Review: Jack of Ravens by Mark Chadbourn

Jack of RavensTitle: Jack of Ravens
Author: Mark Chadbourn
Publisher: Gollancz
Published: 6 December 2007
Price: £7.99
Review Copy

Jack of Ravens continues Mark Chadbourn’s exploration of myth, archetypes and human nature. He does a lot more besides that but these are the backbone of the cycles of books that started with World’s End. Jack of Ravens starts with return of Jack Church who disappeared (or died depending on your point of view) at the end of the Age of Misrule trilogy and who was brought back following the events at the end of The Dark Age cycle.

Chadbourn has definitely taken the long view when it comes to this series. As one book builds on the next and each cycle seems to come to end only for something greater or deeper or darker is then revealed.

In Jack of Ravens Chadbourn changes tack again in his exploration of the Fixed Lands (here), the Fragile Creatures (us) and the Tuatha Dé Danann (old celtic gods who influence our lives but in this book there is hint that the world also has gods from other denominations) But instead of confining himself to the near future and the ancient sites of Britain of previous books instead Chadbourn takes us through time and across continents as Jack Church tries to stop the darkness that has altered history to make its plans work.

The best part of each book is that as the reader gets more exposed to the world that Chadbourn has created the more he changes the rules. Here he gathers again the heroes and some villains of past books but they are changed and how they act and react is different as the events that have shaped them previously has changed.

I could go on about the layers that have been built into this series and the connections that are pulled, rewired, crossed and severed as the story is told but that would spoil it. The nature and effect of experience is a major theme.

There is one slight problem with Chadbourn’s storytelling is that it relies on the reader putting things together.Lots is left unexplained but makes a lot of sense if you consider what has gone on before. But in the case of this book if you haven’t read The Dark Age and ideally the Age of Misrule you may lack the knowledge to care about Jack’s journey through 2,300 of history.

Which would be a great shame as Jack of Ravens gave me several ooo and ahh moments as I realised how events were playing out. Chadbourn also has a wonderful imagination. The characters and places of the Far (Faery) Lands are as tangible as they are fanciful.

Overall, Mark Chadbourn has again proved himself an amazing and imaginative story-weaver (he’s laid so many threads) that kept me breathless from beginning to end. I can’t imagine what he has planned for The Burning Man but I can’t wait to find out.



Here are links two reviews of books two and three of The Dark Age cycle.

And an overview of the series so far by me is here.

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