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The Ruins of Ambrai (Exiles #1)

4.04  ·  Rating Details  ·  7,303 Ratings  ·  155 Reviews
The isolated world of Lenfell seemed the perfect refuge for the Mageborn--a people persecuted for their magic powers. But the greater the magic, the greater the peril--and Lenfell was soon devastated by a war between rival Mage factions. Now, long after the war, three Mageborn sisters will find themselves on opposing sides in this world-shattering conflict. HC: Daw.
Hardcover, 480 pages
Published November 1st 1994 by DAW (first published 1994)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Apr 15, 2015 Jessica rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This just popped up on my timeline and I thought, Ye gods, THAT book! Wow, I haven't thought about that book in ages! What a STINKER.

I've never read any of Melanie Rawn's other solo books, but I did thoroughly enjoy The Golden Key, which she co-wrote with two other authors. So I picked up this one in 1994, right after it came out, and I did not enjoy it. Here are two reasons why I give this book one star, and why I still own The Golden Key, but took The Ruins of Ambrai to the first paperback exc
May 21, 2012 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book, but I would recommend against picking it up. If you read this and the sequel, the story draws you in and leaves you wanting to know what happens next, along with a bit of what happened in the past as some of the backstory has not yet been revealed. But the third book in the series is MIA, and has been for decades. It may come out one day, it may not. However, my feeling is that reading something that leaves you this hungry for more is just an exercise in futility until that on ...more
Heather Douglas
Oct 13, 2012 Heather Douglas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This has to be my ultimate favorite book. Not 'one of my favorites' but THE favorite book of my collection. There are so many things that I love about this series.

First, I love how the author tells the story. Specifically, how she spends chapters describing the journey/events of one character's life, and then goes back in time and describes those same events from the perspective of another, opposing character. It's such a neat way to give the reader an understanding of what happens and why thing
Dec 07, 2008 Lauren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In 7th or 8th grade around the holidays my English teacher passed out journals as gifts (she was really sweet like that). Mine had the cover art from The Ruins of Ambrai on it (could that lady spot a nerd, or what?!), and eventually, a year or two later, I got around to actually reading the book.

Guilty pleasure? Maybe, but the pleasure certainly outweighs the guilt in this case. This is one of those books I go back to as "comfort food" when I need to take a break from school-related reading and
Dev Null
May 26, 2009 Dev Null rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who need to light a fire, and have a por sense of smell
Shelves: epic-fantasy, fantasy
Yarg! Reminds me of Celia Dart Thornton and her unending dictionary descriptions of irrelevant rooms, only here it seems to be pocket 1-dimensional sketches of completely irrelevant characters. I swear I've been introduced to 200+ characters by name, almost none of whom I remember or care about because they're mostly walking stereotypes anyways. In fact, I was remarking on this very fact to myself just before reading the following line from the book:

"Veller Granfallin, for instance, figured as a
Kate Lansky
Jul 29, 2011 Kate Lansky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yes, this is a thick book. Rawn's books tend to be. But please don't be put off by how much space this sucker takes up among your paperbacks! It's a fabulous book: witty, imaginative, and intricate, with completely unique characters at every turn. Rawn's societies are amazingly detailed, completely thought out and thoroughly planned. Most of her books include a fair amount of politics as well as a ridiculously large number of characters - this book is no exception. I admit, I had trouble keeping ...more
Josephine McNabb
Jun 02, 2015 Josephine McNabb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book when I was around fourteen and I'm not sure what possessed me to read it again but I did. When I was fourteen I really enjoyed this book. It was the first book in the genre that I had read and it was wonderful.

As an adult, I loved it even more. I understood the connections better, the need for the rising. I enjoyed e-learning Collan, Sarra, Glenin and Cailet's back story and watching them grow into their roles. The heartbreak as the rising continued kept me enthralled as well a
Mar 29, 2012 Jessica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, favorites, a-f
Well, this is sort of standard fantasy, but enjoyable. There's nothing particularly new about the plot, but I would say it is nicely done. Magic is present but not constantly in use. The book is pleasantly chunky, full of descriptions and explanations that give the world quite a bit of depth and make it seem real, which can either be fun to read if you find that sort of thing interesting, or dull if you're not particularly fond of lengthy tidbits. I found it interesting, so I enjoyed the book ra ...more
Rebecca Huston
Aug 05, 2010 Rebecca Huston rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Sigh. I love it when an author takes the time to build a complex, interesting world. But in this one, it's so complex that at times the plot gets drowned out by the explainitis going on from the writer -- this was a book that was gorgeous in tone, and in language, but really needed an editor to trim it down. Hence the three star review. And I keep hearing rumours of a third book in the series, but haven't seen anything yet.

