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Dawnthief (Chronicles of the Raven 1) Paperback – September 22, 2009

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Dawnthief (Chronicles of the Raven 1) + Noonshade (Chronicles of the Raven 2) + Nightchild (Chronicles of the Raven 3)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 403 pages
  • Publisher: Pyr (September 22, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591027799
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591027799
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 6 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #932,043 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Blood, sex and magic dance (sort of awkwardly) to a Terry Brooks tune in the pages of James Barclay's sprawling epic Dawnthief, the first book in his Chronicles of the Raven series. When members of the mercenary gang The Raven (motto: "Kill But Never Murder") agree to accompany a Xeteskian mage on his journey, little do they know that he will hold their destinies and the fate of the world in his hands, as he struggles to destroy the Wytch Lords, command the Dawnthief spell and live long enough to be a father to his unborn child. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Barclay's hefty novel launches the Chronicles of the Raven, but be of good cheer, for it injects some originality into the traditional fantasy saga recipe. The Raven is a band of six humans and one elf in the war-torn kingdom of Balaia, which Barclay fills with the fruits of his considerable knowledge of military history and folklore. The comrades are no nicer than fellows loyal to one another and no one else need be, and their latest commission is a poser for them. They are to escort a Xeteskian mage, who is working for only the gods know whom, on a mission to find Dawnthief, a ring, or more precisely, a spell connected to a ring, that in the wrong hands could end the world. The mission is backed and supervised by the Dark College, which is even more untrustworthy than the mage. So matters rapidly deteriorate, to a cliffhanger ending. The narrative may be jumbled, but Barclay builds a world and peoples it intelligently. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 55 people found the following review helpful By frumiousb VINE VOICE on August 15, 2005
Format: Paperback
Dawnthief is likely to appeal to the reader who wants a military fantasy with an emphasis on the bonds of teaming. There is a great deal of action, reasonably complex military thinking, and a focus on brotherhood.

The basic idea behind the notion of the books of the Raven is that there is a mercenary group which has become the best in the land by virtue of the fact that it puts the group above (almost) all other things. In this introductory book, the surviving members of the Raven give up the notion of retirement in order to fight a desperate battle for the higher good of the entire nation.

I am a fantasy reader who enjoys complex politics, detailed descriptions and a great deal of individual character development. (Think George R.R. Martin or Tad Williams as writers). If you are a reader like myself, there is a reasonably good chance that Dawnthief is not going to be your cup of tea. If you are a more Marion Zimmer Bradley or Sheri S. Tepper kind of fantasy reader (priestesses, universal bonds of understanding, etc.) then this is *definitely* not going to be the book for you.

I suspect that the ideal reader of this book is someone who gets bored with all the talkative bits of some of the more drawn out fantasies, and would like more action and military bonding.

The system of magic is well-created and as noted before, Barclay is a skilled writer of action scenes. I found some of the character development truly awful (most notably Erienne, the only significant female character), but then the individual character is not really the point of the reading experience. If you are the right reader for this book, then the minor quarrels should not bother you. If you are the wrong reader, best to give it a miss.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Steven Diamond on January 22, 2010
Format: Paperback
No spoilers, as always.

Pyr SF&F has been doing the US some favors over the past year by publishing novels that were previously only available in the UK. One of Pyr's most recent acquisitions is James Barclay's DAWNTHIEF. By bringing us this novel, we are treated to an honest-to-goodness adventure.

It seems like every Heroic Fantasy novel that is released is inevitably compared to the work of the late David Gemmell. Rarely do they deserve any comparison. Barclay's DAWNTHIEF, however, is truly worthy of the comparison to the works of Gemmell. In fact, Gemmell was a close friend of Barclay's, and I'm sure he would be more than proud of the reception Barclay's work has received thus far here in the US.

Now, there are a few things to make note of when reading this novel. DAWNTHIEF was originally published back in 1999 in the UK. In the fantasy industry, that is ages ago, and the state of the genre has changed. The novel feels very much in the tradition of 90's Heroic Fantasy based in role-playing games. Also, to my initial dismay, it has elves in it. I don't exactly like elves in novels anymore... Lastly, there are some rough transitions from scene to scene--especially in the beginning of the novel--likely due to this being Barclay's first novel.

Alright, now that those small things are out of the way, here is the good news (and there is a lot of it). I want you to picture a collaborative dream in which Gemmell and George R.R. Martin worked together. You have the intense, fast-paced, heroic action of Gemmell mixed with the brutal tone that Martin is famous for. Sound awesome? It should, and that is exactly the type of novel Barclay gives us with DAWNTHIEF. It is definitely much more brutal than Gemmell's novels, but not quite as harsh as Abercrombie's.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 10, 2003
Format: Paperback
I came accross this novel while browsing through amazon.co.uk, and after reading the synopsis and positive reviews of it, and the sequels, I decided to get all of them. And what a treat!
The first novel, Dawnthief, introduces the reader to The Raven, a ledendary mercenary group, and their struggles to rid West Balaia of a great predicament. I will not spoil the book by giving any details, but let me just say that The Raven go through many mis/adventures before they accomplish their mission. Or do they? :) Anyway, this is one of the fastest paced and action packed fantasy novels I have recently read, and the characters and dialog come accross as real world, not contrived theater drama. The conversations and behaviors are so real, that at first it might be hard to follow, and might lead to some believing there is little character development in the book. I disagree however, because first of all the characters come into the story grown and skilled, so there isn't much for them to discover about themselves or new skills they can acquire while we cheer them on. And second the characters don't spend pages and pages in thought or monologue revealing themselves to the reader. Instead, Barclay lets the reader see through the actions of the characters, and through dialog, what the characters see as right or wrong, and how they do develop throughout the novel.
Another strong point that the book has, and which many these days don't, is that the people are not immortal. People actually die in this book! And not just the "bad guys". All, and I mean ALL the protagonists are susceptible, and this gives the reader quite a rollercoaster ride in heart beat rate throughout the book and especially during the battle scenes.
I hope this book and the rest in the series become more popular in the US, and get printed here. Don't miss out on this great read even if it is a little hard to get a copy of it now. This is truly a classic in the making.
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