Jack of Ravens – Mark Chadbourn

Aboutthe book
A quest of epicreach spanning the globe under the mythologies of five great cultures – andfinally crossing the barrier between life and death. 

Jack Churchill, archaeologist and dreamer, walksout of the mist and into Celtic Britain more than two thousand years before hewas born, with no knowledge of how he got there. 

All Jack wants is to get home to his own timewhere the woman he loves waits for him. Finding his way to the timelessmystical Otherworld, the home of the gods, he plans to while away the days, theyears, the millennia, until his own era rolls around again … but nothing isever that simple. 

A great Evil waits in modern times and will doall in its power to stop Jack’s return. In a universe where time and space aremeaningless, its tendrils stretch back through the years … 

Through Roman times, the Elizabethan age,Victoria’s reign, the Second World War to the Swinging Sixties, the Evil setsits traps to destroy Jack. 

Mark Chadbourn gives us a high adventure ofdazzling sword fights, passionate romance and apocalyptic wars in the daysleading up to Ragnarok, the End-Times: a breathtaking, surreal vision oftwisting realities where nothing is quite what it seems.

414pages
Publishedon: (first) July 20, 2006, (now) March 27, 2012
Publishedby: Pyr
Author’swebpage
Thanksto Pyr for sending me a copy of this book to review.
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I’mone of those people who is a diehard fan of anything Celtic. All you reallyhave to do is say, “Hey, Sarah, this book is obviously inspired by Celticlore/legend/traditions/etc” and I’m there. So when Pyr emailed me about Jack of Ravens, and I saw “Celtic” inthe description I knew I had to read it. Seriously, that’s all it took. Yeah,I’m discerning like that. 
Jack of Ravens is a slow burn, and whilethat might aggravate some, it’s well worth it. Chadbourn doesn’t waste any ofhis words. In fact, his lyrical prose and descriptions are instrumental inwhisking the reader away to another time(s) and place(s) and what is, perhaps, more amazing than anything else is that all his times and places seems to shine and are crafted with equal care. He also uses the slow-ish start to Jack of Ravens to build impressive, yet subtle depth into his plot. Perhaps Chadbourn’smethod of telling his tale is another reason why this book is so reflective ofCeltic lore, for the tale itself spirals around and around taking the readerdown numerous rabbit holes, while keeping the central themes firmly in place.
Thetale at the core of Jack of Ravens isnothing new as it deals with lovers who are tragically torn apart by time and place.However, the telling of this tale is unique, and that’s where it thrives. Jack,otherwise known as “Church” is transported to Celtic Britain and, though he’s ina very different time than our modern world, his determination to get back tohis lost love never wavers, nor does his desire to find out exactly who he is and how he ended up where he ended up. It does take time for the book to really take off,but Chadbourn uses his slow start to firmly establish Church’s core desire toget back to his lover, as well as several main plot points which are importantto the rest of the book.
Jack of Ravens skips around quite a bitas Jack never really finds himself in one time or place for too long. Thisreally worked in the story’s favor, but there were several times I wishedChadbourn had kept his character in one time and place for a little longer so Icould get more attached to the characters, or learn more about the place inwhich the main character had found himself. Peppered throughout this book are some wonderfully wrought, and impressively numerous, characters that really add color and vibrancy to the book. In fact, Chadbourn’s carefully crafted times, places and characters impressed me as none of them felt anything less than carefully thought out and detailed. 
It’sobvious that disorientation is something that Chadbourn is after in Jack of Ravens, as he switches how he istelling his tale frequently from perspective, to past/present tense and sometimes conversations and events are hinted at or talked about rather than taking the reader through them. While this might frustrate some, it really addedto the frequent switches in time and place really cause the disorientation thatChadbourn was after. Though this may sound odd, Chadbourn really does it well and it adds to the general feeling of the book. For example, you can imagine how disoriented Church must feel time/place hopping, so Chadbourn tries to carry that feeling through to the reader. 
Thereare forces that Church and the companions he meets throughout his journey haveto face, but they aren’t the typical evil forces that one might find in afantasy novel. In fact, Church’s journey to discover his own identity as wellas find his way back to his beloved are almost as big an obstacle as the actualnegative forces standing in his way. This unique combined inner-and-outerjourney of the protagonist is very well balanced, and adds a really nice depthto the book.
Despitethe few issues that some readers might have with Jack of Ravens, it really is an incredibly well crafted book thatis filled with very descriptive and lyrical writing that seems tobring Church and his journey to life in the reader’s mind. While the centralstory of tragically separated lovers is nothing new, Chadbourn’s telling of itis. This is a welcome addition to my fantasy library, and a book Iwill easily read again and again. Thankfully, this is the first book in a trilogy, so my time with Church isn’t at an end. 
4/5stars
(I feel the need to brag. I wrote thisreview while my  7 month old child wasAWAKE! She didn’t even throw any fits the whole time. She just sat in her highchair and watched me. We have turned a new page, people! If things keep goingthis well, my reviews might hit 4-5 a week again!!)

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