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For one with the ravenmark, there is no balance.

Connor Mac Niall has everything he wants. As the best freelance man-at-arms in the known world, his reputation brings him jobs that provide adventure, women, and money in abundance.

But Connor has a secret: He’s ravenmarked. The avenging spirit of the earth, known as the Morrag, has chosen him to be her angel of death–to kill those she wants killed. Connor has run from her call half his life, and working as a freelance helps him keep the need to kill quelled.

When Connor reluctantly agrees to escort a fleeing royal heir to safety, he has no idea that the journey will bring him face to face with the Morrag–and require that he choose between destiny and freedom. He finds himself confronted with old regrets and new choices. On one side pursued by a sorcerer who wants him dead and on the other side tempted by the Morrag to submit his will to hers, Connor unwittingly escorts his charge right into the path of greatest danger for them both. He faces a choice: Submit his will to the Morrag’s control, or let the royal heir die.

Set against a backdrop of romance, political instability, and magic, Ravenmarked is the first in a five-book epic fantasy series titled The Taurin Chronicles.

392 pages, Kindle Edition

First published January 28, 2011

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About the author

Amy Rose Davis

12 books22 followers
I'm a freelance copywriter and independent fantasy author.

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Unquickened: Book Three of The Taurin Chronicles releases on November 22, 2022!

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5 stars
22 (40%)
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23 (42%)
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7 (12%)
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Displaying 1 - 15 of 15 reviews
Profile Image for Pauline Ross.
Author 10 books287 followers
July 23, 2012
I’ve been enjoying the author’s articles for Fantasy Faction for some time now, but never thought to check her own website. Lo and behold, here’s the first part of a traditional-style epic fantasy. I had a look at the sample, and just kept on reading. To me, this kind of story is like coming home after a horrendous long-haul flight, or falling into your own bed after a week’s camping, it just wraps itself around you like a warm duvet. There’s a strong warrior with a secret, an innocent long-lost heiress to the throne, a prophecy, a rebellious princess, a usurper with a conscience and lots of magic, and although this sounds terribly clichéd, Davis gives it all a fresh feel and a bit of romantic fairy dust.

Like most multi-book fantasies, the opening chapters feature a deluge of names and places and incomprehensible references, but things soon settle down and there are numerous excuses for explanations along the way, so that details are revealed in small, natural doses rather than in dry info-dumps. The world-building is terrific: the various cultures, the different forms of magic, the religious practitioners and the history of their interactions going back a thousand years, at least, have all been carefully thought out, together with the resultant complications and consequences. And it all feels completely and utterly real. I love the various symbolic tattoos of the tribal people, for instance, and there are tiny details, such as the fact that Connor’s lover at the start of the book signals her rank with rows of gold rings on her ears.

Sadly, the background is the default off-the-shelf pseudo-medieval fantasy world, with all the usual paraphernalia. I don't object to the castles, dukes, and monarchy (there has to be some political system, and it's as good as any other), and low-tech necessarily leads to swords and bows and daggers, but it's just a pity to fall back on the tired themes of slavery, the neglected poor, mistreated whores, riotous taverns and so forth. And ho, hum, the heroine on the brink of being raped... I might have seen that scenario once or twice before.

There are four main characters. Connor is the rather roguish warrior, who makes a casual if profitable living as a hired sword protecting travellers. Mairead is the rightful heiress to the throne, an innocent who has led a sheltered life in a religious order. Braedan is the usurper of the throne, who is being manipulated but still hopes to be a benevolent king. Igraine is the feisty daughter of a foreign king, who wants a proper job, not a husband and babies. Then there are a few other characters who get their own point of view at times when there's none of the main characters around. None of these are outstandingly original types, but the author makes them very believable and likeable (even Braedan, who ought to be the villain). And there’s just that touch of romance fizzing below the surface right from the start. I’m not mad keen on too much love interest in fantasy as a rule, because the afflicted characters are sometimes inclined to stupidity on account of it, but here there are only occasional outbreaks of plot-driven stupidity, and the two pairings are actually great fun - both the verbal sparring of one pair, and the sexual tension of the other.

