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The Ravenmaster: My Life with the Ravens at the Tower of London

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  4,055 ratings  ·  834 reviews
For centuries, the Tower of London has been home to a group of famous avian residents: the ravens. Each year they are seen by millions of visitors, and they have become as integral a part of the Tower as its ancient stones. But their role is even more important than that—legend has it that if the ravens should ever leave, the Tower will crumble into dust and great harm wil ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published October 2nd 2018 by HarperCollins Publishers
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Average rating 4.06  · 
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 ·  4,055 ratings  ·  834 reviews


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K.J. Charles
I vividly remember the day of Brexit. Nobody knew what the hell was going on and the pound fell off a cliff and we saw the leading Brexiteers looking nauseous and terrified as they realised their actions had catastrophic consequences, and the Prime Minister's resignation only made it to #3 on the news agenda. It was chaotic and terrifying in the days when that wasn't standard practice. I was on Twitter of course, and there I saw a tweet from the Ravenmaster with a picture of the Tower ravens tha ...more
jv poore
Months ago, I read a blurb about The Ravenmaster in The Week magazine and I had been trying to get to it since then. Admittedly, it took a while. Totally worth the wait.

This book amused & delighted me as I read it, and again whenever parts popped into my head. Mr. Skaife seems to be a natural story-teller. I know I hung on to every word, but by the end…I still had not gotten my fill of the seven ravens that call The Tower of London home.

You can easily imagine my enthusiasm when I realized they
...more
Diane S ☔
Oct 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
I found every aspect of this book incredibly well done. From the personal tone it is written in, to all the interesting information it imparts. We get to know the Ravenmaster, his time in the military, and what it takes to get this position in the tower. We learn about the Ravens, not only the stories that surround their being at the tower, but an up close look at their habitats, and even their personalities. One of their favorite snacks are dog bones soaked in blood. Well, they are carnivores, ...more
Trish
Oct 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've been a fan of ravens for a long time and always detested their bad reputation thanks to silly old superstitions that seem to mostly derive from their physical appearance and the fact that they are omnivores. Especially the latter seems only yet another sign of their extreme intelligence because all of us who've paid attention in biology know that highly specialized (picky) animals are much more likely to die out (yes, I'm also talking about you, sabre-toothed tigers).

It all began with Sir D
...more
Olive Fellows (abookolive)
I was completely charmed by this book. Coming off of two decades of military service, Skaife applies and eventually gets a position as a Yeomen Warder at the historical Tower of London. He now has the additional title of Ravenmaster as he is responsible for the six ravens that reside at the Tower. It's a job that was voted strangest in England, but the way Skaife describes it shows it to be a strictly regimented yet hands-off position that allows the birds to be as wild as possible. But his care ...more
Trish
Oct 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Some might have already seen my review for this book.
As mentioned before, this edition here is actually the one I wanted because the cover is much more beautiful, showing raven Merlina as well as the Ravenmaster and the Tower, hinting at the history theme that also permeates this great story along with the anecdotes about Christopher Skaife's life and his many adventures with the ravens.

Thus, although I already have the red UK edition, I had to have this one as well. When it finally arrived toda
...more
Montzalee Wittmann
Nov 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Ravenmaster
by Christopher Skaife
This is an audible book I requested and the review is voluntary.
This is one of the best non-fiction books I have read this year. I enjoyed everything about this book! The book is laid out wonderfully simple and efficiently. This is a book about taking care of the 6-7 ravens at the tower of London! The author is the Ravenmaster. It is his job to keep the ravens safe and healthy and at the tower. This sounds simple but as he tells it, there is a lot to this job and
...more
Raven
Nov 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Grab yourself a cuppa, perhaps a couple of chocolate biscuits, and relax into the company of The Ravenmaster, Mr Christopher Skaife. I absolutely loved the conversational feel of this fascinating and very enjoyable biography of Skaife's careers past and present, and the genuine passion and enthusiasm he has for the headstrong, noble and beautiful ravens in his care.

Skaife's storytelling, both serious and humorous is filled with information, anecdotes and moments of hilarity, all with the easy c
...more
Billie
Aug 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Narrated by the author, with whom I now want to hang out and have a drink.
Jeanette
Jan 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding. And you don't need to be a bird person either.

