Review: Elves series by James Barclay










The Elves series by James Barclay is comprised of the following three books:

  • Once Walked With Gods
  • Rise of the TaiGethen
  • Beyond the Mists of Katura

These books are prequels to The Chronicles of The Raven and the Legends of The Raven series that I’ve come to know and love. I didn’t know what expect from the Elves series, mainly because the Elven nation and their beliefs only came into play around Barclay’s Elfsorrow, but I surely wasn’t expecting this.


The Elves have been living peacefully on Calaius ever since they’ve escaped the murderous hands of the Garonin many centuries ago in their previous dimension. But underneath the peace and harmony, dissent is growing between the various threads. All hell breaks loose after the Ynissul – the only thread blessed with real immortality – decides to invite humans from Balaia over to help them gain control over the other threads and put them once again in a place of power, which some consider their rightful place. Unfortunately the humans have other plans.

In what becomes a fight for their lives against the humans and those mages Barclay fans will recognize as the Wesmen’s Wytch Lords of old, and which spills over from Calaius to Balaia when the four newly-emerged Colleges fight amongst themselves for the destructive spell Dawnthief, two heroes emerge. Takaar, the one who saved the Elves from the invading Garonin and Father of the Harmony, whose mind has gone, driving him to madness but also opening him up to the beckoning of magic. And Auum, Arch of the TaiGethen, who will face everything with the quickness of his mind and the sureness of his limbs.


Oh my God. Oh my God. When I started the Elves series I had no idea how many feelings these books would elicit from me. Curiosity, anger, sadness, merriment, astonishment and a deep sense of being pulled in deeper and deeper into what it means to be an Elf.

I was pleasantly surprised by the appearance of Auum and him having such a big role to play, mainly because the TaiGethen and their battle skills had already enchanted me when he appeared in the Raven books. Evunn and Duele emerge in the third book, though they are not yet part of his cell. Though he has them pegged to make up his cell by the end of the book and it’s nice to see their dynamic – especially because they are much younger than he is. His foray into love and then having his love taken away from him, not but humans but by other Elves, it just broke my heart to see Auum like that. It certainly upped my esteem for him and the things he did for the Raven, considering his brushes with humans.

Takaar also was an interesting character and his derailment into madness after having to leave thousands of Elves behind to get slaughtered by the Garonin before landing on Calaius was both very entertaining and very painful. He speaks to someone he calls his tormentor, which is actually just himself, leading him to have many conversations with his other self in front of others. His guilt and his pain prevent him from forgiving himself, only pushing him to somehow redeeming himself in the eyes of the other Elves and his tormentor. He is the forefather of Elven magic, also named Il-Aryn which is basically the One magic we see in Nightchild. But his natural curiosity and his enormous ego hold him back from his true purpose and his dislike of Auum fuels some very bad decisions.

The four practitioners of the One magic we see in the Raven books, also appear in the last book which made me very happy. I only got to know them as old Elves close to death and now I got to see at least one of them as a young woman – maybe even a girl because it’s never stated how young they were – and beginning to understand the Il-Aryn. Kerela’s ascension to High Mage was great to witness as well.

Overall this series is a great addition to the ‘lore’ of Balaia and Calaius and shows exactly how certain events occurred which were only hinted at in the Raven series. It also shows me that Ilkar wasn’t the only Elf with a great sense of humour. It also gives a broader scope when it comes to the beginnings of the Colleges and the evil that is Xetesk. I’m pretty sure only a few good people ever came from Xetesk.

Learning about how the TaiGethen evolved, how the Clawbound were born, the Al-Arynaar’s status as police, that there were other kinds of warriors – namely the Senserii – in the Elven world was so very thrilling. I hope James Barclay will write a novel about the very first fight with the Garonin and explain more about those enemies as well.

James Barclay has created another three masterpieces and I’m glad I’ve read them even though I’ve shed a great amount of tears for the fallen.


10/10 hands down!


2 thoughts on “Review: Elves series by James Barclay

  1. This book is, from one way of looking at it, one extended running fight scene. Auum leads his TaiGethen in attempting to halt the oncoming mass of humans, and much blood is spilled; elf and man alike. But there are many more men than there are elves, and each elvish life is precious. You can feel the pressure building as the pages turn. Each step the humans take is a step closer to elvish extermination. The losses are catastrophic, bloody, and at times utterly heart wrenching. I mentioned on Twitter halfway through this book that Barclay has made me cry more than any author out there. Same goes for this book. I am inherently devoted to the elves, their lives and their way of life, and whenever something goes wrong for them, I hurt.


    • In a way that is true about it being one extended running fight scene. I wouldn’t say Barclay is the author that elicited most tears from me – that honour goes to Erikson – but he’s certainly second.


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