Ravensoul is the last novel of The Legends of The Raven series by James Barclay. And it’s the most grandiose novel of them all, in a way, because The Raven are back. Even though they were pretty much killed off (except two) in Demonstorm. Barclay killed his and my darlings, but brought them back to life….so to speak.
The souls of the dead are inhabiting recent corpses all over Balaia and Calaius. And the recently deceased cannot find eternal rest. Because the Garonin, the ancient and monstrous enemy of the Elves, have reached the dimension of the dead. And through that dimension, they’ve found purchase on Balaia, Calaius and the dragon dimension. Denser, High Mage of Xetesk, and The Unknown Warrior now called by his real name Sol, find themselves in the middle of it all. Because The Raven – long or newly deceased – are back and claiming Sol is the one to rescue the humans, dragons and Elves by finding them a new home. The only problem is, he will have to die first. And Denser isn’t having any of that.
I was in turn ecstatic and worried when it was announced Barclay had one more Raven novel up his sleeve. And with good reason: The Raven had been horribly killed off – except for Denser and Sol – in the last book. And bringing back the dead is always tricky. But I had faith in the abilities of Barclay as a writer and he did not disappoint.
The coming back of members of The Raven felt right, especially because older members from the beginning of The Raven saga were there as well. Sirendor, Ras, Richmond and Ren. And later on in the book the two Protectors who fought with them, Aeb and Ark, joined them too. Some died again – though can you really die when you’re already dead? – and some stayed. Hirad, Darrick, Ilkar, Thraun and Erienne were back too and it felt like a joyous reunion. Well, except for the fact that they were all dead and Sol was about to die too.
I felt for Sol, warrior-turned-Protector-turned-warrior-turned-king. Here he is, living a relatively quiet life with his wife Diera and his two sons Jonas – now the Dragone for Sha Kaan- and young Hirad, when suddenly his old and dead friends start showing up, in different bodies. He has gotten used to being an innkeeper and has no love for fighting any more. But destiny just won’t let him be. And this time it’s even more different: because this time he’s not coming back. He has to die, to save his people from the Garonin.
The betrayal of his trust by Denser, who doesn’t believe it’s the actual Raven members who are back and who believes they want to take Balaia for themselves and have teamed up with the Garonin, was heartbreaking. Because Denser didn’t just betray Sol; he betrayed all of The Raven, one of whom is his wife. It’s not hard to imagine why he did it though. It is quite a ridiculous story, and running away to some new home that no one knows seems very far-fetched. Unfortunately it happened to be true. Still, he redeemed himself in the end, and I was really happy about that. He is Raven after all.
And the ending. Boy, the ending! It was so fitting, so ‘right’ that The Raven with the addition of Auum’s TaiGethen cell – former and present – and Ark chose to forgo eternal rest to be the guards of the door to their new world. Their new dimension. The Raven, together again (with all the bickering and sarcasm I’ve come to associate with the members) protecting the world for all eternity. That’s a beautiful way to end a great book. To end the journey of my favourite mercenary team ever.
100/10 (I know that’s not really possible, but that’s how it made me feel. It was just….I have no words to describe that feeling. I used them all in the ‘opinion’ section.)