Especially loved the tone and all the historic elements. Photos were a 6. What a practical methods and human to bird (and vice versa) genius.
...more
Orsolya
Nov 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: library, memoir
I am known for my obsession with England and English history. The obsession that comes into a close second place: birds. Both subjects own a huge real estate in my heart and together, they result in my fascination with the ravens living at the Tower of London. Christopher Skaife is a name that has been on my radar, as he holds the title of Ravenmaster (and I am quite jealous of his job). Skaife highlights his role as the Ravenmaster and a Yeomen Warder in, “The Ravenmaster: My Life with the Rave ...more
Nostalgia Reader
4.5 stars.

This will be a very brief review, not for lack of interest in the book, but rather because it was relatively short itself.

Skaife is a delightful storyteller, and this memoir weaves the perfect mixture of facts about caring for the ravens at the Tower, personal history, and Tower factoids. I never felt like the raven-memoir aspect of it was ever sacrificed for the personal history aspect. Skaife frames the book around his daily routine with the birds, with chapters veering off to talk a
...more
Alex Givant
Feb 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoirs, audio
March 2018 we went to London and of course visited Tower. In it we saw some beautiful raven with pink ribbon on it's leg. Thanks to the book I know now it was one of the oldest and smartest raven in the Tower - Merlina. Likes this book a lot, quite interesting read. ...more
Barbara
A wonderful story narrated by the author. Skaife convinces readers that ravens are indeed fascinating. Like the best of books that are memoirs centered on people and animals, the readers will come to respect and even love these creatures. Skaife is no nonsense, down-to-earth, but authoritative. Before his job at the Tower of London, he was in the British Army and credits that experience with developing his love of routine, order, and not least of all, love of his country. He served in Northern I ...more
Sandie
Jan 26, 2020 rated it liked it
There was a lot more Ravenmaster than raven in this book and although a disappointment, the book never claims to be anything other than that. I was somewhat lost with the references to the city of London and the set-up and history of the Tower of London and some additional visuals would have been appreciated. My book club agreed that what saved the book was the relentless cheerfulness and enthusiasm of the Ravenmaster and author. His love of the birds and his job is readily apparent. I would lov ...more
Karen
Nov 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a compelling memoir of Christopher Skaife, Ravenmaster at the Tower. I thoroughly enjoyedthe descriptions of the seven ravens that live in the Tower, and their daily life, but I found the stories of Skaife's life working with the ravens just as interesting. Skaife has a wonderful sense of humor, and what a great job he has. ...more
Kelly
Feb 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I visited the Tower of London in 2018 and was able to see the Ravens first hand. They are gorgeous birds and the Wardens are so lively and helpful and interesting. I really enjoyed reading about the Ravens and the way things work at the Tower. Highly recommend this to anyone who loves to read about the lucky people who get to keep this historical site running and the Ravens who keep it standing.
Steve Wiggins
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Before reading this book I had no idea there was such a job as Ravenmaster. I has been decades since I’ve been to the Tower of London and I have to admit that I didn’t notice the ravens when I was there. I was too busy being a small town boy down from Edinburgh where I was working on my doctorate, and seeing London really for the first time. I’m fascinated by ancient buildings and history, but, at the time, ravens were off my radar. Christopher Skaife, however, is a good story teller. With irony ...more
The Captain
Dec 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Ahoy there mateys! I lived in the port of London for a bit and loved every moment of it. Of course one of the places we visited was the Tower of London. Which has ravens. As I hail from port of Baltimore, I have always been fond of ravens and Poe’s raven in particular. Plus there have been fascinating articles about ravens in the media. Me memories of the Tower that day are shoddy but when I saw this book about the history of the ravens at the Tower, I decided to give it a go. It never occurred ...more
Margaret
Those of you on Facebook and Twitter who follow Chris Skaife aka the Ravenmaster, know just what a highly intelligent and quirky individual he is.

This book showcases both attributes, along with his obvious love for the ravens he is now priviledged to look after.

What comes across is just how strong the personalities are of the various ravens. The famous Merlina being the most obvious.

Chris writes with wit and warmth which makes for a charming combination. He is also capable of much pathos, as I
...more
Laura
Ravens have lived at the Tower of London forever (or maybe since 1880). They have been under the protection of the royal family since Charles II (or maybe not). There is an age old legend that if the ravens ever leave the Tower, England will fall (or maybe drunk tour guides made that up during Victorian times).

