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Dawnthief: Chronicles of the Raven 1 Paperback – 12 Jul 2001

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Product details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz; Re-issue edition (12 July 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857988604
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857988604
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 3.5 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,444,928 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

James Barclay was born in Felixstowe, Suffolk, in 1965 and is the third of four children. He gained a BA (Hons) in Communication Studies in Sheffield before heading to London to train as an actor. With acting roles in short supply, he worked in marketing and advertising until 2004 when he became a full time author.

James is the creator of the two Raven trilogies: Chronicles of The Raven and Legends of The Raven, and the epic fantasy duology, The Ascendants of Estorea. Following that, he published the seventh and last Raven novel, Ravensoul. He has written two novellas, Light Stealer and Vault of Deeds. He is currently working on a new fantasy trilogy, the first of which, Once Walked With Gods was published in August 2010.

Away from fantasy, James is writing contemporary young adult fiction, and is collaborating on a TV drama, a comedy sketch show and a very British screenplay. James has recently begun acting again and has a role in a gritty Brit-pic called 'The Estate.' The film will premiere in October 2010.

For his sins, James is a lifelong supporter of Ipswich Town FC and still believes England will win the next major championship they play. He loves watching cricket, rugby, tennis and darts and indeed plays all these sports when he can. He's just not very good at any of them.

Beyond writing and acting, James spends as much time as possible with his son, Oscar, who was three in January 2010, his wife, Clare, and Mollie the Hungarian Vizsla. That's a dog to anyone not in the know. They all live in Teddington, Middlesex.

Product Description

Amazon Review

This energetic first fantasy novel is familiar in outline, but told with unusual intensity. "The Raven" is a group of seven mercenaries, just starting to lose their fighting edge, who reluctantly get hired by a mage from a college of magic with a nasty reputation for blood sacrifice. Their mission: to save the world from major bad guys called the Wytch Lords. These, defeated long ago at great cost, have escaped their sorcerous confinement and will be unstoppable once they've grown new bodies; meanwhile their teeming minions are already going to war. The only hope is Dawnthief, a lost super-spell which, if correctly cast, can zap even Wytch Lords--but make one mistake and the sun will never come up again. A typical fantasy-quest shopping list emerges: you need the dragon-guarded amulet to open the ancient mage's workshop to find the portal leading to the demon watching over the parchment with the spell, which itself requires three "catalyst" talismans hidden in difficult places. What makes Dawnthief a ripping yarn is Barclay's ruthless pace and lack of sentimentality. No character is too nice, innocent or important to die or suffer hideous tortures. The death toll is horrific, as are the many exotic ways of dying in this dangerous world. This is a breathless, action-crammed fantasy thriller. --David Langford

Book Description

A fantasy epic with the action of David Gemmell and the characterisation of Robin Hobb from a brand new British talent.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Karen a Kindle Fan on 24 Nov. 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The first James Barclay book I have read and I wasn't disappointed although I found it a bit tough going in the first couple of chapters - but I am glad I persevered. Hirad the lead character for me was down to earth, tough and driven and gave me a few chuckles now and then but can Denser be trusted? Read it to find out.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Heeberon on 15 Sept. 2007
Format: Paperback
......after many years of reading sci-fi & fantasy, I abruptly tired of the "purple rain falling on the orange grass" or "I can't be the heir to the Sword of Garglebad, I'm just a stable-boy" and stopped looking at these genres for many years (Iain M Banks excepted).

I decided to give escapism another go recently, and after a completely false start with the execrable "Orcs" book (if ever a good idea went to waste...), I, purely by accident (first trip to a library for years), stumbled across these - sad to say, decided by not much more than "interesting cover!?".

I write this review now having read all 6 and although as many reviewers have said, they get better (characterisation, plot, pacing, etc) book by book, the fact of the matter is, I wouldn't have even read book 2 if this was poor.

