“SOLID, ENTERTAINING FANTASY SET IN A METICULOUSLY CRAFTED WORLD CREATED BY A MASTER STORYTELLER.”
“[RAVENHEART] could nestle cozily next to Sir Walter Scott’s Rob Roy or The Lady of the Lake. . . . [It] will thrill Gemmell’s current fans and bring more readers into his fold with this tale of heroes and villains who are larger than life, yet still painfully human.”
The Barnes & Noble Review
It has been 800 years since we last visited the Rigante, and a great deal has occurred during that time. For those of you not familiar with Gemmell's series, Ravenheart is the third volume in the tale of the Rigante people. And although each novel is a stand-alone story, I highly recommend reading the first two volumes as well: Sword in the Storm and 0345432363. The plotlines are not connected with this tale, but knowing the history of the people that inhabit this world will truly add to your enjoyment.
In Ravenheart, we find the Rigante people to be a subjugated race. The Varlish have long since defeated them in battle and now rule the land. The Rigante's spirit has been broken, and they are trying to eke out an existence with some semblance of dignity. This is where Gemmell shines. He does not miss one sad, oppressive detail. The Rigante are second-class citizens in their own land. Forced to live in near enslavement, they are not allowed to wear their colors or hoist their flag. They are not allowed to learn swordsmanship or ride horses. They are not allowed to own a Varlish business. And on top of that, as we all know, the victor rewrites history. Rigante and Varlish history have been twisted so much that the greatest hero in Rigante history, Connavar, is now believed to have been Varlish! All of these points are so wonderfully illustrated and so necessary to paint a realistic picture of a captured nation. I physically felt the weight of injustice that was bearing down on the Rigante, as they futilely tried to earn decent livings, raise families, and somehow find happiness in the hellish conditions.
Gemmell's skill, however, is not just in drawing this elaborate portrait of a nation, but in creating multi-dimensional characters that power the story. Take, for example, the evolution of Alterith Shaddler, a Varlish schoolteacher. At the beginning of the novel, he is portrayed as a rigid, closed-minded nationalist. His interactions with the young Rigante hero Kaelin Ring shows the sheer stubbornness a person who supposedly knows everything can possess. But he does change, albeit slowly. Deep-rooted Varlish beliefs in education and the law compel him to look more closely at what he is teaching, at what is supposed to be the truth. Though he never wavers from his own cultural pride, he comes to respect the Rigante's heritage and sees shamefulness in his people's current actions. Shaddler's growth is one of the most compelling reasons to read this novel.
The Varlish think the Rigante's spirit is long broken, but they're wrong. The Black Rigante are a northern tribe that holds true to the old customs and ways. Kaelin Ring is the son of a murdered chieftain, and the blood of the Rigante runs true in him. Ring is a classic hero in the tradition of Connavar and Bane. His hatred of the Varlish leads him north to the Black Rigante. There he will begin to fulfill his destiny. (Lisa Echenthal)
Gemmell's third episode of The Rigante series reveals the highlanders as oppressed people living under the harsh rule of the Varlish Moidart and his soldiers. The hate and distrust between the two groups goes back more than eight hundred years to when the Riganteled by their legendary hero, Connavar, and his son, Banefought off the invading Varlish. Since that time, the Varlish army has conquered and suppressed the highlanders, forbidding them to own weapons and wear clan colors. Some of the Rigante fled to the hills, living as outlaws known as the Black Rigante. Jaim Grymauch, a fearless, eye-patch-wearing highlander, mentors the young Kaelin Ring, the Ravenheart. Under his tutelage, Kaelin grows into a fine fighter and loyal clansman. Maev Ring, Kaelin's aunt and the object of Jaim's unrequited love, cares for him after the Varlish soldiers kill his mother. Several murders and betrayals precipitate fifteen-year-old Kaelin's leaving home to hide out among the Black Rigante, where he finds true love and danger. A climaxing battle between the two factions force Kaelin and Jaim into a life-and-death struggle for freedom. Gemmel's story is more a rousing adventure saga, paralleling the conflicts of the Scottish and the English, than a fantasy tale with magic or special powers. Only one character, the Wyrd of Wishing Tree Wood, a soothsayer, has the ability to materialize and tell the future. Engrossing action and fluid dialogue keep the reader intrigued. Some story lines are incomplete, leaving the reader anxiously waiting for the next installment. VOYA CODES:4Q 2P J S A/YA (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses;For the YA with a special interest in thesubject;Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9;Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12;Adult and Young Adult). 2001, Del Rey, 404p, $24.95. Ages 12 to Adult. Reviewer:Brenda Moses-AllenVOYA, December 2001 (Vol. 24, No. 5)
In a world ruled by Varlish conquerors, the highlanders of the Rigante clan live for the day when they can reclaim their rightful lands. Kaelin Ring, the son of a dead Rigante hero, struggles to live up to his destiny, led by the spirit and example of a living Rigante warrior. Gemmel's "Rigante" series (The Sword in the Storm, Midnight Falcon) creates a fantasy world with Celtic overtones in which to explore the lives and fortunes of a people engaged in a battle for freedom and honor. A good choice for fantasy collections. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Adult/High School-Kaelin Ring (Ravenheart) is growing up in a society torn by hatred. The proud Rigante are subjugated by the equally proud Varlish, and neither group sees much of value in the other. A series of atrocities, graphically but not gratuitously described, sharpen Kaelin Ring's hatred. He kills two Varlish soldiers who are about to escape justice for raping a young Varlish woman who dared to associate with him. The scenario will be familiar enough to anyone who sees the news reports of ethnic strife around the globe. In Gemmell's hands, the tale evolves into something more complex, and members of each group slowly recognize the nobility present in members of the other, and come to terms with some of their own weaknesses. Kaelin's awkward relationship with a young woman he desires, Chara Jace, adds to the cauldron of emotions. Gemmell gives readers heroes with deep flaws and antagonists with surprising moments of virtue, as well as a few entertainingly black-hearted villains. The frequently bloody action is interspersed with epiphanies about the value of human life, and Kaelin's experiences are balanced with those of a Varlish boy, Gaise Macon, aka Stormrider. (A sequel to Ravenheart, Stormrider is due out in February, 2002.) This fast-moving book will appeal to fans of action and adventure. The book uses material from The Sword in the Storm and Midnight Falcon (both Ballantine, 2001) for background, but since those books were set 800 years earlier, this one doesn't seem at all like a sequel.-Paul Brink, Fairfax County Public Library System, VA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.