The third title in the epic fantasy The Chronicles of the Raven series by James Barclay takes place five years after the events in the previous title, Noonshade. The land of Balaia is being ravaged by extremes in weather-- tidal waves sweep whole towns into the sea, earthquakes open the ground to swallow castles. But these are no natural disasters. An old power has been reborn, one that merges the magic of all four colleges and threatens their existence. This powerful magic has manifested in Denser and Erienne's daughter Lyanna and the colleges will do anything to control her.
After Erienne hides Lyanna, all four college race to find her-- either to control or kill her. Denser calls upon the rest of the Raven to help him find her first. Not only do they have to reconcile their own strained relationships and changing identities, they have to navigate amongst witch hunters and an erstwhile ally turned jailer. An apocryphal lore predicts death, but the Raven hope to prove the prophecy wrong.
Since the first title, Dawntheif, the members of the Raven have changed and grown, both as a group and as individuals, but they remain a group that can count on each other despite their arguments. Lyanna is an innocently terrifying character-- an earth shattering power contained in the mind of a five year old, her whims wreaking havoc while she is unaware. There is plenty of the vivid battle scenes so prominent in the previous two books, but I think Nightchild is a much darker, more emotional book, partly because the threat to Balaia is a child.
The Chronicles of the Raven by James Barclay has been pleasure to read. All three titles are fast paced and filled with wonderful characters, but I think Nightchild is my favorite. Enough of the story is resolved to give a sense of ending, but enough is left open to fuel future stories (most notably, the three Kaan dragons left stranded in Baiala). The whole series is now among my favorites.
Nightchild by James Barclay
Printed by Pyr
Nightchild by James Barclay is available at Amazon.com
Pyr Publishing provided me with a free review copy of Nightchild