FSFH Book Review

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Abnett, Dan
Adams, Douglas
Aguirre-Sacasa, Roberto
Allen, Roger MacBride
Allie, Scott
Allston, Aaron
Anderson, Kevin J.
Barclay, James
Barnes, Steven
Baum, L. Frank
Bear, Greg
Bendis, Brian Michael
Bischoff, David
Bisson, Terry
Blackman, Haden
Bova, Ben
Bowen, Carl
Brooks, Terry
Canavan, Trudi
Card, Orson Scott
Chadwick, Paul
Clarke, Arthur C.
Clarke, Susanna
Clemens, James
Collins, Paul
Crichton, Michael
Crispin, A. C.
Cunningham, Elaine
Daley, Brian
David, Peter
DeMatteis, J. M.
Denning, Troy
Dick, Philip K.
Dickens, Charles
Dietz, William C.
Dixon, Chuck
Donaldson, Stephen
Eddings, David
Edginton, Ian
Elrod, P. N.
Erikson, Steven
Feist, Raymond E.
Foster, Alan Dean
Fraction, Matt
Furman, Simon
Gaiman, Neil
Gemmell, David A.
Gerber, Michael
Gibbons, Dave
Golden, Christopher
Goodkind, Terry
Goodwin, Archie
Graham, Mitchell
Grant, Alan
Green, Jonathan
Green, Laurence
Guggenheim, Marc
Hagberg, David
Hambly, Barbara
Hamilton, Laurell K.
Hand, Elizabeth
Harras, Bob
Harrison, Mick
Heinlein, Robert A.
Herbert, Frank
Herbert, James
Hine, David
Hobb, Robin
Howard, Robert E.
Jacques, Brian
James, Charlie Hamilton
Jenkins, Paul
Jeter, K. W.
Johns, Geoff
Jones, J. V.
Jordan, Robert
Jurgens, Dan
Karpyshyn, Drew
Kennedy, Mike
Kerr, Katharine
Keyes, Greg
King, Stephen
King, William
Knaak, Richard A.
Kube-McDowell, Michael P.
Lawhead, Stephen
Layman, John
Le Guin, Ursula K.
Lewis, C. S.
Lieberman, A. J.
Loeb, Jeph
Lorey, Dean
Lowder, James
Luceno, James
Lumley, Brian
Macan, Darko
Manning, Russ
Martin, George R. R.
Marz, Ron
Matheson, Richard
McCaffrey, Anne
McIntosh, Neil
McIntyre, Vonda
Michelinie, David
Millar, Mark
Miller, John Jackson
Miller, Karen
Milligan, Peter
Moench, Doug
Moesta, Rebecca
Moore, Alan
Nicholls, Stan
Nicieza, Fabian
Nylund, Eric
O'Neil, Dennis
Ostrander, John
Paolini, Christopher
Perry, S. D.
Perry, Steve
Pratchett, Terry
Pullman, Philip
Quinn, David
Reaves, Michael
Reed, A. W.
Reed, Brian
Rice, Anne
Richardson, Nancy
Roberts, Adam
Rowe, Matthew
Rowling, J. K.
Rubio, Kevin
Rusch, Kristine Kathryn
Salvatore, R.A.
Shelley, Mary
Shultz, Mark
Simone, Gail
Simonson, Louise
Simonson, Walter
Smith, L. Neil
Spurrier, Simon
Stackpole, Michael A.
Stevenson, Robert Louis
Stewart, Sean
Stoker, Bram
Stover, Matthew
Straczynski, J. Michael
Stradley, Randy
Strnad, Jan
Sutcliff, Rosemary
Tolkien, J.R.R.
Traviss, Karen
Truman, Tim
Turtledove, Harry
Tyers, Kathy
van Belkom, Edo
Veitch, Tom
Wagner, John
Watson, Jude
Whitman, John
Williams, Sean
Williams, Tad
Williams, Walter Jon
Windham, Ryder
Wolverton, Dave
Woodring, Jim
Wurts, Janny
Yeovil, Jack
Zahn, Timothy
Collaborations A - F
Collaborations G - M
Collaborations N - R
Collaborations S
Collaborations T - Z
Anthologies A - R
Anthologies S
Anthologies T - Z
Still to come
Reviewing Literature
The Books of James Barclay

Born in 1965, James Barclay was raised in Felixstowe, Suffolk, England.  He has a BA (Hons) in Communication Studies from Sheffield City Polytechnic and now lives in London.
Average Review Score: 4.5 out of 5 (2 books)

The first book of the Chronicles of the Raven.  The Raven are a veteran mercenary unit who, at first, I found a bit generic and hard to warm to.  However, you quickly develop a sympathy for them when it becomes clear that Barclay is quite comfortable with killing them off fairly brutally.  The fact that their mortality is highlighted like this, when so many other fantasy teams are all but invunerable, allows you to develop a greater appreciation of their bond with one another and the code by which they live.  Once you've warmed to the Raven themselves Barclay gives you a whole host of other characters to consider, the most interesting being the wise by obstinate mages of the four colleges.  I liked the concept of the four schools of magic who've been fiercely separated on grounds of doctrine for centuries but who are forced to unite by the threat of the Wytch Lords.  Now, the Wytch Lords themselves are definitely generic (powerful Dark Lords thought dead for centuries but who're now recovering their power and massing their armies), but aside from being a threat hanging over the plot, they are a fairly minor element of the book.  Once I got into the story I was completely hooked and enjoyed it very much.  It could be called another LotR clone, I guess, but epic fantasy is all about bands of heroes on quests, desperate battles and sieges and the threat of overwhelming evil.  Basically, Barclay adds enough freshness of his own to the old formula to make it worthwhile.
5 out of 5
'The hand over her mouth stifled her screams as she awoke.'
The second book of the Chronicles of the Raven picks up where the last one left off.  Almost immediately we learn that the casting of the Dawnthief spell in the first book has unleashed an even greater threat upon the world of Balaia; an impending invasion by dragons.  My eye sockets ached a little from rolling my eyes when it's revealed that to save the world the Raven have to travel back all the way they came in 'Dawnthief' and then cast another super-powerful spell.  Because it'd been a while between reading the two books it also took me a while to rediscover my affection for the Raven themselves.  However, once I'd warmed to the characters once more and I'd dealt with the contrived plot, I really enjoyed the book.  As before Barclay's talent as a writer shines through the cliches and he creates a thoroughly enjoyable fantasy adventure.  Oddly enough, it is the plotlines which don't follow the Raven which stand out in quality, with the military efforts of General Darrick and the excellently-plotted siege of Julatsa which prove the book's best elements.  I have to say, however, that everything here involving the dragons either bored me or just plain annoyed me, so it's not all good news.
4 out of 5

If you liked Barclay:
Then give David A. Gemmell a try.

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