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Ruins of Ambrai

(Exiles #1)

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  8,715 ratings  ·  175 reviews
A thousand years ago, Mageborns fled prejudice and persecution to colonize the planet Lenfell—pristine, untouched, a perfect refuge for those whose powers were perceived as a threat by people not gifted with magic. But the greater the magic, the greater the peril—and Lenfell was soon devastated by a war between rival Mageborn factions that polluted land, sea, and air with ...more
Kindle Edition, 848 pages
Published November 1st 1995 by DAW (first published 1994)
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Average rating 4.06  · 
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 ·  8,715 ratings  ·  175 reviews

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Dec 06, 2010 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 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 a
Dec 07, 2008 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
Patrick St-Denis
Like a multitude of fantasy readers of my generation, I was a big fan of Melanie Rawn's Dragon Prince and Dragon Star series back in the 90s. And when The Ruins of Ambrai, first volume in the Exiles trilogy, was published in 1994, I purchased the hardcover edition as soon as it came out. Did the same when its sequel, The Mageborn Traitor, was released. Daunted by the proliferation of big fantasy series on the market, like I did with several other SFF sequences, I elected not to read them until t ...more
Rebecca Huston
Aug 05, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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:
Josephine McNabb
May 29, 2015 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
Dev Null
May 26, 2009 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
Jester Girl
Dec 11, 2012 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
Kate Lansky
Jul 29, 2011 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
Mar 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, favorites
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
M.L. Chesley
Oct 23, 2011 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.
Mar 20, 2015 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
Sep 27, 2012 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.
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) ...more
Jan 08, 2012 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
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. ...more
Mar 27, 2012 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.
Jul 08, 2012 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.
Mar 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a spur of the moment Goodwill pick. I was initially fairly ambivalent about the story until probably 300 pages in (roughly a third of the way through). It seemed like Rawn was mostly setting up characters and laying out plot lines up until that point.

It was not readily apparent to me (until probably 1/2 of the way through) that the book largely followed the lives of three sisters or that some themes of the book--lineage, sexuality, family--were the primary themes until late
Jun 17, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel is really great for about the first third of the book. Rawn sets up four main characters with background stories that are almost good enough for the price of the book. However, the story just falls apart after that, the novel loses its sense of time, and bogs down in its "social messages".
Rawn creates a world where all of the gender steotypes are reversed. This is done in a really clever and insightfull way, and if this was a stand alone book, would really be a memerable acheive
Nov 20, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: unreadable
I was excited to pick this up, having greatly enjoyed other books by the author in the past. It starts out promising enough, bursting with flavor and the joy of discovering a new world... then, slowly at first, but then exponentially deteriorates about halfway through. My main issues included unrealistic character motivations, obvious and clichéd plot development (on the occasions the plot actually advances), and a lack of editing to the point where I wondered if the editor had quit after throwi ...more
L Brady
Dec 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
I absolutely loved this book and it's one that i check on every few months in the desperate hopes of the third in the series coming out. Others are right - until the last book comes out perhaps stay clear because it is such a gripping story that even fifteen years after reading it, I still double check on amazon and in every bookshelf I go into!
The story itself is really interesting - the world that is created is brilliant, the characters layered and compelling and the mysteries that start
Bree Taylor
May 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, 2019
I first read this book in 1997 and read the second one shortly thereafter. And am STILL WAITING.

As much as I love this book and the sequel, I can't even write a decent review because I'm still so bitter about no conclusion two decades later.

It's amazing. Some of the best characters and incredible world building. BUT..... don't start it unless you just want disappointment at the end of book 2 since book 3 isn't out yet.
Aug 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
interesting world-building. mysterious world history and character background. lots of detail in the world-building. sometimes the characters fall a bit flat on top of the mystery of the setting. series has been unfinished for decades but still worth a read. honestly where it ends in the second book is a good enough ending for the story imo.
May 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved the book, but this series isn't finished. Still. Still low-key annoyed about it.
Jillian Barr
Jul 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely loved this book. So much that I bought a copy to read again, and I am NOT the type that reads books more than once. Wish there were follow up books to this because it's a great read.
Sep 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this a looooong time ago, but I remember really enjoying it.
Sep 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After having gone through Melanie's Dragon Prince series, which I really enjoyed, I was happy to pick up this one too as I liked her writing style and the way she told her stories. I wasn't disappointed and was hooked pretty quickly. Character development was good with people that you can really start to care about (unlike some novels where you start hate the main characters and want the bad guy to kill them already just so you don't need to read yet another paragraph with them in it). Like her ...more
Jan 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Glad I read this one! Loved the stories of each of the characters and how they intermingled. This book kept me entertained from the beginning.
L.Y. Levand
Feb 15, 2013 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
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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).

Other books in the series

Exiles (3 books)
  • The Mageborn Traitor (Exiles, #2)
  • Captal's Tower (Exiles, #3)
“If she could find a man who could feel and laugh as well as desire, she might even think about thinking about marriage.” 15 likes
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