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The Raven Collection, страница 1

 

The Raven Collection
 


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The Raven Collection


  James

  Barclay

  The Raven

  Collection

  ‘Barclay writes with power, pace and a wonderful sense of humour. Better than that, he creates novels you want to read again and again’ David Gemmell

  ‘A greathearted book written on a grand scale. An enthralling novel: gritty, down-to-earth and delightful, invoking tears and laughter by turn. This is the best new fantasy I've read in years’ Maggie Furey

  ‘Majors on sheer energy and a fast, often frenetic, pace. Barclay writes with an assured gusto, has a great eye for action, and imbues his story with a fine imagination and jolts of wit. If ever there was a case of a plot acting like a man-trap this is it. Barclay brings a genuine aesthetic to the fantasy action novel’ Stan Nicholls

  ‘Truly excellent fantasy is rare. Truly excellent heroic fantasy is rarer still. Discovering a new author who writes truly excellent heroic fantasy is perhaps the rarest gem of all. James Barclay is such a find’ SFSite.com

  ‘The fantasy equivalent of The Magnificent Seven. A good fast read perfect for that legendary train journey, but more thoughtful than many novels in this area’ SFX

  ‘Quite simply, spectacular storytelling. One of the most exciting and exhilarating series in a long time’ Amazon.co.uk

  James Barclay is in his forties and lives in Teddington with his wife and son. He is a full-time writer.

  Also by James Barclay:

  Chronicles of The Raven

  NIGHTCHILD

  NOONSHADE

  Legends of The Raven

  ELFSORROW

  SHADOWHEART

  DEMONSTORM

  RAVENSOUL

  The Ascendants of Estorea

  CRY OF THE NEWBORN

  A SHOUT FOR THE DEAD

  Table of Contents

  Cover

  Title Page

  Praise for James Barclay

  About the Author

  Also by James Barclay

  Dawnthief

  Noonshade

  Nightchild

  Elfsorrow

  Shadowheart

  Demonstorm

  Ravensoul

  Copyright

  Table of Contents

  Cover

  Title Page

  Praise for James Barclay

  About the Author

  Also by James Barclay

  Dawnthief

  Cover

  Title Page

  Contents

  Dedication

  Cast List

  Map

  Prologue

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Chapter 30

  Chapter 31

  Chapter 32

  Chapter 33

  Noonshade

  Cover

  Title Page

  Contents

  Dedication

  Cast List

  Map

  Prologue

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Chapter 30

  Chapter 31

  Chapter 32

  Chapter 33

  Chapter 34

  Chapter 35

  Chapter 36

  Chapter 37

  Nightchild

  Cover

  Title Page

  Contents

  Dedication

  Cast List

  Map

  Prologue

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Chapter 30

  Chapter 31

  Chapter 32

  Chapter 33

  Chapter 34

  Chapter 35

  Chapter 36

  Chapter 37

  Chapter 38

  Chapter 39

  Chapter 40

  Elfsorrow

  Cover

  Title Page

  Contents

  Dedication

  Cast List

  Map

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Chapter 30

  Chapter 31

  Chapter 32

  Chapter 33

  Chapter 34

  Chapter 35

  Chapter 36

  Chapter 37

  Chapter 38

  Chapter 39

  Chapter 40

  Chapter 41

  Chapter 42

  Chapter 43

  Chapter 44

  Chapter 45

  Chapter 46

  Chapter 47

  Chapter 48

  Chapter 49

  Chapter 50

  Epilogue

  Shadowheart

  Cover

  Title Page

  Contents

  Dedication

  Cast List

  Map

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7


  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Chapter 30

  Chapter 31

  Chapter 32

  Chapter 33

  Chapter 34

  Chapter 35

  Chapter 36

  Chapter 37

  Chapter 38

  Chapter 39

  Chapter 40

  Chapter 41

  Chapter 42

  Chapter 43

  Chapter 44

  Acknowledgements

  Demonstorm

  Cover

  Title Page

  Contents

  Dedication

  Cast List

  Map

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Chapter 30

  Chapter 31

  Chapter 32

  Chapter 33

  Chapter 34

  Chapter 35

  Chapter 36

  Chapter 37

  Chapter 38

  Chapter 39

  Chapter 40

  Chapter 41

  Chapter 42

  Chapter 43

  Chapter 44

  Chapter 45

  Chapter 46

  Epilogue

  Acknowledgements

  Ravensoul

  Cover

  Title Page

  Contents

  Dedication

  Cast List

  Map

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Chapter 30

  Chapter 31

  Chapter 32

  Chapter 33

  Chapter 34

  Chapter 35

  Chapter 36

  Chapter 37

  Chapter 38

  Chapter 39

  Chapter 40

  Chapter 41

  Chapter 42

  Chapter 43

  Chapter 44

  Chapter 45

  Chapter 46

  Chapter 47

  Acknowledgements

  Copyright

  Table of Contents

  Cover

  Title Page

  Contents

  Dedication

  Cast List

  Map

  Prologue

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Chapter 30

  Chapter 31

  Chapter 32

  Chapter 33

  For Tara, who always believed

  when sometimes even I did not.

