Jack of Ravens (Kingdom of the Serpent, Book 1)
by Mark Chadbourn
Cover Artist: John Picacio
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Pyr Trade Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781616146078
Date: 27 March 2012 List Price $17.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Thrown back in time over two thousand years, Jack "Church" Churchill arrives in Celtic Britain without his memory. He must survive and find a way to make it back to Ruth, the woman he knows he loves. He learns early that someone opposes him, someone that knows him and what he did in the future.
Church learns a little of whom he is and what he must accomplish. He goes to Summerland where time is much different. He meets the Golden Ones that are the Gods to the Celts. The Golden ones think that they are eternal, but come to know that isn't true. Church also meets Jerzy, who will travel with him through the ages.
As Church moves through time, he has adventures while trying to stop those that want to change history. Although his actions lead to minor changes, there is still hope that the future can be saved. The mysterious Spiders are multiplying and threaten to take over everything and everyone.
Interspersed with these adventures in time, are scenes from Church's time. He sees people that he knew and worked with being lead into temptation to prevent them from being a threat. As his former companions begin to break free and reach their destiny, Church struggles to reach them.
This is the first book of a new series and is a good starting point. It is also a follow on to the Age of Misrule series. Not having read the earlier series I was still able to follow the story.
I really liked the basic premise of someone being thrown back in time and needing to find a way to return to the present. I was a little saddened that the series doesn't revolve around Church's struggle to get back to the present. That is just the kick off point. I would have enjoyed more time exploring and adventuring in the past.
I recently read Songs of the Earth by Elspeth Cooper which had some similar magical interactions. I enjoyed it more than this novel. That doesnít mean that this novel isnít worth reading, it just means I didnít connect as well with the characters. Part of the connection was lost because of the advanced reader copy (ARC) cover art, which is different from the hard cover. The hard cover art is much better than the ARCís and would have been less likely to throw me off. In addition, the story might be better for fans of the previous series.
I struggled with this review. I recognize that the novel is well written. The prose is smooth, and the story is well written, it just wasnít for me. I recognize my own bias, so people should check out the first chapter and make their own decision.