Elves Once Walked With Gods by James Barclay — book review

Elves Once Walked With Gods. Elves Book 1(Raven Series prequel) by James Barclay. Gollancz ‘8.99

Reviewed by Lorna Smithers

Elves live by a caste system based on the longevity of life and social function created and defended by Takaar, the elf who once walked with gods. Following Takaar’s flight from battle ten years previously, that harmonious society, like the mind of its leader, is falling apart.

This book forms a harrowing portrayal of their descent into a vortex of violence, hatred and betrayal. From the moment the pages open a striking dissonance is played out between their reverence for the rain forest, traditions and gods and the brutalities they inflict upon one another and are imposed on them by men. 

Being unfamiliar with the Raven Series, I found Elves slightly confusing due to the lack of exposition and explanation. From the outset the reader is pitched full throttle into the relentless throes of the action giving little time to catch up. The plot is swift moving and permeated by intrigue, shifting rapidly from conflicts and crises, and undoing the reader’s expectations throughout. The imagery and choreography of the battle scenes excels in forming a vivid depiction of the swift savagery of the distinctive elvish fighting style.

Overall this book forms a unique and powerful re-imagining of the Elven race.

Elves Once Walked With Gods. Elves Book 1(Raven Series prequel) by James Barclay. Gollancz ‘8.99

Reviewed by Lorna Smithers

Elves live by a caste system based on the longevity of life and social function created and defended by Takaar, the elf who once walked with gods. Following Takaar’s flight from battle ten years previously, that harmonious society, like the mind of its leader, is falling apart.

This book forms a harrowing portrayal of their descent into a vortex of violence, hatred and betrayal. From the moment the pages open a striking dissonance is played out between their reverence for the rain forest, traditions and gods and the brutalities they inflict upon one another and are imposed on them by men. 

Being unfamiliar with the Raven Series, I found Elves slightly confusing due to the lack of exposition and explanation. From the outset the reader is pitched full throttle into the relentless throes of the action giving little time to catch up. The plot is swift moving and permeated by intrigue, shifting rapidly from conflicts and crises, and undoing the reader’s expectations throughout. The imagery and choreography of the battle scenes excels in forming a vivid depiction of the swift savagery of the distinctive elvish fighting style.

Overall this book forms a unique and powerful re-imagining of the Elven race.