Dawnthief (Chronicles of the Raven, Book 1)
By James Barclay
You’ll note in the above title, and on the book cover itself that this is Book 1 (the first) in a series titled Chronicles of the Raven (the Raven being the mercenary group the series revolves around). So you can imagine my surprise when, within the first 100 or so pages, 4 out of the 7 members of the Raven have been killed off. Yeah. And since the remaining members spend most of their time in those first 100 page mourning the death of their fellows, it’s a little hard to really get into reading this. Half of the main characters you’re supposed to care about are already dead, without giving you time to get to know them (and thus care that they’re dead), and the other half don’t show any individual character traits at all other than mourning their losses for the first long bit, so you don’t get to know them/care about them either. Not to mention that this is supposed to be an elite, highly skilled, always-gets-the-job-done type of group, and they’re dying like flies – doesn’t lend the setup credibility. Very unsatisfying. I was about ready to give up and put the book down for good when the author finally quit trying to prove how tough and rule-breaky he was, and quit killing off his characters long enough for me to give a damn. The second half or so of the book is better in that you do get to know the characters, though there’s some inconsistency in how they’re portrayed – Hirad, for example, is generally portrayed as fairly low intelligence, but has a few random comments that don’t at all fit with that, and have no explanation. The action is fast-paced and generally believable for the fantasy world it’s set in. The writing in general was unimpressive. If you can make it past the first 100 pages, you should have a light, relatively enjoyable read. That said, I will not be picking up any of the rest of this series.
I give it 2/5 stars.