into the world building which, in turn, makes the whole thing more enjoyable to read/listen to.

My review hasn’t gone into a great amount of detail but, if I did, I’d essentially be re-writing the blurb or a synopsis. There is so much going on in this piece with so many interesting characters and settings, as you can no doubt gleam from the blurb.

As you can imagine, when the enemies are, essentially, god-like beings, there are some epic moments. Judging how this one ended and how there is so much more left to explore in the world created by McDonald, I can’t wait until the sequel(s) are released. I think I may have to stick with the audiobooks rather than written books, however. Once you’ve heard Colin Mace speak as Galharrow, you can’t just go and have the voice in your head play the part.

10 thoughts on “Blackwing by Ed McDonald – An Audiobook Review

  1. Fabulous review and I am so pleased you loved the book. I thought from the first page it really just grabs the reader with the specific Galharrow way and he sure does have a lot more to him than can be gathered at first glance! I, like everyone else, cannot wait for the sequel! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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