- Hardcover: 512 pages
- Publisher: Headline Review (12 Mar. 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1472215052
- ISBN-13: 978-1472215055
- Product Dimensions: 16.6 x 4.3 x 24.1 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (102 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 349,115 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Raven's Head Hardcover – 12 Mar 2015
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An atmospheric and dark story... (The Times)
Karen Maitland knows how to wrap you up in the darkest wings of medieval storytelling (S Magazine)
Highly recommended (historicalnovelsociety.org)
Beautifully written by one of today's great masters of medieval historical fiction
A potent brew of mystery and menace... good for a winter's night (thewhishlist.co.uk) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
A gothic delight, swirling with the smoke of alchemy about a young man whose clumsy attempt at blackmail leaves him master of a raven's head ... the Alchemical symbol of deathSee all Product description
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Top Customer Reviews
It is a story in which the ingredients are superstition, black magic, intrigue and power, but the main ingredient most of all is the science of alchemy.
The author certainly has the capability to bring this dark tale in such a fashion that it will grip you and hold your attention right till the end.
The book is set in the year AD 1224 and it tells the tale of a young man called Vincent, who's an apprentice to Gaspard the scribe in France.
The story itself is about Vincent, who after trying blackmailing his Master, Philippe, Le Comte de Lingones, is sent away on a mission by this same Master Philippe with in his possession a silver raven's head, and while in the possession of this same silver raven's head his Master's cronies try to destroy Vincent, but in the end they will fail completely, and Vincent escapes his pursuers and so flees for his life to England.
In England Vincent tries to sell the raven's head in every town he visits, but fails to do so, when all of a sudden he learns of a Baron who's prepared to buy the head of the raven from him, but what Vincent does not know is that this same Baron, Lord Sylvain, is also an Alchemist and thus an absolute danger to Vincent's life, and so Vincent will have to do his utmost to save his life and also that of his friends who are dear to him.
Recommended, for this is a very intriguing and exciting dark tale about power and intrigue in politics, but most of all about the power and fear of the main ingredient of the book, which is "Almighty Alchemy"!
There are three main threads in this book which you will be glad to hear do join up and make sense in the latter part of the book. Each chapter takes on a different thread with no sub-heading to indicate which story it is following. We have Vincent who starts in France as the apprentice to a scribe. He obtains a Silver Raven's Head and heads off to England a wanted man. We also have Gisa, the niece of an apothecary who ends up working for the Lord of the Manor who uses dark arts. Then we have little Regulus who is a five year old boy who lives in a monastry with a group of other boys. The boys are all used for a variety of experiments into the dark alchemic arts.
This is a dark story but, to be fair, this is a dark period of history. This is certainly verging on the gothic with strange magical events. This did add an extra dimension to this story making it much more of a mix of history and fantasy.
I was impressed, as I always am, with the quality of historical research that is clear throughout the story. This is an author who does do her research and brings this period of history alive with her descriptions. I wonder if this book was just a little too long? At times I did feel that we were marking time a bit.
This is a well written book but it is essential that the reader enjoys plenty of historical fact. I enjoy the depth of history in this book but it does make it on the slower side which isn't to everyone's taste.
Although I don't consider this to be the best work by this author (Try a Company of Liars) I did enjoy it and shall be looking out for more. In fact I ahve just downleaded The Plague Charmer to my ereader.
When a young librarian by the name of Vincent discovers a secret which could have disastrous consequences for his master, he decides to try a spot of blackmail which unfortunately backfires. He finds himself in desperate peril and on the run with an ornate silver raven's head in his possession which seems to have a life of its own. After several endeavours to be rid of the bird, he eventually comes into contact with the alarming and intimidating Lord Sylvain who has an evil plot on his mind.
This is a fast paced, captivating and atmospheric thriller which is thoroughly entertaining. It has a mysterious and gothic ambience and is decidedly eerie. It also combines fact with fiction, something I particularly enjoy. The historical aspect is well researched and depicted, whilst the supernatural slant keeps the reader on the edge of their seat. The characters are believable and I like that the ending is quite ambiguous, left to the imagination!
In a nutshell, I loved it, quite enchanted in fact. I'm a big fan of Karen Maitland's work and this was no exception. I thought it was a compelling, absorbing and hair-raising story which I can recommend to those who like historical fantasy.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
After reading the Vanishing Witch I bought some more Karen Maitland books from Amazon. Each book has been a treat to read with lots of medieval twists!Published 1 month ago by Bonboni
I'm reading this now (when I'm not typing reviews for Amazon) and it is most engrossing - and although the subject is serious, some of the observations of one of the characters are... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Cynthia Rabet
Having loved Karen Maitland’s The Vanishing Witch, I was so happy to receive a review copy of her newest novel. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Lily Calder
I enjoyed this but didn't think it as good as some of the other karen maitland titlesPublished 8 months ago by gill68
I bought The Raven's Head on the strength of Company of Liars and The Owl Killers, but this book is a total let down. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Amazon Customer