Disillusionment and Faith: The Raven's Shadow Series
Blood Song (2011), the first novel, captured me with its story of intrigue and betrayal. Ryan skilfully crafts driving fight scenes in a well-developed world. Now I await the third from the library!
It was in the second book Tower Lord (2014), though, that I began to recognize a thematic pattern of mislaid faith.
The story begins with Vaelin Al Sorna abandoned by his father at the gate of the Sixth Order where he will learn to devote his life to battle for the Faith--a religion which boasts a life-after-death, but no deity. He carries resentment towards his father and tries to embrace the Order as his only family.
As he grows, however, the political and religious aspects of his nation begin to pull at one another and at him through his family. The king wants to go to war with other countries, who follow other religions, and Vaelin finds himself manipulated into taking a leading role in the venture.
But there are darker forces at work. Someone is manipulating things from beyond the grave, and Vaelin seems destined to oppose him.
One of the themes in the Raven's Shadow novels is mislaid faith in false religions.
The worst antagonists use the faith of others to manipulate them or ridicule them, while lesser antagonists are driven mad by fanatic devotion to their faith.
The main characters are disillusioned, one-by-one realizing that all the religion they believe in is false. They are put-off by the faith of others and consider them foolish, delusioned, or victimized.
This results in an increasingly dark view of the world from the protagonists' perspective, the only hope relying on Vaelin's power. His cynicism, and that of the other protagonists, gives the book a hopeless and downtrodden tone.
Perhaps the third book will provide the series with a more uplifting conclusion, but based on the books I've already read by Ryan, I am doubtful.