In Brief: James Barclay’s Dawnthief features a band of mercenaries in sword-and-sorcery style adventure. The characters are hard men (and women), loyal to each other first, who find themselves drawn into a great conflict with darker forces in the land.
Pros: Barclay has a good command of military history, and his system of magic is consistent. A good sense of history, solid characters, and an eye for avoiding cliches make this a an effective first effort.
Cons: The beginning chapters are messy – perhaps due to a switching p.o.v. style that is somewhat troublesome. The logic behind the penultimate spell at the heart of the story is a little sketchy.
Review: Dawnthief introduces a band of mercenary soldiers known as the Raven. A small but intensely loyal group who earns their money fighting the small wars between the nobles of Balaia. Their code is simple: they don’t do assassinations and they always put the members of the Raven first.
We meet them marshaling the defense of a small castle outpost – a simple enough mission that goes sideways when a mage from the College of Xetesk called Denser appears. The mercenaries follow him in an attempt to stop him, losing one of their number in the process. They find themselves in an alternate dimension, where Hirad, one of their leaders, confronts an ancient guardian and inadvertently helps Denser steal an important magic talisman – one of the key components for the spell, Dawnthief. Continue reading