Monday, June 6, 2011

The Ravens of Falkenau and Other Stories - Jo Graham

The Ravens of Falkenau And Other Stories
Jo Graham
Crossroads Press (Kindle Edition)
Copyright: May 21, 2011

The amazon.com product description:
The world is a numinous place, for those who have eyes to see it.

Welcome to the Numinous World, where gods and angels intervene in the lives of mortals, and a band of eternal companions unite and reunite over the centuries, striving to make the world a better place despite wars and dark ages, hatred and cruelty.
Here are stories from the very beginning of our history, when the Lady of Cats entered the life of a young woman and changed her forever, long ago when farmers first scraped a living from the soil. Here too are stories of the ancient world — of Dion, the peerless scientist of Alexandria, of Lucia, a Roman waif, of a Persian princess and her Jewish sister in law, of Lydias of Miletus who is once and always Ptolemy's man, and of a Nubian girl who begins a long journey toward a strange destiny.
There are stories of the Dark Ages, of a last Roman outpost on the shores of Britain and of an Arab warrior who at last comes home to a white city on the sea, of a Scottish witch who serves the Storm Queen and fears no other magic, and a Knight Templar enslaved by the beauty of the world. Others follow — a messenger boy dragged into the Great Story and a desperate ride dogged by the Wild Hunt, and a mercenary captain of the Thirty Years War who finds his destiny in a remote corner of the Bohemian mountains.
Here too are more modern tales of the Age of Revolution, when Dion, Emrys, Sigismund and Charmian reunite in Napoleonic Paris, and at last we roll into the twentieth century with a young American girl with extraordinary oracular powers. Of course there is also Michael, Mik-el, Mikhael, who watches over his charges as best he may, though the world may change around them.
These are tiny windows into a miraculous world, glimpses through a glass and darkly of all that might be — for those with eyes to see.

Table of Contents

The Ravens of Falkenau 1614 AD
Dion Ex Machina 4 BC
Cold Frontier 505 AD
Small Victories 1800 AD
How the Lady of Cats Came to Nagada 8000 BC
Prince Over the Water 1040 AD
Horus Indwelling 285 BC
Paradise 641 AD
Slave of the World 1203 AD
Little Cat 1012 BC
Vesuvius 79 AD
Unfinished Business 22 BC
The Messenger's Tale 1553 AD
Morning Star 469 BC
Templar Treasure 1188 AD
Winter's Child 1821 AD
Brunnhilde in the Fire 1901 AD

The Ravens of Falkenau and Other Stories is a book I've been looking forward to since I first heard about it on Jo Graham's LiveJournal a few months ago. At this point in time at least, it seems to be available only as an e-book.

This book is part of the same world as Black Ships, Stealing Fire and Hand of Isis, a world I'm hearing is due to get another book next year. As such, although the characters in most of the stories are all different, they are all also the same, being reincarnations of Gull/Charmian/Lydias.

One of the best parts of this was seeing how all the parts fit together - each of the stories is dated and given a little explanation of how it fits into the overall world, which is one of my favourite parts, seeing how each is a piece of the larger story. Sometimes those explanations also highlight how Gull/Charmian's character has changed through the ages since Hand of Isis.

Another little thing about this book which I loved was the quote Jo Graham used to open it, from J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings: "Don't the great tales never end?...But the people in them come, and go when their part's ended." (The Two Towers). It's such an appropriate thought for the world that Jo Graham has created. After all, that's exactly what Gull/Charmian does. And, of course, J.R.R. Tolkien is one of my favourite authors, which adds an extra layer of appreciation.

There are even one or two stories with the recognized main or secondary characters from the already published books: Horus Indwelling with Lydias and Dion Ex Machina with Dion from Hand of Isis. The familiarity of these is refreshing.

Of course, with any book of short stories, there's going to be one or two favourites. Aside from the already mentioned story of Lydias, I'd have to say that my favourites are: How the Lady of Cats Came To Nagda, Little Cat, and the two stories about the Knights Templar. I'm a bit of a sucker for cat stories, and I find the Templars intriguing in general. I'd love to see more stories set in these eras.

Definitely a must-read book for the fans of Jo Graham's other books. A wonderful collection, which illuminates so many aspects of this world a little more - some of them are even hinted at in the previously existing books! I know I'm going to be re-reading The Ravens of Falkenau and Other Stories again in the future.
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