Some minor grumbles. Braedan has overturned a thousand-year regency and declared himself king, yet he's swanning around court as if he has every right to be there and no one seems to be objecting very much. Why no major rebellions in the land? The names - OK, they're vaguely Celtic, but it's kind of a mish-mash of influences (Sean Mac Rian, Igraine, Bronwyn - sort of Irish and Welsh with a bit of King Arthur thrown in). And the dialects - the 'dinna ye' stuff, is kind of Scottish, but every time Igraine said 'lass' or 'lad', I heard it in broad Yorkshire, so I half expected her to say 'ee bah gum, trouble a't mill'. But maybe that's just me. As for the romance - there are just a tad too many meaningful glances and tingling touches and weak-kneed moments for my liking, and a lot of should-we, shouldn’t-we angsting. And everyone's so beautiful. And terribly noble and restrained and self-sacrificing and implausibly chaste. Not that I object to these ideals in principle, you understand, but some of the characters are quite astonishingly virtuous.

The good points. When people are hurt, they bleed, they bruise, bones get broken, and it takes time to heal. It isn’t always the bloke who saves the woman, sometimes she does the saving (hurray!). In fact, this is one of those rare books where the female characters really are strong, independent people, acting on their own initiative, not just there as love interest and motivation for the blokes. They can be just as handy with the weaponry or magic, too. I liked, too, that minor characters along the way are generally helpful and decent; so much fantasy these days seems to have a default position that everyone is irredeemably evil, just because.

I rather liked the various magic systems and the different races with their different powers. It seems at first sight like a bit of a muddle, but it's been very carefully thought through and everything seems to work nicely. Of course, it suffers from the usual problem with magic - sometimes it's just a get-out-of-jail-free card. A character gets into a mess and lo, there's a magical thingummy to hand or a magic-imbued creature appears from nowhere. And unlimited healing power is a bit of a fudge (although to be fair, it doesn't always work, which is rather cool).

The ending is a nice page-turning climax to events, with a bit of a battle, some neat twists and turns, and some very satisfactory resolutions while also setting things up beautifully for the next book. This was a totally enjoyable reading experience, pure pleasure, and the few minor niggles never affected that, although the romance level probably makes it one for the ladies. Very much looking forward to the next episode. Four stars.
1,406 reviews10 followers
February 27, 2011
Somewhat to my surprise, I liked this book quite a bit. I'll definitely buy the sequel.

What I liked:

-- The world building. The author has presented a fairly unique and complex world. The world consists of several nations/regions in competition, if not conflict, across which are spread 6 races/species. Three of the races/species are "good"; three are bad. On each of the two "sides" one of the races is basically human with "no" magic; one is basically elven with magic; and one race is completely magical. Then there is the fact that there is a "good god" and an "evil god" who is the deity of each side (although at this juncture both are somewhat absent from direct intervention). About a thousand years ago, these two sides fought it out and the world was shattered. Now, it appears, they are about to go at it again. So as you can see, there is lots there to build on and the author does a creditable job doing so....allowing the portrait of the world to painted naturally via the storytelling and characters rather than some artificial expository manner.

-- The story: The story is interesting and keeps you involved. It's pretty complex, so you'd better pay attention. In my opinion moving at a proper pace... not too slow so as to become boring, but not too fast so as to preclude time for character development and interaction with something besides a sword.

-- The characters. I really liked the characters. They aren't Mary Sues. They have their strengths and weaknesses. What I found interesting is that for quite a significant portion of the book, the guy you probably thought was the villain probably isn't. Then again, maybe he is. Or perhaps not today. Later, after we discover that the guy who we thought was the main villain may not be, we are introduced to the "mostest evil character" (my term). But that "mostest evil character" has several of the other "not so evil today" characters in her, um..."pocket" so maybe those characters are really evil after all. The author presents us with complex characters and takes the time to develop them appropriately through dialogue and story.

