Consisting of 7 books in total (the 6 pictured above and the final eposiode: Ravensoul), the Raven series of books written by James Barclay is by far my favourite fantasy collection.
Following a group of mercenaries called the Raven, the books tell the incredible story of their lives as everything in their world gets turned upside down. The enemies they face earlier on in the series are somewhat mundane in nature, though the group still need to combine their talents and expertise with a whole bunch of luck in order to survive the ordeals that face them. As the series continues, the group find themselves in the very centre of the challenge to save their world and all inhabitants from extinction.
I’m reluctant to write a true review of the series as I believe that any fantasy buff who happens upon this should in fact read them for themselves. What I will say though is the writing style is captivating and seamless, giving a consistently enticing narrative of both the micro and macro activities occurring throughout the fictional universe that’s been created. The characters are well developed and so is the magic system that’s been fleshed out to the point that you really begin to understand how magic works within this realm and wonder yourself if you might have magical powers of your own to draw on.
The races represented are familiar (human, elves, etc), although they have their own origins and backstories that give them a unique feel in this saga, but don’t push so far beyond the typical fantasy setting that buffs will need to stretch their imaginations too far to grasp what drives these populations in their purposes.
I found myself so attached to the characters that upon finalising the series in Ravensoul, I was brought to tears as my friends by then, the Raven’s story reached it’s closing song.
I’ve lent Dawnthief to more people than any other book in my collection (my copy is currently on-loan as I write this), and so many of the recipients have gone on to enjoy the entire series themselves.
If you’ve only got time in your life to read one epic fantasy saga, don’t go for the song of ice and fire, pickup Dawnthief and begin the journey with the Raven and I promise you won’t be disappointed!