Noonshade by James Barclay

(2001-12-14)

The Chronicles of the Raven: Book 2

The results of the events that helped to close the previous volume in the Chronicles of the Raven are the impetus for the story in Noonshade. The super-spell Dawnthief was cast, eradicating the Wytch Lords, but leaving open a gate, or rather a tear in the sky of Balaia to neighboring dimensions. In particular, the Dragon dimension, which could mean devastation for the land of Balaia.

When Denser stole the amulet back in the beginning of Dawnthief, he unwillingly and as the Dragons say, small thinking, broke a bond between the Dragons and people of Balaia. The Kaan dragons, rulers of the dragon dimension, bonded and formed a symbiotic partnership with the great, near-mythic mage Septern of Balaia. As a result of this bond, the Kaan keep other dragons from invading and destroying the dimension of Balaia, as other dragons have done to other dimensions.

Along with trying to close the rift in the sky, there is a backdrop of war between the magic-hating Wesmen and the colleges of Magic. The Wesmen have made it their ultimate goal to abolish magic and let men rule the world, rather than the mysterious mages.

Barclay has improved his skill with this volume. His crafting of the Dragon dimension is full of life and their history resonates with believability. Nooneshade doesn’t miss a beat in terms of the action and continuing build of the Raven as a wonderful, memorable team of characters. The core of the Raven is still strong, even if a few perished in Dawnthief and a new members joined.

We also learn more about the Protectors, the ultimate fighting troop of the Xeteskian college of magic. They are an unstoppable force, not dissimilar to the Blood Guard of Donaldson Covenant books. Again, Barclay has taken a fantasy commonality and turned his own spin on it, making it fresh and new.

Barclay masterfully weaves the differing storylines together, revealing a great story that comes to a satisfying conclusion, while knowing there is more in store for the Raven.

Noonshade is an excellent continuation of The Chronicles of the Raven. It can be enjoyed either with or without reading the previous volume, but why would you NOT want to read Dawntheif?

Check out Barclay’s site at http://www.jamesbarclay.com

Reviewed by Rob H. Bedford
robbedford@earthlink.net


© Rob Bedford 2001

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