What I loved about this book (series) :
- you're dropped straight in (figure out man! no screeds of exposition)
- the goodies ain't invincible (does Barclay get kicked out of the club for this - innocents & major characters die!!!)
- ooh-ya, ah-ya battles expertly described, putting you into the maelstrom (think start of saving private ryan, er, with swords)
- excellent humour (reminiscent of IM Banks IMHO)
- the people are real (they wind each other up, get upset, tired, have hopes etc)
- elves are in it, but forget the namby-pamby poetry and chiffon - these guys are psycho ninja killing machines! (later book to be fair)

Really - buy, beg, borrow, steal these - they are rip-roaring reads - but there is an intellectual & emotional maturity that is very satisfying indeed.

.......and no purple rain.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By StarFishSwimmy on 20 Nov. 2013
Format: Paperback
I have to say I bought this because it spoke about ravens. Sadly no ravens in this book but it is about a band of men available for hire, called the Raven, and their adventures together. Thoroughly enjoyed this fast paced and exciting novel. I found it well-written and a cleverly executed plot. It is also emotional and very moving.

There are Dragons and magic and humour and emotion. No it is not depressing either - a real thumbs up for those of us that like to escape into a better inspirational fantasy world.

I personally have a preference for female main characters in fantasy books because they are so rare (and rarely done well), such as those found in the Mists of Avalon. A drawback for me is that the women in this book are immediately linked with children or evil. Or described as "small-breasted and built for speed". I didn't find an equivalent male description, such as "tight-buttocked and built for strength" - but clearly that might change the tone of the book.

Though not quite the Red Sonja I was looking for :D I really enjoyed this book, a great addition to fantasy - hence the five stars, and I am just about to purchase the kindle version of the next book: 'Noonshade'.

Thank you James Barclay :)

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By @GeekZilla9000 TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 4 Sept. 2007
Format: Paperback
It's been a while since I read this book, and I wasn't overly enamoured with it initially (so many characters at the start confused me a little) - but I now look back fondly on the book and have gone back to read others in the series.

Some have said that this book doesn't have particularly strong character development. I would half agree with this for the book, but the Xesteskian Mage (Denser) was very well developed allbeit in a minimalist way. Once you have moved through a few of these books though - you feel a very strong affinity with the main characters and want them to succeed. Some of the characters have little idiosyncrasies (Unknown taps his sword on the floor before engaging in battle) and these help define the characters and forge a good mental image of them.

The basics might seem formulaic, a troupe of 'muscle-for-hire' warriors find themselves on a quest to save the world. But Barclay's constant barrage of action keeps this fast paced book interesting. And the character of Denser was absolutely fascinating, I would have kept reading to try and understand more about him. What a fantastic character!

There are many people introduced through the story - and I have some sort of 'name dyslexia' and struggle to remember who is who, but trucking on with the story reaped its own rewards and I got well stuck in.

There is a realism to the novel (well, as real as you get in a fantasy novel!) as the fights are gory, the 'good guys' aren't angels, the heroes of the story aren't immune from injury themselves.

This is a great novel, and a fantastic portal to the further "Chronicles of the Raven" books. This series of books forms an epic fantasy collection.

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By Walnut47 on 26 April 2007
Format: Paperback
i read one of the feedbacks that said there is no character development in this book. its one of a long series and i think to get the best out of them you should read them all. by the second/third books you are dragged along by the ride the characters are taken on. i have great respect for barclay because the hero's aren't safe! they die! they aren't invincible unlike so many fantasy heros. they are also set apart in that the Raven aren't moved to action by some fate of birth/mystical alignment/parent-figure mentor, the raven act first for money and then for each other which gives them unsurpassed passion in battle. their struggles make them endearing characters, their humour make them real people and so their heart-ache is real too. books in the raven series are the first fantasy novels to make me laugh out loud and shed a tear.

dawntheif isnt the best in the series but it is a great foundation for a brilliant story that im reading again. barlcay's fight scenes are fab and i love the way he tells things from all the angles, you feel the last sights, thoughts and feelings of people on all sides.
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