James Barclay: Beyond the Mists of Katura (Review)

The Author

jame barclay

James Barclay was born in 1965 and is the most successful UK fantasy writer of his generation. He still works in the City of London as a advertising manager for a leading investment house.

Click this link to learn more about James Barclay and visit his web site

Book Description

Beyond the Mists of Katura (2013)
(The third book in the Elves series)

Elves

Thousands of years ago the elves were enslaved by the Wytch Lords.

Murdered in their thousands, worked to death in slave gangs and divided against themselves, the wounds inflicted by man run deep – and elves have very long memories.

Two of them – Auum and Takaar – led the rise against their enslavers, and united their people against men in order to free their nation.

Now Calaius is at peace …but that doesn’t mean their nation is safe. Men need their help.

The Wytch Lords have rallied, men’s magic has grown more powerful, and their politics have become altogether more dangerous.

Especially now: one of the mages has created a spell, called Dawnthief, which has the potential to destroy all living things on the planet. All four magical colleges are fighting to seize it and, in the background, the Lords have schemes of their own. Schemes which involve crushing the elven nation for good.
Whoever seizes the spell, it places the elves in tremendous danger. But can Auum and Takaar overcome their differences and work together to save Calaius?
 And even if they can, is it not already too late …?

Review

I have been a fan of James Barclays work since 1999 when Dawnthief first hit the book shelves. His style so reminiscent of my then favourite author David Gemmell. The characters flawed but heroic, larger than life yet down to earth. The action fast and furious and the body count high. And yet despite that there has been something that has niggled at me since Once walked with Gods, a feeling that he had strayed from his earlier writing prowess.

With Beyond the Mists of Katura I think I have finally nailed the problem, The characters are still great, the writing fast yet sparse where needed and powerful and emotional where required. The plot pushes ahead at a furious pace and the body count leaves me wondering if there will be anyone left alive.

The niggle i fnally figured out is with the Elves themselves, whilst they are not unbeatable, despite their near immortality and their legendary fighting prowess. Its the constant description of an elf in fighting mode, there are only so many times you need to read about what part of what hand or foot or throwing knife did what damage. The action is too intimate, it needs to be pulled back to the broader picture sometimes, and have more of the emotional depth of the scenes at the end. The finale with Auum is simply excellent. Takaar is also such an excellent character, so flawed so damaged by his long life and so dangerous no one can predict his next action, perfect fodder for a great story. The book brings the whole series plot full circle back to Dawnthief, and ends the cycle. I think this is a good thing, I’d like to see James break away again as his did with the blooming excellent Ascendants of Estorea.

Would I recommend?

Yes to all existing fans of James Barclay, for newbies, i think you need to start at the beginning, I would have been a little lost and overcome by the battles if not for the back story.

overall a 4/5 for the end of a series

(Parm)

Other titles

Chronicles of the Raven
1. Dawnthief (1999)
2. Noonshade (2000)
3. Nightchild (2001)
The Raven Collection (omnibus) (2011)
DawnthiefNoonshadeNightchildThe Raven Collection
Legends of the Raven
1. Elfsorrow (2002)
2. Shadowheart (2003)
3. Demonstorm (2004)
4. Ravensoul (2008)
ElfsorrowShadowheartDemonstormRavensoul
Ascendants of Estorea
1. The Cry of the Newborn (2005)
2. Shout for the Dead (2007)
The Cry of the NewbornShout for the Dead
Elves
1. Once Walked With Gods (2010)
2. Rise of the TaiGethan (2012)
3. Beyond the Mists of Katura (2013)
Once Walked With GodsRise of the TaiGethanBeyond the Mists of Katura
Novels
Vault of Deeds (2008)
Vault of Deeds
Chapbooks
Light Stealer (2003)
Light Stealer
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