  Cast List

  Prologue

  The hand over her mouth stifled her screams as she awoke. Beside her in the bed, Alun was still. A face, shadowed by night, leaned into hers. She could make out his lean features and hard eyes. The hand pressed harder as her eyes bored into his.

  ‘If you cast, your boys will die. If you struggle, your boys will die. If you don’t co-operate, your boys will die. Your husband will remain as witness that we can take your kind from anywhere - even from the heart of a College City. Think on that while you sleep and curb your anger when you awake. We have a great deal to talk about.’

  The thoughts crashed through her mind in time with the hammering of her heart. Her foolish determination to live a quiet life outside of the security of the College walls had put in jeopardy everything she loved. The man had mentioned her boys, her beautiful twin sons in whom she had so much faith and nurtured such great power. So young, so innocent. Her body quailed as she fought against the thought of what men such as these might do. They had no compassion. They saw what they believed to be evil and had vowed to destroy it. They didn’t see the purity and the magic of what she was creating and their blindness made them so dangerous.

  Voices struck notes of caution in her mind. The Masters of the College, who had sympathised with her desire for family life but had warned against the complacency of comfort in times when people could be open in their animosity towards the College and all for which it stood. Hers was an experiment, the Masters had reminded her; it was not a simple desire to settle down. Her children were children of the College, they had said, and their development was critical research.

  But, as usual, she had had her way. After all, they were her sons and Alun had no wish to live in the College. She cursed herself for her stubborn stupidity and for her overconfidence in her ability to keep them all safe. Tears of frustration and anger welled up but they, like the voices of the Masters in her head, were echoes of warnings that were ignored too long and were heeded too late.

  The man’s other hand came across her vision. It was clutching a cloth which he pressed against her nose and mouth. The drug took swift effect and her struggle was that of an animal caught in a trap as the dogs close in. Futile, desperate, short. Brophane. The last thought through her mind was how ill she would feel when she opened her eyes.

  Chapter 1

  Blue light seared across the late afternoon sky, flaring against the broken low grey cloud and throwing the sheer opening of Taranspike Pass into sharp relief. A heavy explosion sounded. Men screamed.

  The Raven made a calm assessment of the situation, looking out from the castle which controlled the pass, across the courtyard and on to the battlefield from their vantage point high up on the keep.

  The left-hand end of the defensive line had been shattered. Bodies, burning and broken, were scattered across scorched grass and the enemy redoubled their e
fforts all along the battle front. They surged.

  ‘Damn it,’ said The Unknown Warrior. ‘Trouble.’ He raised a clenched fist above his head, spread his fingers then whirled his arm in a wide circle. Instantly, the flagmen in the turrets signalled the order. Five cavalrymen and a mage galloped out of a side gate.

  ‘There. Look.’ Hirad pointed towards the devastated line. Perhaps fifteen men were running through the gap, ignoring the battle as they rushed towards the castle walls. ‘Are we in?’ he asked.

  ‘We’re in,’ said The Unknown.

  ‘About time.’ Hirad smiled.

  ‘Raven!’ roared The Unknown. ‘Raven with me!’ He swept his two-handed sword from the scabbard leaning against the ramparts and charged over to the steps, chest plate catching the dying rays of the sun, his massive frame moving with a speed and agility that remained a fatal surprise to many and his shaven head bobbing on his bull neck as he started down at a dead run.

  The stairs led down from the ramparts along the inside of the wall before joining the roof of the keep. From there the way to the courtyard was through either one of the two turrets and down their spiral stairways.

  The Unknown led the six leather- and chain-clad warriors and one mage who made up The Raven to the left-hand turret, threw the door open, barked the guard aside and took the stairs two at a time, leaning into the outside wall to steady himself.

  Halfway down, a second, bigger explosion sounded, shaking the castle foundations.

  ‘They’re through the courtyard wall,’ said Hirad.

  ‘Almost there,’ said The Unknown. The door at the base of the turret was open and Hirad doubted whether The Unknown would have paused had it been closed, such was his speed. The Raven sprinted out into the waning amber sunlight and headed for the left-hand corner of the courtyard where dust from the explosion filled the air.

  From the fog of the dust, and picking their way through the rubble they’d created, came the enemy. The warriors, leather-armoured and cloth-masked, spread into the courtyard. Behind them, Hirad could see another making his way through the debris, seemingly at leisure. He too was wearing shining leather armour but also a black cloak that billowed behind him. A pipe smoked gently in his mouth and, if Hirad’s eyes didn’t deceive him, he was stroking a cat whose head poked out from the neck of the cloak.

  Behind him, he heard Ilkar, the elven mage from Julatsa, curse and spit: ‘Xetesk.’ Hirad paused in his stride and glanced back. Ilkar waved him on.

  ‘Get on and fight,’ said the elf, his tall, athletically slim frame tense, his flat-oval hazel eyes narrowed beneath short dark hair. ‘I’ll keep an eye on him.’

  The enemy fighting men began to move to The Raven’s left at an even pace, trotting towards the bare rock wall along the base of which grain, tool and firewood sheds ran from outer defences to keep.

 
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