Top critical review
Once more into the breach
on 9 December 2009
An unexpected addition to Barclay's raven series. I say unexpected because most of them died heroically at the end of his last book.
The Raven is/was a band of mercenaries that have included warriors, mages, Elves and even a shape shifter. As the series progressed through 7 previous books the line-up changed and they morphed from mercenaries to heroes and the land's best hope against all sorts of evil intent. A very enjoyable series which came to a natural and satisfying conclusion with Demonstorm.
So a bit of a shock to find another one pop up, and the author could have taken the easy route of fitting in an extra story set somewhere between the earlier books, but no, this is set some 15 years after Demonstorm. In this story, the dead are coming back into the bodies of the recently deceased. At the same time an ancient an unstoppable enemy is sweeping all before them, including the forest homes of the Elves. Can a Raven consisting of dead souls in new bodies make a final stand? There are a variety of bad guys in this, but the one who turns out to be the main human one will come as a bit of a shock!
This was okay and I like Barclay's writing, especially the easy camaraderie between the Raven and his dialogue in general. The plot and the threat was a little complex and it was harder to get into then I was expecting. Inter-dimensional jumps and links to previous books and characters did cause pause for thought a few times as I had to jog the memory, and this was a bit of a flaw. It feels like you should read this with the other books fresh in your mind, if you have read a lot of books since Demonstorm then it will take a while to refresh. It would have been helpful to have a list of the Raven members at the front and a reminder of which books they were from and how we left them.
It was an interesting concept to bring back the Raven, but I think it took something away from their previous sacrifice and the rounded ending that Demonstorm gave us. I think Barclay's many fans will enjoy seeing their heroes back, but may feel some discomfort at a book, perhaps. too far. It is also not a book for new readers to start with, they need to start at the beginning with the excellent Dawnthief and they have a treat in store. For those of us who have read all the books, I am not sure if this adds anything.