This review is about the second book of the Legends of The Raven series by James Barclay: Shadowheart. It was actually the middle book of the series, before Barclay decided to add one last novel about the adventures of The Raven, Ravensoul, to the series. I’m glad he did, because Ravensoul is a thing of beauty, especially after the events that occurred in Demonstorm, the third book in the series. But right now, I’ll be talking about Shadowheart.
Though they’ve interrupted Xetesk’s plans for Elven genocide – and have earned themselves the love and praise of the entire Elven race – The Raven are not yet done. Ilkar is dead and Julatsa is still on the brink of destruction. The Elves still need to get back their sacred texts which were stolen by Xetesk. And Dordover and Lystern have formed an unhappy allegiance, to wage war on Xetesk and protect Julatsa. The Black Wings sense their time has come and the Wesmen smell victory and the much anticipation of the destruction of magic. The Raven, with the help of the Al-Arynaar, TaiGethen and ClawBound must reclaim the sacred texts, protect the College of Julatsa and most importantly: raise its heart. Otherwise Julatsan magic will be snuffed out for eternity and the balance of Balaia will forever be changed. Two more important tasks are at hand as well: the release of the Protectors and sending the Dragon Sha Kaan home.
The core of The Raven has been forever changed because of Erienne becoming the One Mage and Ilkar’s death. Darrick is now a wanted fugitive in Lystern and a death sentence hangs above his head. Thraun can hardly talk and Denser is worried deeply for his wife. The Unknown Warrior is once again ripped away from him wife and child to save their ungrateful country and Hirad is still seething about his best friend’s death.
They all know who is to blame for all the trouble and pain and suffering. Xetesk. Always Xetesk. But now they also have the animosity of the Lysternans and Dordovans, because they all want the ultimate prize. The one weapon that could win this war. The One mage. Unfortunately, that’s Erienne, a member of The Raven. And they aren’t going to let them use her. Especially not after the Dordovan High mage handed her over to the Black Wings some time ago.
The Julatsan mages have to deal with failures of mana and can no longer trust their magical abilites. If the Heart isn’t raised, they will never be able to cast a spell again. The failures show just how much mana is a part of mages’ lives. The fear of losing that integral part of them is overwhelming. I think Barclay really showed their desperation and dedication. As he did for the desperate feelings of the members of The Raven. They are caught up in a war and three of the four sides want them either captured or dead. But they have to do this, not for Balaia. But for Ilkar and his memory.