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Dawnthief: Chronicles of the Raven 1 (The Chronicles of the Raven) 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
Top customer reviews
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 :)
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.
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.