James Barclay's novel Dawnthief is the first book in his Chronicles of the Raven trilogy. The storyline follows a very basic pattern common to most fantasy fiction. We're introduced to the “heroes” and they undertake a mission (or quest) even though some of them have misgivings about the mission and the employer. Along the way they lose some people and gain others. Distrust becomes trust as they all work together for the common good. Or do they?
What's different about Dawnthief is how Barclay follows fantasy fans expectations and adds some interesting twists. Dawnthief is a spell powerful enough to destroy the world. Our heroes must find the elements needed to cast the spell before an ancient foe awakes and plunges the world into war. There are three elements and each of them will require a different set of skills to obtain.
My one complaint with this book is that an interesting side story about a universe full of talking (and educated) dragons was introduced and then left alone. I'm hopeful that they will show up again in the other two books. If not I'm going to be rather disappointed. I realize that to get the story going the mage had to steal something from the dragon (isn't that always the way?) but if you aren't going to use him again why make him interesting? I'm just saying.
I will warn people that the body count in this book is quite high. I realize that certain people had to die in order to get someone else to go along with the mission. I still don't have to like it. Overall I liked this book. It's a classic fantasy story with some interesting twists and turns. I can't wait to read the next book.