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This a second offering, from what is to be a five-part series mixing magic with ritual from Michelle Paver. Her new series of books tells the narrative of Hylas, a 12-year-old goatherd, whose adventures take him to Ancient Crete and Ancient Egypt. He also has a potent ally in the form Pirra; the stubborn daughter of an Egyptian priestess, the scene is set during the Bronze Age. Other characters featured in the plot, of non-human variety are a lion cub, a falcon and a dolphin.

Book 2 shows our hero and co having to thwart the Crows, an evil family that uses slaves labour to run its copper mining operation – this dreadful enterprise is run in appalling settings. With the fore telling of a prophecy, Hylas manages against the odds to survive book one. However, there is plenty of misfortune heading towards him in the books to come. This volume does give some recap of book one for readers who haven't read it.

While a number of other fashionable children's authors imagine a future regularly described in dystopian terms, Paver’s work looks backwards more with a positive eye to the past. Her well rounded stalwart characters always do the right thing, helped by generous helping of flukes and a succession of eleventh-hour escapes. The authors’ story telling maybe a blend of fantasy and adventure, however, the background to the narrative is facts based archaeology of the Greek Bronze Age and its belief systems of that time frame. It is this attention to detail - innovative storytelling and clean grammatical style that has assured her popularity and success, in my opinion.
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on 5 November 2013
Michelle Paver is doing it again. I absolutely loved the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness with its multiple layers of adventure and anthropological tour de force. She writes very well and this new series is delivering the goods all over again! Just to make it clear, I am 67 years old, my son and daughter in law, who are both scientists and in their thirties, are avid readers as well, and now my sister has joined the ranks of the Paver's fans!
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on 23 August 2013
Ah. What a wonderful day. The arrival of a new Michelle Paver book is always a special event for me. That special day that comes but once a year and it brings with it a sense of wonder, amazement, excitement and a sliver of fear at what might happen next to the characters you're coming to love.

I thoroughly enjoyed Gods and Warriors which was released last year, kick-starting this series of the same name, and I remember saying in my review (which can be found here) that it felt very much a world building book that was setting things out nicely for the series to build upon these foundations and grow, and flourish. And after reading The Burning Shadow, I stand by that comment. We find Hylas trapped - he's a slave, set to work in the copper mines on the side of a mountain in Thalakrea, and he isn't a lone. Hundreds, if not more, are working tirelessly for little or no reward just to appease Kreon, the man who owns them. And to make thing's worse, he's a Crow.

The stakes have risen in The Burning Shadow. Now that some of the Crows know who Hylas is, he risks being caught at every turn. But he's adamant not to get drawn in to the prophecy laid out by the Oracle. He's determined that he'll have no part to play in the bringing down of the House of Koronos. All he wants is to find his sister, Issi, and make sure that she's okay. But the gods themselves have different ideas...

Pirra is also making moves to do what she wants. Her mother, Yassassara, the High Preistess is planning to send her away for good and Pirra is having none of it. She plots a daring escape and when she meets a wise woman called Hekabi she see's a way out. But Hekabi is not what she seems and Pirra is drawn away from Keftiu again into danger, back into the eyesight of the crows, and Hylas.

I don't even know where to begin with my love of this book. I've read Gods and Warriors several times, or The Outsiders as it now known after the paperback re-print..., and I really have come to love Hylas and Pirra. The characters are building, their progression plain to see, none more so than Telamon who... I can't even begin to explain the changes that boy is going through, you need to read it!

So many characters are introduced in this book that it can be a little overwhelming at times. Hekabi. Periphas. Pharax. Alekto. Kreon. So so many, but they're all so well balanced. Some scary. Some not. Some you instantly warm to and some you cannot stand right from the start. But this is needed. It provides a great balance of good and bad. And it's also good to see the return of a character we meet in Book 1, one who I'll be honest I didn't think about until he popped up again - his reappearance however is a good thing because he's an interesting character that I'm looking forward to seeing again and again through the series...

And Havoc! The lion cub. She's rivalling Wolf in Michelle's Chronicles of Ancient Darkness for my favourite fictional animal ever. She's just so beautifully imagined and the way Michelle seems to have gotten in to her head, the way she does for every animal she writes. It's amazing and it adds to the whole magical feel to the story, this kind of mystical edge that makes you tingle. Just so good!

The book, as you'd expect being a Michelle Paver affair, is so well thought out, planned, and so beautifully written that you can't help but become addicted and fly through its 271 pages at breakneck speed. I am loving this world, I'm loving this series and I seriously cannot wait to see what Michelle has in store for us next. The Burning Shadow does an amazing job of taking the foundations laid in Book 1 and building upon them with such grace and thought. I remember seeing a video on her website and on the Puffin Live event she did earlier this year, or maybe it was end of last, I can't remember, where she said Book 3 features a falcon... and we go to Egypt! I cannot wait!

And as with the feeling you get with Christmas, that's it for another year. All that build up and it's gone, so quickly, in the blink of an eye...