Ok, so with all that, why not 5 stars? Well,there were a couple of minor annoyances. I actually would give it 4.5 starts if I could. One of the minor annoyances that knoocked off .5 points: The author's repeated use of a plot device involving parentage. We are moving along thinking the main character is a sole survivor of the massacre of his family, then we start to suspect he is not. One of the principal secondary characters, whose significance lies in being a sole heir; a fact crucial to the entire storyline, discovers 3/4 of the way through the book that this may not be true. Another principal secondary character discovers that he/she may not even be human...being switched at birth or adopted and lied to by his/her parents. Even the "mostest evil character" by deduction probably isn't really the daughter of who she appears to be. Gentle Hint to the author: You're a good writer...find some additional plot devices.
Profile Image for J.C. Hart.
Author 21 books51 followers
September 10, 2011
Reading this novel was like coming home. It sent me back in time to my teens when I devoured the books of Raymond E. Feist, David Eddings, and other weavers of fantasy. It reminded me why I love pure fantasy – not urban, not paranormal, not contemporary, or any other of those new fandangled concoctions. Sure, they are great if thats what you like, and I do like them when the stories are well told and not more of the same old. There just seems to be an overwhelming number of those books, and far less good, old school fantasy these days.

This novel is well written, with many threads beautifully intertwined. There are so many different story lines, all of which converge masterfully, leaving the reader set up for the next book in the series. The various characters are so real, and present, that I found myself believing what they believed – some of it which was at odds with the other characters, to the point that I wasn’t sure who I could trust to be on the right side of the battle. Sounds a little odd, doesn’t it? But it’s fantastic! It isn’t until close to the end of book one that more snippets of truth come to light and we begin to see the full spectrum of the world that Davis has created.

I can’t say enough good things about the world building. There are many elements at play and they are familiar enough to make the story accessible, but also unique enough to set it apart from other fantasy novels of this type.

This is not Amy’s first release, but it is the first novel she has published. She’s in the middle of writing the sequel, and I for one cannot wait for it to come out. Actually, I can, because I know it’s going to be well worth it. This is one self published author who knows how important it is to get the novel right before releasing it, and I have every faith that the second installment will be just as good as the first, if not better.

I think this one would have to be a 4.5 stars from me. If you haven’t braved the sometimes murky waters of self published novels yet, this would be a great place to start. She takes her craft seriously, and it shows.
Profile Image for Jennie Ivins.
Author 1 book18 followers
June 18, 2011
Going into this book I knew very little about the story, but became hooked in the very first chapter! Amy has created a unique world with an interesting magic system and great political intrigue all tied together by the prophesy of a coming queen. She has managed to create a compelling epic fantasy without using the standard tropes usually associated with one. And while there are no elves or dwarves, the supernatural creatures of her own design will make you want to find out more about this extraordinary new world.

The thing I enjoyed most about this book was the characters. Each one is deep and real. And whether you’re reading about the usurping king, the fleeing true heir or the roughish hired sword, you want each person to succeed even though some of their goals conflict with those of the other characters. I can always tell it’s a good story when I start rooting for the bad guy during his chapters and rooting for the good guy during theirs.

One of the only things I disliked about this story was the fact that it is (once again) book one of a series and when I got to the end, the story had not come to completion. There was also a good deal of romance in the book. Not that romance is a bad thing, and it did fit the story perfectly, but I’m not normally a romance reading type. However if you are anti-romance this book might not be a good fit for you. Aside from that I’d recommend this to anyone who likes epic fantasy. Also I wish Goodreads did half stars, because this book should be 4-1/2 not 4.

Read the whole review at Fantasy-Faction.com!
Profile Image for Lara Dunning.
43 reviews60 followers
May 30, 2011
Conor MacNiall is given a great task, transport the Taurin heir to safety. Begrudgingly he accepts the task, not because his mother the Brae Sidh Queen asks him, but because he will receive something he desperately wants in return. As Conor’s journey begins the readers learn about the beauty and volatile nature of Taura. A new king has usurped the throne, Forbidden are roaming the lands, the Brae Sidh are in jeopardy of losing their magic and the Morrag is calling for justice with blood.

There are two pairs of characters that drive the story. Conor & Mairead and Braedan & Igraine. These characters are very complex and each adds a unique depth to their own storyline, while at the same time, enhancing the overall plot. Each characters storylines are easily kept track of and do not get tangled or lost, as they tend to do in some novels.

