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Dawnthief by James Barclay - a review

Dawnthief is the first title in The Chronicles of the Raven, an epic fantasy series by British author James Barclay that is being released in the US by Pyr. The Raven is a group of mercenaries in the warring nation of Balaia. Their complete trust and loyalty to each other has given them a long and successful career that boasts a perfect record. After a major mistake leaves one of their members dead, a few begin to consider retirement, feeling themselves too old for the fighting. But first, they agree to take on one last assignment; to escort Denser, a mage from the dark Xeteskian college whose mere existence offends the Raven's own mage.

What starts as a routine escort job turns into an increasingly dangerous race to save all of Balaia from the powerful demi-god Wytch Lords. Thought to be banished from the world, they have returned with the aid of Balaia's enemies and are intent on conquering those against them. The Xeteskian mage holds the key to destroying the Wytch Lords-- the Dawnthief, a spell created to end the world. Denser leads the Raven on a journey to recover the parts needed to cast the spell in time to save their country.

Barclay writes an excellent epic fantasy. The action is realistic, as are the characters and their interaction with each other. I like the way he handles the magic, splitting it up into four colleges that have differing views of their gift and its role in Balaia. Knowing that the colleges indoctrinate their students to see themselves superior to another makes the tension between the mages feel real.

My Recommendation
Dawnthief by James Barclay is a must for any epic fantasy fan. With well written action and characters, it was a pleasure to read. The other titles in The Chronicles of the Raven series are already on my reading list.


Dawnthief by James Barclay
Reprinted by Pyr
403 pages


Dawnthief by James Barclay is available at Amazon.com

Pyr Publishing provided me with a free review copy of Dawnthief

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