(ORIGIONALLY POSTED BY MYSELF ON EMPIRE OF BOOKS BLOG)
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on 20 August 2013
Michelle Paver is a first rate writer, and her previous success with her books should be enough recommendation for this one. However I feel the need to write a longer review, because having completed the book a few days ago, this book has left me hankering for more in a way that is unusual for me these days. I simply have to say something to recommend it!

Before I say more, I would point out that this is book 2 in the series. The first book, "The Outsider" is also first class, good enough that I put this one in my kindle wishlist long before it was published. If you found this review first, don't forget to read "The Outsider" first.

Having said that, the book would almost stand alone. Hylas is trying to find his sister from whom he was separated in book 1, but at the start of this story his journey takes a wrong turn when he is caught by slavers who transport him back in the direction he came from, to a volcanic island where his new masters are mining copper. Condemned to work in the mines, Hylas would come close to despair, but in Michelle Paver's stories, the gods may have a greater purpose, and unwilling as he may be to do so, he will play an important part in it.

I doubt my synopsis truly does this work justice though. Here is why it ticked the right boxes for me though: I have visited the bronze age copper mine on Llandudno's Great Orme a few times in the past, and on each visit I found myself captivated by what I saw. What would it be like to be a copper miner in such a place? We know they used children as miners, but what was life like for such children? I remember walking on the Great Orme wishing there was a book in just such a setting, but it seemed that no one had found a way to make the bronze age sound interesting.

Well now that has all changed, with Hylas and Pirra presenting a captivating pair of protagonists, and the tensions with his friend, or ex friend, Telamon producing a wonderful tension that makes you desperate to know what will happen next.

The different aspects of the culture around bronze age Greece are also well represented with Hylas a poor goatherd and now a slave set off against Pirra, daughter of a priestess and Telamon, a noble born "crow" warrior. The way this unlikely trio are brought together might stretch credulity if we did not see the hands of the gods in this, but the way that Michelle Paver writes it, you never think it unbelievable.

The book is written for children, and I would have no problem with my 9 year old reading this, and my 12 year old devoured the first in the series last year and is now reading this one. However Michelle Paver never speaks down to her audience, and the book is also gritty and realistic.

There is also a lion cub in this story, Havoc, who is an interesting addition, if not a huge surprise that Michelle Paver writes about an animal alongside the human heros.

Anyway this book had me hooked. Bronze age Greece is not a pouplar setting, perhaps because we know less about it. No Zeus and Hades and other such gods here, but the other thing that struck me about this book was that it was beautifully researched. Michelle Paver has clearly studied how animist religion was slowly developing at this period towards an ordered pantheon, and although we cannot know for sure what was believed then, the beliefs put into the mind of Hylas et al., are convincing and well thought out.

Likewise the historical setting shows a lot of careful research, and comes across as believable. The description of the mining is terrifying, and the whole work is educational without ever seeming that way.

Highly recommended. So far this is my best book of 2013.
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on 12 January 2014
We are all eager to read the books in this Gods and Warriors series - from a 6 year old all the way up to the thirty somethings! The books are easy enough for our 10 year old to read, but rich and compelling enough to make an engaging family read-aloud. The characters are interesting and complex, for a children's book, and it isn't always easy for the children to tell who is a "goody" or a "baddy". The animal companions are fascinatingly evoked, and you see things through their minds (a dolphin in book one, a lion cub here) - so the sun is a lion in the sky, water is "the wet", hair is a mane, etc. The books are especially interesting to children who are learning about Ancient Greece and have an interest in Greek mythology and history, but stand alone as intriguing and satisfying reads. We can't wait to find out what happens to Hylas, Pirra and Telamon next.
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on 30 July 2014
Excellent. My ten year old daughter has rediscovered her love of reading with Michelle Paver's books. Would highly recommend her other series too. My daughter is a very able reader, but the storyline is complicated, so worth reading a few chapters of the first book in each series with your child and discussing it with them. Themes picked up from previous books throughout next in series. We kept hearing things like 'oh, so that's why she did that.'
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on 19 April 2014
Amazing and action pack filled with all the qualities that you look for in a book for example : action , friendship, violence , betrayal and tension. I highly recommend this book but I think the age limit would be +8.This book is for children , teenagers and adults so don't hold back if your older than 16. If you purchase this book enjoy, your going to love it.
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on 19 February 2015
This book contains such astonishing literature and stunning vocabulary all combined to create a unique masterpiece. This book proves a gregarious read due to a range of emotional writing no author I have known of to clearly express. I cannot wait for this highly talented author to produce yet another one of these magnificently written books....
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on 17 February 2014
This book was absolutely amazing. Our mum read it to us and sometimes we convinced her to read more chapters late into the night. We can't wait for the next book to come out. We got the first book with our Christmas money. Very gripping tale.
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on 22 January 2014
This book was absolutely amazing there was action at every turn but it left on a cliff hanger which was kind've annoying the actual plot was so well planned there was turns and twists at every corner I really suggest anyone to read this book
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