The Ravenmaster

My Life with the Ravens at the Tower of London
Narrated by: Christopher Skaife
Length: 6 hrs and 39 mins
Categories: History, Europe
4.5 out of 5 stars (334 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

This program is read by the author.

The first behind-the-scenes account of life with the legendary ravens at the world’s eeriest monument. 

The ravens at the Tower of London are of mighty importance: rumor has it that if a raven from the Tower should ever leave, the city will fall.   

The title of Ravenmaster, therefore, is a serious title indeed, and after decades of serving the Queen, Yeoman Warder Christopher Skaife took on the added responsibility of caring for the infamous ravens. In The Ravenmaster, he lets listeners in on his life as he feeds his birds raw meat and biscuits soaked in blood, buys their food at Smithfield Market, and ensures that these unusual, misunderstood, and utterly brilliant corvids are healthy, happy, and ready to captivate the four million tourists who flock to the Tower every year.    

A rewarding, intimate, and inspiring partnership has developed between the ravens and their charismatic and charming human, the Ravenmaster, who shares the folklore, history, and superstitions surrounding the ravens and the Tower. Shining a light on the behavior of the birds, their pecking order and social structure, and the tricks they play on us, Skaife shows who the Tower’s true guardians really are - and the result is a compelling and irreverent audiobook that will surprise and enchant.

©2018 Historic Royal Palaces Enterprises Ltd. (P)2018 Macmillan Audio

Critic Reviews

"[Christopher Skaife's] natural storyteller's charm results in a performance that is conversational, funny, and self-deprecating...Ravenmaster is a joyful listening experience." (AudioFile Magazine)

Editorial Review

Charles Dickens once stuffed his dead cat, Bob, and used his paw as a letter opener. When I read this delicious detail in an excerpt from The Ravenmaster, I knew I had to get my paws on it (ha!) ASAP. Christopher Skaife is duty sworn to protect the ravens at the Tower of London, and his new memoir is EVERYTHING—from creepy historic tidbits about certain taxidermy-loving authors, to the lengths his favorite raven, Merlina, will go to snatch Pringles from unsuspecting tourists. He's especially amazing on audio, and you'll feel like you're getting a private, all-day tour with one of London's most fascinating characters. —Rachel S., Audible Editor

What listeners say about The Ravenmaster

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  • Overall
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A Classic, I Was Spellbound! Master Story Telling!

Celebrated writer Neil Gaiman recommended this book. So, I quickly snapped it up. Do not deny yourself the pleasure of reading this book! Or listening to a master storyteller! This is master storytelling, at its finest! The narration is pure magic. I know I will read this book again, and again. For sure, it is going on my Christmas lists so others can experience being transported to the Tower of London and introduced to the magic therein. No matter your age, you will be shapeshifted into a little child again, listening to this book. I would buy any audiobook narrated by this storyteller. Of course, I now have to go see the Tower of London for myself. As it has now been transformed from a pedestal of injustice, ghosts, and shame, into a magical wonderland of good will. Christopher Skaife deserves a knighthood. Standing Ovation! Encore! Encore! Oh, there is one! Great interview with the author at the end of the book. Don't overlook it!

16 people found this helpful

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Funny, informative, wonderful book on a fascinating topic & person!

Thank goodness the Ravenmaster himself reads this book on Audible, as his performance is "spot on" for conveying the excitement, challenges, joy, and at times great sadness of being the person in charge of 7 highly intelligent wild birds on display year-round to the public at their very own majestic Tower.
I read this book and enjoyed it, and then found that Christopher Skaife did the Audible version and I decided to effectively pay twice for the book, and I am so thankful I did! The book offers a few photos, which make it worthwhile, but the audio version is truly priceless as Chris' rendition of the stories in the book make them come alive through his theatrical readings as well as his obvious emotions and tenderness towards his "subjects".
Throughout this book, I laughed, I cried, I had friends, family and coworkers listening along and enjoying the stories as much as I was, and I was left with the urge to get on a flight to London and visit the ravens and hope to see Chris out on the yard clicking away in "Ravenish" with Merlina. I will make a plan to get there soon..and I hope Chris does not plan to retire anytime in the next 10-20 years as the ravens undoubtedly have a far better life under his care than they would otherwise.
Thank goodness there are wonderful people like the Ravenmaster who look after these international treasures on behalf of the public that cares about history and cares about wild animals.
I think to a person that has listened along with me to this book, they have enjoyed it and most have gone on to buy their own copies..and to me, that says a lot as I have a whole library of personal books for which most never have any general interest besides my own. Thus, I would say to anyone who loves birds, loves history, loves England, or just loves hearing a great storyteller, they too should buy this Audible book!!

6 people found this helpful

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Birds and more birds

I am just cuckoo for birds. This is a lovely book about a man who has dedicated his life to caring for a London treasure, the ravens of the Tower. I enjoyed every minute of it. This is a book totally in the black. #unique #FeelGood #Birdalicious #tagsgiving #sweepstakes

5 people found this helpful

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Brilliantly narrated by the author

I'm so glad I got the audiobook version... the author does a fantastic job narrating this book, and it is so much more satisfying than how I would have heard the words in my head. The author has tremendous enthusiasm and a distinctive regional accent that makes listening to this a real treat.

4 people found this helpful

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So glad that Mr. Skaife narrated this himself

Mr. Skaife captivated me with this history of the ravens and the details of his job caring for those. He has a delightful way of telling a story strewn with humorous tidbits. I feel like I gained a proper understanding and that I owe that in a big way to him telling the story himself.

3 people found this helpful

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Fun for adults and kids

My kids loved this slice of life at the Tower, since they've been there and could remember many of the areas discussed. But the accent and history and portraits of ravens are great for anyone. Definitely recommend!

3 people found this helpful

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I can’t wait to meet Chris.

And the ravens. I want to meet them all as soon as I can.
I will remain a respectful member of the public but would be so grateful to shake this man’s hand.

3 people found this helpful

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Very Enjoyable

A great listen!!! Highly recommended!! Engaging non-fiction look at the ravens of the Tower. Brilliant!

5 people found this helpful

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Captivating

When I found out about this book I remember thinking “what a cool idea for a book.” After listening to Christopher Skaife’s narration of his own book, I realized it is so much more than that. Skaife’s life as a Yeoman Warder and Ravenmaster would be interesting enough on it’s own merits, but the manner in which Skaife diverted his wayward youth into an honorable 24 year military service career is inspiring. To me this book is about achievement, enlightenment and respect.

1 person found this helpful

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Non-Fiction Can Be Great Fun, Too!

This is a fascinating true story all about the ravens at the Tower of London: their history, their individual stories and capers, how they came to be there, why they stayed, how they have been kept there through much effort and expense, how they affect the other residents of the tower, and the actual ravenmaster (full-time caretaker of the ravens). Whew, a very long sentence, I know. Oh, and one more thing--I am sure you will want to know why the ravenmaster feeds the foxes, too, and not just the ravens. Am I right?

I am just trying to convey that this author and ravenmaster has much to tell us and he does so in an always-interesting manner. He's an excellent narrator. His love of his job and of the ravens shines through the entire book.

You may become just as determined to meet him as you are to meet the ravens. Planning that next vacation to England yet?

3 people found this helpful