For the complete review, please go here:
I started off really liking this, but it completely lost my interest about a fourth of the way through. Some of that is my fault, since I didn't pay much attention while chugging through the gigantic infodumps with names and regions and yadda yadda. As a result, when some of the first characters die (view spoiler), my only real reaction was o ...more
Oct 05, 2012 Jen3n rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, fantasy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jester Girl
Dec 13, 2012 Jester Girl rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-fantasy
The author's grasp of her world, the family trees of the characters, and the political histories involved was impressive, but they could have been presented better. As it was, I felt like I was reading a history book for the first 200ish pages. From time to time I was a bit invested, but got annoyed when, just as I was beginning to take an interest in one character, the author would shift to the exhaustive history of another character. By the time the first character came around again, I had for ...more
The Pirate Ghost (Formerly known as the Curmudgeon)
This book starts the second trilogy/series I've read from Melanie Rawn and it's better than the Sunrunner books, in my opinion. Fantastic characters, fantastic story world, fantastic plot. The book was an easy read from cover to cover and left me wanting more. Fiesty Sarah is fun and she and the Bard deserve eachother. In more ways than one.

I laughed, I sat on the edge of my seat and oohed ad aaahed with each new chatper or development. I'd recommend it for anyone with the following warnings.

This book was three times longer than it needed to be. Normally I wouldn't complain at an author's choice to be detailed or even long-winded, but my god I didn't need to read about every council member or have the convoluted histories of the Names written out for thirty generations every time we met a new character. Even at the very end of the book, which should have been exciting and dramatic, there were paragraphs about a family's horse breeding down to the dates that certain breeds had been e ...more
Mar 27, 2012 Susan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Although I LOVED this book and the second one in the series, I do NOT recommend that anyone read either of them, YET. The third book has never been written and it has been over 12 years since the last one was published. If and when the final book comes out I will change this rating, but so many unanswered questions/cliff hangers really spoil the first two books.
M.L. Chesley
Oct 23, 2011 M.L. Chesley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
While I absolutely love Melanie Rawn, I was sorely disappointed that she did not finish this series. The books were outstanding, hence the five star review. But I would like to see this series finished. I don't know the reasons behind why she did not, but I have seen recent works of hers out on bookshelves and it still makes me wonder. Oh well.
Nov 30, 2012 Jamie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
without a doubt one of the best series i have EVER read. Melanie Rawns worlds and characters are beautifully crafted, and although her stories are very long, they dont FEEL long when you read them, total page turners.
May 03, 2015 Raine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
TL; DR version:

With the intricacy of R.R. Martin's popular series A Song of Ice and Fire, the spywork and cultural undertones of Tamora Pierce's Daughter of the Lioness series, and Melanie Rawn's own unique and very clever gender role reversal twist, The Ruins of Ambrai is a must-read, especially for lovers of strong female characters.

Full review:

At nearly a thousand pages, this is a monster of a book, and I have to admit that I got stuck at the last 100 pages of resolution. Once I knew how the
Abby Carter
Feb 14, 2014 Abby Carter rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I have to say this book lost me a few times. I'm not saying it was a bad book quite the opposite. I really enjoyed most of the book. The downfall for me was some of the characters didn't stick. I found Sarra and Cailet a bit irrational. I gravitated towards Glenin and Collan. Of course, I was frustrated at a few questions that seem to remain about some of the characters pasts and even some of their relationships, but I know there is sequel waiting that hopefully answers those questions. I would ...more
Apr 12, 2011 Grace rated it liked it
I'm not typically a fan of the swords-and-magic corner of scifi/fantasy, but this book did hold my interest. More than anything else I think it's because there's humour in the writing that really makes some of the other bits easier to swallow. Most of the characters are fun to hang out with, and the magic isn't a big pile of Handwavium, either. There seem to be rules, and magic is used casually but rarely so it doesn't end up mucking up the scenes too much.

