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The Black Raven by Katharine Kerr

The Black Raven (1999)

by Katharine Kerr

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Deverry Cycle (10), The Dragon Mage (2)

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673314,218 (3.84)46



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The second book in the Dragon Mage sequence from Katharine Kerr. Once again, we spend the majority of the book in the past, exploring Lillorigga's burgeoning dweomer power and her relationship to the various souls who she is destined to encounter again when she becomes Niffa in the future. At the moment it is fairly confusing trying to keep straight who is who in both the past and the current incarnations. The only person who I can really keep straight is Maddyn the bard (in the past) becoming Rhodry Maelwaedd (in the current), and this is due to the silver rose ring.

Once again I would urge anyone interested in this book to trek right back to the beginning of the books (starting with Daggerspell). Kerr herself has explained that her books should be seen almost as three acts in a play, or as a Celtic knot, whereby the complicated pattern will only become clear once you have seen the whole.

Although I adore spending time in the past - particularly with Lillorigga, who I believe to be one of Kerr's strongest characters - in this instance I became frustrated with the fact that Rhodry's story has not progressed AT ALL in two books. He is still sitting in Cengarn, waiting for the longest winter in the world to end so that his plot can move forward. The only times we ever visit Rhodry is so that we can be introduced to a particular storyline from the past, such as why Raena and Rhodry feel such enmity.

Saying this, the book is still worthy of four stars in my opinion, because Kerr writes the past so beautifully. In fact, barring the few outright mentions of dweomer or Wildfolk, this could be a very strong historical novel about Celtic times. She brings to life the politics, the in-fighting, the heraldry, the weaponry. It is very easy to enjoy all of the little details that she adds. One I would mention is the fact that the characters only know medicine and surgery as much as though living in those times for real would know. So, when the princess Bellyra is suffering from postnatal depression, Nevyn talks about her humours being out of balance. I also love how he ponders why some wounds fester, while others don't, and why blood can be different colours depending on where the body is cut in battle. This is all matters that you would expect chirurgeons of the time to be frustrated by.

Nevyn was also a deeply welcome return to the Deverry books, both in this novel and the previous. During the Westlands cycle he was absent and I found Jill unable to fill his shoes. Despite his massive dweomer power, he is wise and compassionate and enjoys the details of people's lives. He takes apprentices willingly and with patience. He is definitely one of the strongest parts of the Deverry series and it is a joy to read more of him.

All in all, really enjoyed this and cantered through the rather slight volume (in comparison to prior books in the series). Looking forward to the next. ( )
1 vote magemanda | Aug 19, 2009 |
Book two of the dragon mage series this continues the stories of Deverry. There's a lot here and past lives impinge on what people are doing in the present giving it quite a surreal feeling occasionally. It's interesting but sometimes it lagged a bit. I will continue reading this series, mostly to find out what happens with Lilli, a young apprentice to magic.

Civil wars are over and Prince Maryn sees peace coming. His wife suffers badly from post natal depression (it's not described as such and this is part of the power of this series, the characters only have as much understanding as they would have in this period).

Centuries later evil rises again and it's what happens in the past that colours what happens in the future. However while this is an interesting part of this series it is also part of it's weakness. I spend sometimes more time wondering who was or is who rather than concentrating on the story.

Flawed but interesting and I do want to read more in this series. ( )
  wyvernfriend | Sep 10, 2008 |
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Katharine Kerrprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kanmert Sjölander, MolleTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Taylor, GeoffCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Youll, PaulCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Always the sorcerer must prepare for hindrances and setbacks. Before any working of great lenght and import, he must spend long nights in study of the omens, for if the Macrocosm can find a way to defeat him, it will, preferring in its laziness the natural order over any change wrought by our arts, no matter how greatly that change will be to its benefit.-The Psuedo-Iamblichos Scroll
For my grandmother,
Elsa Petersen Brahtin
1899 - 1985

The courage in her life amazed me
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"Marka, dearest?" Keeta said. "I'm sorry. There's something wrong with him."
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0553579193, Mass Market Paperback)

The Black Raven is Book Two of The Dragon Mage and the 10th volume of the Deverry series, a fantasy epic consisting of three interrelated quartets. As Katherine Kerr says, the past and the present are woven together in these novels, and the final volume will link with the first to reveal an overall design akin to a Celtic knot threading back and forth upon itself. This is a strange, pseudo-Celtic world in which reincarnation is a reality and past lives forever affect the present in surprising and unexpected ways. So, while The Black Raven can stand alone, it is advisable that readers begin with the first book, Daggerspell.

In this complex novel of civil war, sacrifice, and power, what impresses most is that Kerr uses an epic canvas to tell a strongly characterized and very human tale of hatred and destructive evil, and of the consequences of past malevolence on both the heroine Lilli and the Prince Maryn. By keeping the narrative tightly focused around a small number of characters, and by maintaining strict limits on the rather elaborately conceived elements of magic and the supernatural, Katherine Kerr ensures that her fantastical history does not overwhelm the more personal and affecting dimensions of the tale. The result is a polished, emotionally involving, and powerful novel in which even the dreams of a dragon may come evocatively to life. --Gary S. Dalkin, Amazon.co.uk

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:58:23 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Centuries later, in the city of Cerr Cawnen, the old evil awakens yet again when the sorceress Raena schemes to destroy Rhodry Maelwaedd, her bitter enemy during life after life. But her malice will draw the intervention of astral powers-and unleash the ravaging rage of Rhodry's guardian dragon. Only another untried dweomer can buy safety of rthe city and the berserker himself-and only at a most fearsome price...… (more)

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