Review: Elfsorrow by James Barclay


Elfsorrow, the very first novel in the Legends of The Raven series by James Barclay which continues where The Chronicles of The Raven ended. Arguably, this is my favourite novel of all of The Raven series and the most touching and horrifying for me personally. In the review below, I’ll tell you why.


The Raven have been struggling after the death of Lyanna, the Nightchild and keeper of the One Magic. Balaia is on the brink of war as Xetesk and Dordover are both intent on each other’s destruction. The Raven decide to set sail for Calaius, the Elven continent, to find Ilkar the mages he needs to rebuild Julatsa. But a platoon of Xetesk has arrived there before them and has desecrated the most important temple of the Elven faith; the temple of Yniss, the creator of the Elves. They have destroyed the harmony of the rainforest and the Elven race and the Sorrow is killing thousands of Elves. The Raven, alongside the most powerful native Elven warriors must get back what the men from Xetesk stole before the Sorrow wipes out all Elves. Including Raven mage Ilkar.


This novel has definitely touched me the most of all The Raven novels (well, maybe with the exception of Ravensoul) mainly because 1) there are Elves and I happen to love Elves in every form, 2) I got more insight in the friendships of the members of The Raven and 3) because Barclay breaks away from his former success formula. This is the first book where members (yes, plural) of The Raven meet their end. It happened as well in the first book Dawnthief, but because that was at the beginning of the book I wasn’t emotionally invested in them yet. And the Unknown Warrior actually came back to life (not exactly as himself, but still).

In this novel, members of The Raven, the mercenary unit of legend, die. And some are quite heroic but horrifying deaths. One of my favourite members died from something that could have been avoided if not for the High mage of Xetesk and his apparent love for genocide. The Black Wings are more prominently featured, as are the Protectors and the complications and aftermath of the Night of Lyanna.

When reading the novel, you get a sense of the world in particular, not just Balaia. In fact, Balaia isn’t even that important in this novel. It’s about the Elves and their homeland Calaius. You get a glimpse of Elven society and their fractions of warriors and priests. It’s a different taste than what you’re used to if you’ve read the previous novels. But it still fits. And I’m looking forward to seeing the Elves in future novels again. The Al-Arynaar, TaiGethen and the ClawBound.


10/10 (I was going to give it a 9/10, because my favourite character died, but that wouldn’t be fair. Barclay didn’t disappoint in any way)


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