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Ravensoul (Legends of the Raven 4) by James…
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Ravensoul (Legends of the Raven 4)

by James Barclay

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I would have enjoyed this more if Barclay had actually planned to write the Chonicles trilogy in four parts. As it stands, it feels like a tacked on novel that he was pursuaded to write against his better judgement. Despite this criticism, his characterisation and dialogue are as strong as in his previous books, which compensates somewhat; however, one hopes he won't try to force it any more. ( )
  Tselja | May 4, 2010 |
I had such happy memories of the 6 Barclay "Raven" books that I just had to get this to see what they do next.

Admittedly, even reading the back cover synopsis I began to have my doubts. [Mild spoiler alert for the first 6 books] Barclay did a great job in the first books to kill off some of his best characters- that made a good impact. It also put the books a step above much of the usual swords+sorcerors material, where every character that gets described in more than 2 sentences survives with minimal damage (the 'A-team' method). I'm not sure why he decided to make the series continuation in progressional time (rather than say, an early or mid-life Raven adventures).

So, does Barclay manage the "Dallas shower scene" resurrections in anything like a believable manner? Does the story work?

Overall, I'm afraid not, although he did get close in a couple places, this is a disappointing book.

The premise is that the land of the dead has been under attack by mana-hungry alien Garonin and now they are coming to the real world. Thus can all of the Raven dead come back as zombies into borrowed recently-dead bodies. Various wrong bodies. No hilarity ensues. The rest of the book they must fight the Garonin and find a different dimension to retreat into.

Where the zombie-Raven had potential grudges from their death events having clear blame, it was all rather unsatisfactorily skirted over. Where elf brothers/ mage wives are involved, again, this book barely acknowledges deep previous relationships. I laughed out loud when the husband/ wife discussed their dead daughter, very poor. It is as though someone took potted biographies of nearly every single character from the first books and then only used those bare facts. No real characterization or development comes through in this book at all. All of the characters you loved disintegrate to their most two-dimensional stereotypical catchphrases and attributes. There is some inter-dimensional travelling that is also not greatly expanded, all left to the "woo". If I could re-write this book, I would take out the apparent need to name check EVERYTHING from the first 6 books. Also maybe the older dead souls could have lost the strength to return? (thus stopping the quick write/ rekill of characters it feels he didn't know what to do with). I think we could have done without the dragons/ elves/ interdimensional parts of the storylines and in particular the Protectors and dragons are shoehorned in, just for the namecheck. The battles are well written and interesting but I do believe less could have been more for this book.

If you've enjoyed the first 6 it may be best to leave it at that. Even 2.5 stars is more wishing on what this could have been. I accept that I'm out of step with the majority opinion here; I've not read any poor review of this book anywhere online yet. ( )
  C4RO | Sep 21, 2009 |
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Blood sprayed across Geskard's chest.
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What would you do if a stranger came to your door claiming to be your best friend. A best friend who you saw die ten years before? The Unknown Warrior has spent the last ten years mourning the dead of the legendary mecernary band The Raven. Reluctant ruler of Balaia he has also presided over the gradual recovery of the land after the devastation of the Demonstorm. The one other surviving member of The Raven, Denser has spent the years rebuilding Xetesk to be the dominant college of magic. But something is very wrong. There are rumours of the dead coming back to life. And the Elves are fleeing their homeland. Something unutterably awful is happening. Something that has spread across all the dimensions. Something that threatens the very essence of the world, that has terrified the spirits of the dead. Brought them back to Balaia. And amongst them The Raven. Desperate, and facing a fight that cannot be won.
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Most of the Raven are dead, but even in death they answer the call when Balaia faces its greatest threat yet. But can spirits even as great as those of the Raven do anything when their bodies have died?

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