on April 23, 2004
Maybe my expectations were too high--I read the reviews and thought the book was going to be fantastic, especially since I love corvidae (the crow/raven family) so much. The story strikes me as being oddly undeveloped, though--like it's an early draft and the editor has not made suggestions yet.
For a book about ravens, Raven's End is surprisingly humancentric. The author wants us to stop and think about humanity so badly that he falls into heavy-handedness. I find it hard to believe that ravens would give as much thought to humans as these ravens clearly do--they ponder the causes of roadkill, garbage disposal, differences in the treatment of birds in and out of protected areas, and other results of human life. The ravens themselves show an unlikely number of similarities to humans--they have mayors (Main Ravens), drugs (Magic Meat), murder/cannibalism, bullying, religion/a sort of cult, and any number of other human afflictions. I will admit that the cannibalism and bullying could occur in raven societies, but the other societal problems strike me as being purely human.
Even the non-human aspects of the ravens frequently seem far-fetched. Why would all ravens use their genus/species name/initials for a last name? Humans don't call themselves "Steve H. S." or "Jenny Homo sapiens." For that matter, would ravens give themselves species names?
My last problem with the book is that it starts off so slowly. I was riveted by the end--possibly because it took so long for me to work through the first part of the book that I just had to see that it really did reach a conclusion.
All that said, there are some good aspects of Raven's End. Character development occurs; there is a plot; we do see many aspects of life away from humans. In some ways, the book reminds me of Felix Salten's Bambi.
The author clearly knows and cares about the geographical area where the story occurs. I could stand a little more description of the landscape--sometimes it seems like Ben Gadd thinks the location is a given. There was one part where a location was kept from the reader, and it reminded me of how authors used to give the first letter only of a town they featured in a novel; I was a little amused by that, and it made me think that the author had a specific location in mind but wanted to protect it from all of us. I admire his loyalty to the land.
I really liked what Gadd did with the lynx storyline in the book--that was one of the highlights. A lot of the minor characters were neither ravens nor humans, and they were interesting and entertaining.
Not many authors these days publish novels of this type, and it's refreshing to see something written from a different point of view once in a while. Kudos to the author for wanting us to see through the eyes of a raven.
Overall, I'm glad I read the book; I have kept thinking about it since I finished it. I'm not sure whether or not I will read it again, though.
on January 21, 2002
As wierd as it may sound, the characters in this book are very human, in an animal sort of way. They are very real, almost like people I actually know. and I really liked the spiritual aspect of it.
This story is partly based on the climbing experience of my father, who is the character Ted in the book. It was interesting for me to read because I knew that the accident had to be in there somewhere, but I wasn't sure how it fit in to the story. It was a neat moment when I knew for sure who Colin was.
Definately one of the better books I've read.
on May 18, 2001
A beautiful blend of natural history and fantasy. Gadd takes the fascinating natural history of ravens and the Canadian Rockies and weaves them into a tremendous tale of adventure, discovery, mystery and magic. This is a wonderful book for readers of all ages. A real treat - I hope a sequel is not far off!
P.S. Don't start reading this before bed if you have to get up early!