Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Raven by John Lawson

The first thing you notice about John Lawson's The Raven is the size of it at just over 600 pages. This may scare some people, but if you've read Witch Ember, it's prequel, you know you're in for a treat. In my opinion Lawson could never be constrained to a 300 page book. His worlds are so richly developed, his stories well thought out and thoroughly explained with all of their myths, legends, creations and creatures brought into vivid detail. And his characters are truly some of the most memorable I've read and I have no doubt that they'll stick with me for a long time. So let's start with characters for this review since the story focuses around one main character. I honestly thought I would be disappointed with this book as I first started reading it because it departs from the main character of the first book, Witch Ember (my review and Nymeth's wonderful review can be read by clicking on these links). In fact, she's not in The Raven at all except as a memory. The main character of The Raven is a man named Guiromelans, who played a role in the latter half of Witch Ember. Guiromelans is a Raven, a knight of the highest rank of the Medianist church who is sworn to serve God and rid the world of heresy. In Witch Ember, he fought against Esmeree, a witch that he loved yet was doomed to destroy because of her heresy and was defeated by her. So now, in The Raven, the focus turns to him. Why has God turned his back on him and allowed a witch to defeat him? Why was he unable to kill her when he knew that he swore a vow to God to destroy heretics? Guiromelans sets sail on a boat find his answers and atone for his shortcomings and seek forgiveness and redemption. But along the way he is faced with many trials and battles and meets many new friends and foes. He is forced to re-examine his training as a Raven even as he trains his own young squire. He has always accepted the fact that the only way to be in God's favor is to be a believer in God whether you are a good person or not. But how could some who claim to believe in God yet commit atrocities be in God's favor? And how could some who believe in a different god yet shine with radiance be damned to hell? These are all questions that Guiromelans must face as he struggles to atone for his past while facing the demons that he both phsyically and emotionally fights in this amazing sequel to Witch Ember. On top of all of this is John Lawson's wonderful skill of creating some of the most amazing battle scenes and fantasy worlds out there. Guiromelans and his crew arrive at a land called Hardanger where dark creatures called Udyronde which are centaur like creatures with four arms, sharp talons, and teeth like nobody's business have been destroying it's citizens. The most disturbing part is that the dead tend to come back and join in the destruction later on. As one of his many acts of redemption, Guiromelans vows to restore safety to a town that worships the Thunderer god...in other words, there are many conflicts along the way. As with Witch Ember, I can't say enough about this book except for check it out. You won't be disappointed. For lovers of dark fantasy or epic fantasy especially, you can't go wrong with this series. More info on the series can be found at his website. In fact you can buy both books there autographed! --------------------------------------------------- On a completely different note, I wanted everyone to know that Kim is doing an awesome giveaway of 4 books over at her blog Bold.Blue.Adventure to celebrate her 100th post!! Yay Kim!!! Keep going! Also, author J. Scott Savage is having lots of fun over at his blog and so am I. He's doing a sort of March Madness thing with fantasy series! He started with 60 fantasy series and every day you vote for your 5 favorites of the ones he has listed until we have them all the way down to the number 1 fantasy series out there...join in the fun over on his blog!

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