The Ravenmaster cares for the Ravens. He is one of the elite military men who guard the Tower of London. It's as if Alfred Pennyworth decided not to be a butler in Gotham in favor of cari
...more
Wendy
Oct 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have been a fan of ravens and crows my entire life. When I met the ravens at the Tower I fell in love. Ordering this book was a no-brainer! WAITING FOR IT TO GET ACROSS THE POND was a bummer. All the UK reviews on social media just reminded me how far away I am. Once it was in my hands I devoured it. Great read. Charming, thoughtful and absolutely enjoyable.
Jeanne
Oct 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
CW: The author is a member of the military, and specifically served in Norther Ireland during the Troubles. There are brief mentions of his service, very much in a positive light, and some less positive remarks about the IRA. I see why this was included, as the authors views his service in the military as synonymous with his service to his country as the Ravenmaster, but it's not necessary to the story and could be jarring to readers who have personal connections to Northern Ireland.

This was a v
...more
Saturday's Child
Feb 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What an interesting job the author has and I really enjoyed reading about it.
Book Concierge
Subtitle: My Life With the Ravens at the Tower of London

This memoir details Skaife’s career path to what has become his life’s work: the Ravenmaster at the Tower of London. He recounts what led to his joining the Army, some of his experiences in service and his chance decision to apply for a position as a Yeoman Warder at the Tower upon retirement from active service. But he spends most of the book regaling the reader with stories about the ravens.

Skaife is clear at the outset: he is not a scien
...more
Ashes
May 16, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: shelf, birds
(Positive 3 stars - I just expected more about the Tower ravens!)

I enjoyed the book, but honestly, there just wasn't enough written about the Tower ravens. I mean, that's what you expect when you see the title.

Skaife writes about himself quite a bit (I didn't mind these parts as they were more or less interesing), gives the reader a history lesson or two, and then writes about ravens in general, and about random events that had little to do with the ravens, and, finally, about the Tower ravens t
...more
Tracey Allen at Carpe Librum
Legend has it that if the ravens at the Tower of London should ever leave, the Tower will crumble into dust and great harm will befall the kingdom. It is the responsibility of the Ravenmaster and his team to ensure this never happens. Christopher Skaife is a Yeoman Warder and the Ravenmaster at the Tower of London and this is his memoir.

In The Ravenmaster - My Life with the Ravens at the Tower of London, Christopher takes the reader through his daily routine and introduces us to each of the rave
...more
Jim
Aug 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful book! I have no problem giving this one *****! And a big reason is that the story is told in such an entertaining manner by Christopher Skaife, the keeper of the ravens at the Tower of London. I feel that I am sitting there in a pub listening to the man telling us his story. I imagine he makes an excellent guide at the Tower!
He has the unique job of taking care of the ravens at the Tower. He tries to allow them to have as free and wild a life as possible while making sure the
...more
Lauren Stoolfire
I follow Christopher Skaife on Twitter and his account is absolutely fascinating. I love seeing the ravens at the Tower of London. I visited the Tower several years ago, so it was really cool to learn more about about the history of the place, the significance of the ravens, and more. The production of the audiobook was fantastic as the author read it himself which really helped make it.
Leslie Ann
Nov 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Leslie Ann by: Karen
This is the third year in a row in which I unwittingly prepared Thanksgiving dishes while listening to a fun/uplifting memoir. Skaife is a wonderful storyteller, and his narration of the audiobook is a treat. I learned a bunch of stuff, too, such as what to bring for ravens (dog biscuits), how raven-owner Charles Dickens memorialized his cat (turned one of its paws into a letter cutter), and how to tell the difference between ravens and crows (among other things, ravens are much bigger, croak in ...more
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Christopher Skaife is Yeoman Warder (Beefeater) and Ravenmaster at the Tower of London. He has served in the British Army for twenty-four years, during which time he became a machine-gun specialist as well as an expert in survival and interrogation resistance. He has been featured on the History Channel, PBS, the BBC, Buzzfeed, Slate, and more. He lives at the Tower with his wife and, of course, t ...more

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68 likes · 7 comments
“The black can be sooty, soily, glazed, cindery, blackboard black, kohl black, coal black, noir, schwarz, nero. I don’t know how many words and phrases there are to describe black—slate black, cast-iron black, jet black, flat-screen-TV black, ink black, burnt black, liturgical black, hell black—but the raven’s black is as various and as a dense as there are meanings and values attached to the very idea of black, black representing death, mourning, negation, sin, solemnity, the vacancy of space, and all the horrors of human terror and the exercise of power.” 5 likes
“I also keep a jar full of raven feathers in the storeroom, kindly donated by the ravens once a year during their molt, and which I occasionally like to distribute to deserving/well-behaved/lucky visitors. If I’m doing a Tower tour, for example, and I discover that a couple just got married or engaged, I like to give them a pair of feathers—a primary and a secondary, since without one the other is no good. I’m an old romantic at heart.” 1 likes
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