Raven flight by Juliet Marillier
Shadowfell bk 2. Pan Macmillan, 2013. ISBN 9781742612249.
(Age 13+) Recommended. The second in the Shadowfell series follows the story of Neryn, who has finally joined the rebel group at Shadowfell and must find the Guardians of Alban who will train her as a Caller. The Guardians have hidden themselves away from human eyes and prove difficult to convince to aid her. Accompanied by the tough soldier and guard, Tali, Neryn journeys across the land in search of them. Meanwhile Flint has returned to the king's service and must play out his dangerous role as double agent.
Raven Flight is a really strong second book in the series. It concentrates on the characters of Neryn and Tali, two very different women, who are both strong and steadfast in different ways. Quiet Neryn is not a soldier but under Tali's guidance, she becomes strong enough physically to undertake the dangerous journey and grows in self knowledge on the way. Tali is tough and outspoken and keeps her emotions hidden. Much of the interest in the book is the contrast between the two women and their growing friendship and the way that they are loyal to each other and the cause. Flint's dangerous role in the evil king's court also provides some heart stopping moments and empathy for the dilemmas that he finds himself having to contend with. War inevitably means death and Marillier doesn't flinch away from that either.
This is high fantasy, with a setting of dangerous terrain and abounding with mythical creatures, powerful Guardians and stalwart humans. The cliff hanger at the end of the story will ensure that readers pick up the next in the series.
Marillier is a favourite author of mine and this is another with signature wonderful settings, loyal young women coming to terms with themselves and their powers and action enough to keep the reader interested. Shadowfell and Raven Flight are both exceptionally good books that are sure to garner a following.