Author: James Barclay
Nightchild is the third and final instalment for the Chronicles of The Raven by James Barclay. The Raven is a band of mercenaries, known in the world of Balaia for their fighting prowess and resourcefulness. The bonds forged among it members are stronger than blood ties and The Raven has never been defeated in battle. The members of the Raven have changed much since the first book, Dawnthief, and the main Raven characters in this book are Hirad Coldheart (the barbarian warrior), The Unknown Warrior, Ilkar (a Julatsan Mage), Denser (a Xetesk Mage) and Erienne (a Dordovan Mage).
Since the end of the previous book, Noonshade, The Raven has practically disbanded, with each of its member leading their separate lives. Hirad is now taking care of the Kaan dragons, Thraun - the shapechanger - has settled with his pack of wolves in the Thornwood forest, and The Unknown Warrior is raising a family of his own in the city of Korina.
Denser and Erienne got married and Erienne gave birth to a child named, Lyanna. The focus of this book is basically on Lyanna, where at the mere age of five, the power of the land has manifested itself in her. Lyanna's inability to control and channel the outpour of mana is creating havoc and is threatening to destroy Balaia itself.
The four colleges of magic (namely Julatsan, Dordovan, Lystern and Xetesk) are desperate to seek control of this child - each for their own reasons. Mages from Julatsan, Dordovan and Lystern would prefer to see Lyanna dead if they fail to control the power manifested in Lyanna.
The number of opposition against magic in Balaia is increasing and so is the danger to the child. Fleeing from these forces, Erienne and Lyanna found refuge with a group of powerful mages, called the Al-Drechar. However, these mages are very old and their resources are waning.
At the moment Denser realised that his family was in danger, he had no choice, but to seek the help from The Raven. Unable to resist the call from a member of The Raven in danger, The Unknown Warrior, Denser, Ilkar and Hirad once again came together to make the perilous journey - possibly their final - to secure the safety of Erienne and Lyanna.
Nightchild is brilliantly written and the pace of the story is faster than the previous books. Like many fantasy epics, Barclay weaves his tale around a band of friends working and fighting together for something they believed in, which in this case, simply to protect a member of their band. The ending is as expected and I can safely tell you that the destruction of Balaia was averted. But the cost to achieve this was definitely unexpected and the twist in the story left the author much room to continue his tale of The Raven.
The author has two new books out already, where they are called Elfsorrow and Shadowheart, under the new saga, Legends of The Raven. I've always liked long sagas in fantasy books, so this is indeed great news :)