Dawnthief: Chronicles of the Raven 1 Paperback – 12 Jul 2001
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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
A fantasy epic with the action of David Gemmell and the characterisation of Robin Hobb from a brand new British talent.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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 :)
The characters he creates are rich. They have responses individual to them, and characterful dialogue and actions. And are not set in stone, they develop throughout.
Magic is interesting. It's not quite as deep as the mechanics employed by the Name of the Wind magic-users, but the way it works in Balaia, you can understand how it works from the way it's described.
The plots are strong. An absence of contrived situations to keep it rolling forwards, rather the occasional problem that develops the plot direction.
You never feel safe and cosy. Characters die. That occurs early on and doesn't let up. That's rare in this genre and well done here. There's rarely a story where you feel the "hero" has a chance of failing but these, The Raven are invariably walking a fine line.
An excellent first book in a splendid series.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very disappointing book. Hard to believe storyline, and a pace that would embarrass a snail. For a set of 'rock hard' mercaneries, they get killed of rather easily for my liking. Read morePublished 6 months ago by J. Evans
Interesting concept, a little complicated at times but very enjoyablePublished 9 months ago by Patricia Washbrook
I read through the reviews here and decided to purchase this book, with plans to order the rest of the series if I liked it. Read morePublished on 3 July 2014 by Carl A. Myrvang
I'm sorry - I just couldn't get over how poorly written this book is. It's highly cliched and executed in a below average style. Read morePublished on 4 Jun. 2014 by Mr. P. B. Saddington