I did finish the book perplexed about c
Apr 11, 2012 NaiNai rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not sure how I feel about this book at the end: I really liked it for the first half (up to ~p260), but then it started to seem that all the female characters were the same person (I guess Cailet seemed a bit distinct from her sisters), and inconsistency within the same character (I seem to recall Sarra first urging Alin to try at suspected Ladder, and then when they come across another suspected one, completely forbidding him from trying it until they had given it careful consideration. Althoug ...more
Dec 02, 2008 Art rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Another one of those books I randomly plucked off the "Fantasy / SciFi" shelf in my local bookstore and, having not felt nauseous after the first page, decided to read through. The story itself is not particularly imaginative: a faraway place called Lenfell is suffused by magic, two warring factions vie for power after a horrid cataclysm and a worse cataclysm is coming unless a team of plucky young people can stop it. Against that background, the most interesting part of the book is the careful ...more
Dec 01, 2008 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pure-fantasy
I recently was looking through my personal library looking for something (anything!) to spark my interest... that I couldn't remember very well. Before picking it up I will say I went out online and discovered that although book 2 exists (I own that one too), book 3 does not and appears as if it never will... nevertheless I read a few pages and found I didn't want to put this one down.

The characters are quite likable, the magic is interesting. The social structure is entertaining - women are the
Louise Mundt
Jan 09, 2013 Louise Mundt rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Bogudfordringen 2011 bød på fantasy, men da det er en af mine yndlingsgenrer, besluttede jeg at spice udfordringen lidt op og valgte derfor en 826-siders lang engelsksproget roman, jeg har haft stående på min reol siden ’95 eller deromkring. Jeg har haft begyndt på bogen flere gange, men er gået i stå af flere årsager: Sproget er kringlet, bogen har et kæmpe persongalleri og sidst men ikke mindst er den læsset med baggrundshistorie, der skal få læseren til at forstå, hvad det er for en verden, h ...more
L.Y. Levand
Feb 16, 2013 L.Y. Levand rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
The Ruins of Ambrai is a fantasy of epic proportions, and I would compare it to the Daughter of the Empire series. It's full of political intrigue, with three strong women as central characters.

The writing itself is very well done, except for a huge cast of characters that I had a difficult time keeping straight. There isn't much time used for character development, and each secondary character is, for the most part, described in a paragraph or two that the reader is expected to remember throug
N. Davis
Dec 08, 2013 N. Davis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Ruins of Ambrai is a fantastic story, one of the best I’ve read this year.
The story of three sisters: Glenin, Sara, and Cailet. How they were separated, and are now on opposite side of a war between Mage Guardians and Lords of Malerris.
As the story progresses they characters seem to shift away from what they wanted earlier in the story. Glenin becomes more focused on destroying the mages, and Sara compared to what she wanted in her first chapters.
Sara (to me) is a spoilt, rich girl far to
Nov 14, 2013 Lucy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Another one of my favourite books. Don't be put off by the large number of pages, each one is full of writing magic by Melanie Rawn.
The book is based on a split between sisters and they are so different. When they come face to face with each other your heart will be in your mouth it is so intense. All the storylines whether fight scenes, romances or deaths are amazing and be prepared to cry with both happiness because certain character romances are just so cute but also be prepared for characte
I've always been a fan of Melanie Rawn's Sunrunner series, and when I started Exiles, I think I liked it even more. I was unthrilled when she wasn't going to finish the series, as were many of her fans; however, rumor has it (from the grand dame herself) that she is, in fact, going to write and publish the long waited for third book! So of course I had to re-read the first two, and they're even better than I remember. Definitely goes down as some of my favorites!
Andreea Pausan
Jan 03, 2014 Andreea Pausan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great world-building: characters, history, economy, cities, social network, relations, magic, politics. At first it does seem a bit tedious, but slowly everything adds up beautifully. And on Lenfel women rule - it they who take on husbands, administer money, decide on the course on society: a pretense use to subtly criticize the position of women in our society.

The same as with the Dragon trilogies (Prince and Star), there is a fight for power and the right to change, to improve one's society, t
Amy Stevenson
Pulled this off a used bookstore shelf as a possible read for my son. Unfortunately it is more romance than fantasy or science fiction. While the world building was in some cases very detailed, the action was oddly flat and missing. Although there is supposed to be a cataclysmic meeting of good and evil, you don't get near the depth of detail you would expect at the climax. Especially compared to the detailed descriptions of the blue of the eyes of the primary male protagonist. In the end it fel ...more
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Melanie Rawn received a BA in history from Scripps College and worked as a teacher and editor before becoming a writer.

She has been nominated for a Locus award on three separate occasions: in 1989 for Dragon Prince (in the first novel category), in 1994 for Skybowl (in the fantasy novel category), and again in 1995 for Ruins of Ambrai (in the fantasy novel category).

More about Melanie Rawn...

Other Books in the Series

Exiles (3 books)
  • The Mageborn Traitor (Exiles, #2)
  • The Captal's Tower (Exiles, #3)

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