Click here to return to the main site.

Book Review

Book Cover

Death's Dark Wings


Author: Raven Dane
Publisher: Telos Publishing
RRP: £12.99
ISBN: 978 1 84583 895 9
Publication Date: 25 March 2015

The year 1064 finds Britain a troubled isle. The mainly Christian Saxon nation finds itself beset on all sides. From across the seas the Normans wait patiently for King Edward to die so that they can claim the throne of England, something which is an anathema to the Saxon prince Harold. To the east, the Welsh, Cornish and Irish nations retain their pagan beliefs based on real deities, resisting the English demand that they should convert to the new religion. The rising tensions between the nations form a prelude to the coming war, with the Normans relying on their new technological weapons, the English their one true God and the Pictish nations on their own pantheon of deities. Unknown to all, but reported in many dreams, the soul of a great raven has broken the bonds between this reality and its own though few understand its meaning...

Death’s Dark Wings (2015. 266 pages) is a fantasy novel by Raven Dane, who successfully writes in number different crossover genres.

The book is split up by location, rather than individual characters, but within these locations Dane provides a primary voice through which we view the story.

In Ireland this is primarily provided by Brandan, the first character we meet, a wandering sell sword and Bard, who carries a magic harp which he stole from the queen of the fairies, when he escaped her realm. In Normandy the primary voice is split between Duke Guillaume, who plots to raise a mighty army backed with the best new technology and Hereward, a young nobleman sent by the English king to discover if the rumours of the Duke dabbling in the black arts are true.

In England we follow Edward, a pious King more interested in building cathedrals and contemplating his advancement to a heavenly station than he is with the succession to the throne, who is at odds with the more war-like Harold. In Wales we meet the blind seer Seren, destined to become the more powerful witch in the land, but when the book opens is troubled by visions of great destruction and a large black winged raven.

Although well written, I did find the book slow to get off the ground, Dane certainly loves the characters she created and so we spend a lot of time on how handsome the men are and the good looks of the women. We discover their individual sexual peccadilloes and character traits, but it felt like too much of the book is set aside for this aspect of the story, much of which did not forward the plot.

The book is very loosely based on the events which led up to the Norman invasion in 1066, a story which, in schools, is predominantly told from the English perspective. As well as adding in a layer of magic and technology which did not exist at the time, she has created a classic battle between old and new way of thought.

Overall, I felt that the weight given over to the characters unbalanced the book. It almost felt that the political machinations and fantasy elements which should have formed the central core were too lightly skipped over for interpersonal relationship details. That said, if you’re looking for a character driven narrative, this may well be attractive to you.


Charles Packer

Buy this item online

Each of the store links below opens in a new window, allowing you to compare the price of this product from various online stores.