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

3.7 out of 5 stars 89 customer reviews

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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 (89 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,431,784 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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By A Customer on 28 Feb. 2005
Format: Paperback
I like to read books that I think will change my life. At the end of the day, they're just books, so I generally return to normal quite quickly, except maybe with an increased desire to use 'whom' in the right context and semi-colons in the right place. But in that fashion I churn through Murakami and Orwell and Mervyn Peake, and hey, I love them- pretentious as my motives may be- and it's led me to all sorts of books that I wouldn't have picked up had I not been so, and I in turn loved them too- Ian M Banks, Raymond Carver, Bill Waterson. I think of myself as reasonably widely read. What leaves me at a loose end is fantasy. I mean, out-and-out pure fantasy- there's loads of it, but what's the point? Fantasy never overtly tries for relevancy (except with the obvious satires of Pratchett) settling instead for reccounting historic fables of a past we never had in some parralell universe, or whatever. I guess I was embarassed to approach a genre so determined to have no impact on the world, and more importantly, on me. I didn't feel like the effort was there. Fantasy is so formulaic- Demon Lord/ Dragon/two Demon Lords threaten humanity or some self-conciously multi-cultural society ('you can't have humans to captain ships, you must have a completely separate race of boat people!' Good one. [Disclaimer- this may never have happened in a fantasy novel, but it seems like it would]) and a group of people, possibly with some sort of Messiah-type killjoy in tow being all confused about his 'calling', have to save everything by doing stuff.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In a genre so encumbered with half arsed and derivative writing, when you find an author that stands out it's a special joy. James Barclay is one such joy.

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.
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