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The Ravens of Falkenau & Other Stories

by Jo Graham

Series: Numinous World (4)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
342547,398 (3.94)2
"The world is a numinous place, for those who have eyes to see it. Welcome to the Numinous World, where gods and angels intervene in the lives of mortals, and a band of eternal companions unite and reunite over the centuries, striving to make the world a better place despite wars and dark ages, hatred and cruelty. Here are stories from the very beginning of our history, when the Lady of Cats entered the life of a young woman and changed her forever, long ago when farmers first scraped a living from the soil. Here too are stories of the ancient world - of Dion, the peerless scientist of Alexandria, of Lucia, a Roman waif, of a Persian princess and her Jewish sister in law, of Lydias of Miletus who is once and always Ptolemy's man, and of a Nubian girl who begins a long journey toward a strange destiny. There are stories of the Dark Ages, of a last Roman outpost on the shores of Britain and of an Arab warrior who at last comes home to a white city on the sea, of a Scottish witch who serves the Storm Queen and fears no other magic, and a Knight Templar enslaved by the beauty of the world. Others follow - a messenger boy dragged into the Great Story and a desperate ride dogged by the Wild Hunt, and a mercenary captain of the Thirty Years War who finds his destiny in a remote corner of the Bohemian mountains. Here too are more modern tales of the Age of Revolution, when Dion, Emrys, Sigismund and Charmian reunite in Napoleonic Paris, and at last we roll into the twentieth century with a young American girl with extraordinary oracular powers. Of course there is also Michael, Mik-el, Mikhael, who watches over his charges as best he may, though the world may change around them. These are tiny windows into a miraculous world, glimpses through a glass and darkly of all that might be - for those with eyes to see. Table of Contents The Ravens of Falkenau 1614 AD Dion Ex Machina 4 BC Cold Frontier 505 AD Small Victories 1800 AD How the Lady of Cats Came to Nagada 8000 BC Prince Over the Water 1040 AD Horus Indwelling 285 BC Paradise 641 AD Slave of the World 1203 AD Little Cat 1012 BC Vesuvius 79 AD Unfinished Business 22 BC The Messenger's Tale 1553 AD Morning Star 469 BC Templar Treasure 1188 AD Winter's Child 1821 AD Brunnhilde in the Fire 1901 AD."--… (more)

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Summary: In Jo Graham's Numinous World, there are people that are born over and over again throughout history. Their lives intersect in different ways in each incarnation, but they are frequently those touched by gods and angels, and even when they are born into the darkest ages, they strive to make their world and their time a better place.

The Ravens of Falkenau is a collection of short stories about these characters; a collection that spans ages and continents, from Persia to Boston, from ancient Egypt to Napoleonic France, from Arthurian England to the shores of Pompeii.

Review: One of my favorite things about Jo Graham's Numinous World books (apart from the great writing and compelling stories) is that they are simultaneously interconnected and totally independent; someone interested in Alexander the Great could read Stealing Fire, someone interested in Cleopatra could read Hand of Isis, someone interested in Aeneas could read Black Ships, without ever having to consider the other novels in the series. But, on the other hand, reading all of them makes the experience richer, because there are so many subtle layers of interconnection.

This balance doesn't quite work as well in The Ravens of Falkenau as it does in Graham's full-length books, probably due to the structure of the short story. A lot of the of the stories in this collection are very short; more sketches or scenes than complete stories with a proper beginning-middle-end. Much of the impact of these shorter pieces is therefore dependent upon a familiarity with the main character from previous incarnations, rather than being contained within the story itself, which makes them interesting but ultimately unsatisfying, and not so able to stand on their own. There are certainly threads of interconnection even within the book, but they're not always enough to support the briefer vignettes.

The longer stories, I think, were the strongest. Some of my favorites featured characters (incarnations, rather) that we'd met before - "Horus Indwelling" provided a nice epilogue to Stealing Fire - while others were new times and new situations. I particularly liked "The Messenger's Tale", set in pre-Elizabethan England, with its sense of British history mingling with British legend, and connecting with something even older and deeper than that.

In general, even when an individual piece didn't work as well as I thought it could have, I really appreciated the variety of time periods and characters covered by the stories in this collection. It's not all that often that you get Egyptian mythology, the eruption of Vesuvius, the French revolution, and the Knights Templar all in one volume, and I enjoyed looking for the interconnecting threads in each new setting. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: While it's tempting to recommend this as a way for historical fiction fans to get a sense of Jo Graham's style and feel for history, I think it will probably work better for those who are already familiar with The Numinous World - certainly the author's notes that head the stories are geared towards people who have already met Gull, Charmian, Dion, Lydias, Ptolemy, etc. ( )
3 vote fyrefly98 | Sep 5, 2011 |
One very good read! Of course, with any collection of short stories, there will be one or two favourites. Mine was Horus Indwelling. http://allbookedup-elena.blogspot.com/2011/06/ravens-of-falkenau-and-other-stori... ( )
  ElenaGwynne | Jun 9, 2011 |
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"The world is a numinous place, for those who have eyes to see it. Welcome to the Numinous World, where gods and angels intervene in the lives of mortals, and a band of eternal companions unite and reunite over the centuries, striving to make the world a better place despite wars and dark ages, hatred and cruelty. Here are stories from the very beginning of our history, when the Lady of Cats entered the life of a young woman and changed her forever, long ago when farmers first scraped a living from the soil. Here too are stories of the ancient world - of Dion, the peerless scientist of Alexandria, of Lucia, a Roman waif, of a Persian princess and her Jewish sister in law, of Lydias of Miletus who is once and always Ptolemy's man, and of a Nubian girl who begins a long journey toward a strange destiny. There are stories of the Dark Ages, of a last Roman outpost on the shores of Britain and of an Arab warrior who at last comes home to a white city on the sea, of a Scottish witch who serves the Storm Queen and fears no other magic, and a Knight Templar enslaved by the beauty of the world. Others follow - a messenger boy dragged into the Great Story and a desperate ride dogged by the Wild Hunt, and a mercenary captain of the Thirty Years War who finds his destiny in a remote corner of the Bohemian mountains. Here too are more modern tales of the Age of Revolution, when Dion, Emrys, Sigismund and Charmian reunite in Napoleonic Paris, and at last we roll into the twentieth century with a young American girl with extraordinary oracular powers. Of course there is also Michael, Mik-el, Mikhael, who watches over his charges as best he may, though the world may change around them. These are tiny windows into a miraculous world, glimpses through a glass and darkly of all that might be - for those with eyes to see. Table of Contents The Ravens of Falkenau 1614 AD Dion Ex Machina 4 BC Cold Frontier 505 AD Small Victories 1800 AD How the Lady of Cats Came to Nagada 8000 BC Prince Over the Water 1040 AD Horus Indwelling 285 BC Paradise 641 AD Slave of the World 1203 AD Little Cat 1012 BC Vesuvius 79 AD Unfinished Business 22 BC The Messenger's Tale 1553 AD Morning Star 469 BC Templar Treasure 1188 AD Winter's Child 1821 AD Brunnhilde in the Fire 1901 AD."--

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