Review: Demonstorm by James Barclay


Demonstorm is the third book of The Legend of The Raven series by James Barclay. It was supposed to be the last book in the series – how couldn’t it be with that ending? – but Barclay decided to add the fourth and last book Ravensoul. A good but surprising call. Anyway, here’s my review.


Demons are ruling Balaia. Mankind has been enslaved – except for the Wesmen and the Elves. And that is because they have something that the former rulers of Balaia never had. What neither man nor mage ever had. Faith. Though their souls can’t be taken from them with a demon’s touch, they can still be killed. And it’s not just Balaia that’s under threat. The demons have found their way into the dimension of the dragons as well. And the realm of the dead is next. The Raven have been going their separate ways for five years, some living on Herendereth, others on Calaius. They no longer care for Balaia, since its inhabitants were so quick to forget all that The Raven has done for them. But there is one call they cannot ignore. One call they must heed. The dead are being threatened. And Ilkar is amongst them.


This novel further explored the way the dimensions are connected, with the demons able to threaten more than just Balaia. It was interesting to see how the dimensions were intertwined. The idea of the dead having their own dimension and Elven dead still being able to feel and sometimes even contact their loved ones was very intriguing. That the dead found warmth and peace in just being together. Just being.

It also gave me more insight on how the Wesmen and the Elves are strengthened by their faith, whether it’s gods or spirits. The fact that the Spirits were in the same realm as the dead gives me the impression that they are real. And that the shamen actually are in contact with some sort of higher being. The Raven and baron Blackthorne are also able to defy the demons’ soul stealing touch, because they too have faith. They believe in themselves. And Barclay shows just how strong belief can be, whether it has to do with some sort of religion or not.  The tenacity and sheer determination humans posses is also explored in this novel. The will to never give up. To survive no matter what. Or to give up your life so that others may live.

The mages, though still the most potent weapon against the demons, are in fact quite helpless. They can hurt the demons with spells and protect the non-mages by casting cold rooms (a place where mana can’t exist). But their souls are the most prized and they are the most sought after. Dordover has been reduced to five mages. Lystern only had seven. Julatsa was still going strong and was at one point the most powerful College still standing. And Xetesk…well, it was their fault the demons now rule Balaia. In the end, Xetesk becomes the battlefield for their lives. And The Raven, the Elves and The Wesmen all play a big part in it. For one, only the Wesmen can open the portal to the demon dimension.

I was really unpleasantly surprised by the ending of this novel. It’s fits with the initial idea of making it the last novel, but it left me very sad and very angry. The Raven travel to the demon dimension, with the help of Ilkar, and fight the demons together with the dragons. And they succeed in saving Balaia. They just don’t succeed to save themselves. In the end, only Denser and The Unknown Warrior – now going by his real name Sol – are left. And some parts of them wishes they had died with the rest of The Raven. It’s a strange and horrible ending; they were victorious, as I knew they would. But I never expected them to lose the battle for their lives.

(Of course, after hearing about Ravensoul, I felt some relief. Even though I had no idea how Barclay was going to write more adventures for The Raven when there were only two left, but he pulled it off. He did something many writers try to do unsuccessfully and he nailed it. But more on that in my last review of The Legends of the Raven.)


9/10 (Because killing Ilkar wasn’t enough, he just had to kill off pretty much everyone else and leave me sad for many months before hearing about Ravensoul)


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