Sunday, February 21, 2010

Review - Demonstorm

by James Barclay
Gollancz, 2008
copy provided by the son of my son's grandfather

ISBN-13: 978-0-575-08276-2

I was very excited to get through Demonstorm. The setting and characters are all familiar to readers of Barclay’s Raven series. The story was the best yet.

My Summary: Xetesk has perpetrated the unpardonable by implementing their ‘nuclear option.’ Unfortunately for Xetesk, and everyone else in their dimension, the dragon dimension of Beshara and the dimension inhabited by the peacefully resting dead, it backfires. Badly. Colleges of magic come under constant siege. The remaining population of eastern Balaia is ranched by the invaders. The Raven, and friends, devise a strategy to defeat this enemy. A strategy that involves the highest sacrifice.

My Take: The Raven discover that all of life, as they are aware of it, faces two possible outcomes: 1) victory and survival or, 2) defeat, followed by enslavement and extinction. The enemy involved in this fight unites every faction, as they each face their collective end. It’s barely enough.

The body count from Demonstorm dwarfs every previous book in the series. The population of Balaia, after the previous 10-15 years worth of struggle and war, has got to have been dramatically reduced. In this book alone, the four colleges of magic are reduced to tatters. One college, it is revealed halfway through the book, has only four mages remaining!

The ending of the book doesn’t spare the reader, or the characters involved. The last couple of chapters could have fleshed out the ending for more effect, however. The story sort of slid through the trauma suffered by those few that survived. The story has a natural ending, but does leave the door somewhat ajar for Balaia to be revisited.

For what it’s worth, over the past three books in the Raven, Barclay has displayed a strong ability to end a story, with enough of a future to unfold to revisit the realm. Barclay has managed to revisit Balaia, thus far, without resorting to flimsy or unbelievable storylines.

Verdict: Highly Recommended

Next: I still have Ravensoul and Lightstealer to read, but I’m moving off to something else. I have an author I want to read who hasn’t had a lot of discussion in areas I search for recommendations. I had one recommendation for her, bought the trilogy, and haven’t seen a lot since. So, I’m moving on to Conqueror’s Moon by Julian May.


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