The characters and the world they live in all make Ravenmarked stand out. Amy takes this epic fantasy story one step further by incorporating the struggles with women’s rights and slavery. Two key themes that clearly stood out by the end of the book. Once I understood Taura and how the characters all fit together I had a hard time putting the book down. There are so many unique elements to the storyline that keep the pace moving. I look forward to reading the next book.

This book has mature themes and is not really age appropriate for young readers.

Profile Image for N.M. Martinez.
Author 3 books22 followers
March 26, 2011
I'm not a huge fan of fantasy, especially Epic Fantasy, but I honestly enjoyed reading this book.

First off, and one of the most important things to me, the writing is superb. It was so easy to fall into and just as good as anything out there I would find on a book store shelf.

Second off, the characters are each unique and outstanding. Braedon, as the usurper of the throne, was the first pleasant surprise. Mairead, the proper royal heir, is the second.

And third, the world building is fantastic. There are so many elements to delve into with the story. Handily, there is a glossary included in the back of the book (I know it is difficult sometimes to "flip" back to it with most eReaders), but most of the words I managed to figure out as I read and I loved every minute of it. From the religion to the different groups, everything comes together in beautiful and interesting layers.

Why only four stars and not five? Only because there were some times when there was too much telling for me-- generally when it came to passing time just as when Mairead and Connor were out traveling. It wasn't enough to detract from the story really, but I can only see this series getting even better.

Seriously, this was an amazing first book, and I look forward to the sequel.
Profile Image for Laurel.
Author 1 book31 followers
June 19, 2012
Tasked with transporting Mairead, the heir to the Taurin throne, to distant Sveklant by his mother, the Queen Maeve, Connor discovers that this is far more than his usual job. Tracked by a Forbidden, he must come to terms with who and what he is. At the same time, is Braedan, the usurper to the Taurin throne, all that he seems to be at first glance - a callous unbeliever who causes chaos in the realm? Igraine, Princess of Eirya, finally finds a purpose for her life in her appointment as ambassador to the kirok, but is that her ultimate purpose?

Ravenmarked is an easy book to read. Amy Rose Davis draws one into the world she has created, and skilfully shows it to the reader. The characters are all compelling, but don't make assumptions about any of them.

This book is one of the best high fantasy books I've read in years. From the first page to the last one is drawn into the lives of Connor, Mairead, Braedan, Igraine and a host of other characters. I sometimes turned the pages on my kindle too soon in eagerness to read more - and then had to go back to get the full story. I look forward with anticipation to the day I can pick up Bloodbonded and reenter this marvellous world to see what happens next.
Profile Image for Donald Grant.
Author 9 books11 followers
April 11, 2011
First, you need to know this is the beginning of a series. Second, now that you know that, this is an excellent example of good fantasy writing. The complexity of the characters and the intricacy of the plot rivals any that I have read. Davis has created a world of mystery, magic, and romance that keeps the reader turning pages quickly to find out what happens next. Echoing the themes of Macbeth with shades of Tolkien the author takes us on an exciting journey into her imagination. The only downside was in turning to the last page and wishing it wasn’t.
Profile Image for Laura.
187 reviews10 followers
August 17, 2016
I really enjoyed this book! It was not a book that I usually would be interested in, being a multi-POV book on the epic end of the fantasy scale. But I found myself really engaged with the characters and the plot. The world had enough real world analogs to it that there wasn't need for excessive world building, so the exposition seemed to flow more naturally. I definitely plan to continue reading the series!
Profile Image for Judi Murphy.
6 reviews2 followers
April 16, 2011
I loved it! It has been a while since I have found a book so completely un-put-downable (I burnt my dinner reading it). Amy Rose Davis's words bring the characters alive; they induced me to care what happened to them, to smile when times where good, to hold my breath when trouble came calling.

My only complaint is that I have to wait until next year to read the second book in the series.
Profile Image for Jane.
Author 10 books8 followers
June 6, 2011
I loved this book - read it twice, in fact!
Amy has created a rich and layered fantasy world where mysticism and pragmatic actions merge seamlesly. Her characters are solid, every action rings true to their personalities and histories. Questions of faith and social fairness are asked, and are not easily answered, and the action never stops.
I can't wait for her to finish Bloodbonded!
Displaying 1 - 15 of 15 reviews

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