When James Barclay told me that he was working on a seventh Raven book, I was ecstatic. Life had another marker for me to plan towards, just like the days when I had Lord of the Rings movies and DVD's to divide my year into irregular thirds. But I knew that it was going to be a farewell book; a completion to one of the most action packed, well written and rollicking adventure fantasy series there had ever been.
And the book does not leave you disappointed. Similar in fashion to the finale to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, James Barclay gives fans of the series all the inside baseball jokes and references we could hope for. It is the perfect culmination of seven stories worth of characters, plot lines and excitement.
Barclay had already created the premise for this book long before he had even considered writing this book. Barclay's first book, Dawnthief, heralded the beginning of the mechanics which allowed for Ravensoul to plausibly exist. Barclay doesn't just throw in a new plot device to garner a seventh book and pay check; he builds upon the extensive universal mechanics which played pivotal roles in books one, two and six.
A Raven book wouldn't be anything without the Raven; and with the devastation left us at the end of book six, returning from the dead was the only option open to Barclay. However the book is done well, and as I said, plausibly (relatively speaking) given what had preceded it.
To give even a fleeting summary of the book would be to ruin much of the surprises in stall for you. This could be true for most books, but when you're coming in at book seven, its best to be circumspect.
That being said, the heart and soul of this book (pardon the pun) is Sol, the Unknown Soldier, now reluctant King of Balaia. Plagued with dreams of impending doom and the possibility his friends were in danger beyond the grave, the book starts off running. Not to mention Auum and his Tai are already encountering the threat Sol is dreaming about.
One of the disappointing aspects of this book was Barclay's characterization of Denser. A stalwart of the Raven since he cast Dawnthief, Denser – now High Lord of Xetesk – undergoes a serious personality change. It is temporary, of course, and leads me to be a little suspicious of the literary motivations behind it; as if Barclay couldn't find another way to direct events as he needed. It left me feeling as if I never knew the character.
However with that aside (and the occasional grammatical or typing mistake not picked up in editorial), Ravensoul is a perfect picture of James Barclay's ability to write gripping story. Towards the end of the book, when Sol must take upon his shoulders a great burden, I was literally crying in my chair. Handkerchief held to my clenched teeth, eyes and nose dripping, my glasses fogging up, I had to go outside and put washing on the line before I could come back and start reading.
More than that, Barclay left me once again hoping for sequels. Or at least more books set in the same universe. The openings he left in his characters at the end of the book, the locations he left them, were superb. Not just from a “please let there be more books” point of view, but from a “wow, he wrapped that up perfectly” point of view.
This is not really a book for those who are new to the Raven. Much of what happens is based upon and references what came before in the previous six books. You are bound to get confused, lost, and you'll feel cheated. Granted, it might also make you want to go back and understand all that you've missed as well.
But for those of us who have read the Raven books, then this is a must. A beautiful cover treatment, rebranding the entire series makes this book the perfect book for your shelf. The book is also the perfect book to cap off a fantastic series.
Review by Joshua S Hill
1 positive reader review(s) for Ravensoul
Dennis from Niagara Falls, New York
This is a book is one that takes everything the characters of the Raven and associated members thought they knew and lived and learn how it all could be used in an awesome and different way. How having faith and trust gained through the brotherhood of battle could allow you to maybe not recognise the flesh but the soul through the idiosyncratic small things each of us does without really meaning to. This book gives you questions and answers that everyone doesn't ask or even knows how to answer.
8.9/10 from 2 reviews