the Little Red Reviewer

Jack of Ravens, by Mark Chadbourn – and a give away!

Posted on: March 23, 2012

Jack of Ravens  (Kingdom of the Serpent, book 1), by Mark Chadbourn

published in 2012 by Pyr books

where I got it: received advanced readers copy from Pyr











His memory shattered,  Jack Churchill (who goes by “Church”) wakes up in the middle of a fantasical battle.  Magically glowing sword in hand, he fells a giant, laughs at the nickname “Jack giantkiller”, and is sent by the local sorcerer on a spirit quest. Along with a few other villagers, Church learns he is a Brother of Dragons – a champion for existence. There must always be five Brothers and Sisters of the Dragon for existence to be victorious. Still, he can’t remember how he got there. All Jack remembers is that he is a man of our time, and he needs to get back to Ruth, the woman he loves.   When he is a approached by a few woman who promises him everything his heart desires, how could he say no?

(disclosure: This is my first Mark Chadbourn, but I believe it is linked to some other series/trilogies he has written? Let me know in the comments)

So starts Church’s adventures, whisked to the fey world, where all the creatures of our collective myths exist, and then to different time periods in Earth’s history, all on a mission as a Champion of Existence, all to stop the mysterious Army of Spiders.  His allies include Niamh, a Queen of the Fey courts;  Jerzy, a deformed and tortured jester; Will Swyfte, an infamous spy, and whatever mortals that can be awakened into their destinies of being brothers and sisters of the Dragon.

There is a war on, and it is between hope and despair, between existence and the end of all things.  What hope does Church have, if he can’t seem to ever catch up with the leader of the Army of Spiders, known only as The Libertarian? When you are fighting against despair itself, the enemy can and will be hiding anywhere. In this kind of fight, hope will only get you so far.

The Fey courts exist in the Unfixed Lands, so they can send Jack to any time period to chase the Spiders and awaken his mortal allies.  The Libertarian has the same powers, and seduces powerful leaders during pivotal moments in our history, sewing as much despair as possible in humanity’s future.

Jack of Ravens is an unbelievably fast paced book, at times to the point of being dizzyingly disorienting.  As soon as you are used to Jack being in one place and finding another brother or sister of the Dragon, he’s suddenly off to somewhen else. Other than Chadbourn’s incredibly and beautifully descriptive unfixed Fey lands, there isn’t much focus on world building when Jack is on Earth.

My favorite parts of Jack of Ravens was when Jack is in the Fey world. Known as the Golden Ones, the Fey are so comfortable in their isolation, that they don’t believe anything could ever threaten their existence. They refer to humans as Fragile Creatures, and laugh at our petty requests for assistance. Niamh, the Queen of the Court of the Soaring Spirit understands that this new threat to humanity will affect her people too. But can she rally the other courts? How can she convince them that their isolation and comfort has turned into rot and stagnation? That if they refuse to open their eyes, they will be destroyed too?   I adored Niamh. She is wonderfully un-human, and I loved watching her gain her humanity as she spent more time with mortals.

A few spoiler free thoughts about the end of the book – there are some time travel tricks that are brilliant to the point of bringing Tim Powers to mind, but there were also some scenes right near the end that for me were cringingly heavy handed.

Does Jack of Ravens sound like something you’d like?   I have a gently read ARC (non-finalized cover art, no art on the spine, a few internal typos, blurb on back may not match retail copies) that can be yours!  Simply leave a comment below, and I’ll enter you in the giveaway for this book.   The giveaway will close next Wednesday, March 28th at midnight, Eastern Time.  Giveaway is open to all residents of planet Earth, however if you live outside the United States, it might take a little longer for the book to reach you.


Edited to add:   This giveaway is now CLOSED, and the winner is:


congrats Tim, I’ll be contacting you soon!

10 Responses to "Jack of Ravens, by Mark Chadbourn – and a give away!"

I always love to read about fey! This sounds like a really mixed bag though! Like the different time periods idea – sounds like it has a lot of potential.

Lynn 😀


yes, mixed bag, but mostly cool.


The ultimate bad guy is called “Libertarian”? Hmmm, what kind of politics does this author espouse anyway?


I have no idea, but I’m guessing the name of that character isn’t in reference to politics.


That dude on the cover has a touch of the “Robert Pattinson’s” methinks!


I know, right? 😀


Fey, time travel, and you said Tim Powers. Count me in.


This seems pretty interesting – I like to read fey fantasy.


It is book one of a triology. It is also the begining of the final trilogy in a trilogy of trilogys that Chadbourn has done.


Hi Bradley, I was able to tweet back and forth with Chadbourn on twitter a little bit, and we got into a great discussion of the full impact of the “trilogy of trilogies”. I do wish I’d done better research before starting this book tho! the information from the publisher only said it was first in a trilogy, not that there were books that came before.


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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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