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Publisher's Summary

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 themselves. 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 will befall the kingdom.

One man is personally responsible for ensuring that such a disaster never comes to pass – the Ravenmaster. The current holder of the position is Yeoman Warder Christopher Skaife, and in this fascinating, entertaining and touching book he memorably describes the ravens’ formidable intelligence, their idiosyncrasies and their occasionally wicked sense of humour.

Over the years in which he has cared for the physical and mental well-being of these remarkable birds, Christopher Skaife has come to know them like no one else. They are not the easiest of charges – as he reveals, they are much given to mischief, and their escapades have often led him into unlikely, and sometimes even undignified, situations.

Now, in the first intimate behind-the-scenes account of life with the ravens of the Tower, the Ravenmaster himself shares the folklore, history and superstitions surrounding both the birds and their home. The result is a compelling, inspiring and irreverent story that will delight and surprise anyone with an interest in British history or animal behaviour.

©2018 Christopher Skaife (P)2018 HarperCollins Publishers

Critic Reviews

"Packed with insight and anecdote, his story brings the Tower ravens to vivid life, each bird with a personality of its own. I've been fortunate enough to tour the Tower and meet the ravens a few times in years past; after reading this book, I cannot wait to go back." (George R. R. Martin)

"He is a born storyteller." (Evening Standard)

"A born storyteller with a gift for banter honed by years in the British army, Skaife has written a book that is far from a dry monograph about the species … [it is] a beguiling, fascinating, and highly amusing account of the strangely magical birds. He is making us love them in a way that makes them more than mere symbols." (Helen Macdonald, author of H is for Hawk)

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What listeners say about The Ravenmaster: My Life with the Ravens at the Tower of London

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  • Overall
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A must read for anyone who's interested in ravens

Absolutely loved this book! The history, stories and actual facts of the birds living in The Tower told by their caretaker is a splendid read. Recommending this to anyone who is interested in the peculiarities of the work of Yeoman wards and especially The Ravenmaster.

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  • T
  • 11-17-18

You'll never underestimate a raven again

5 Stars

Ever since first seeing The Crow in 2004 I've always been fascinated by ravens and my dad worked at the Tower of London as a chef at some point, likely before I was born so when I discovered this book I just had to listen to it. I expected to like it but I ended up loving it!

It's a great balanced mixture of autobiography, history of the Tower and the ravens who reside there as well as a great insight into the raven itself coverings biology and culture as well as the myths and legends surrounding the birds.

I found it fascinating, funny, intriguing, heartwarming and heartbreaking while meeting Chris, learning about how he came to work at the tower and the 7 ravens he looks after and hearing about all their adventures and misadventures together. Christopher 's love, enthusiasm and sense of humour was clear to hear in his narration and that made it a joy to listen to.

Ravens are truly fascinating birds and in some ways, capable of more human traits than the majority of us realise. This book only served to further my fascination with ravens and I hope that I'll get a chance to see them up close one day.

4 people found this helpful

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  • morguevbm
  • 10-26-18

fantastic

A brilliant insight into these wonderful birds, the ravenmasters life and the amazing tower of London.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Julie Austen
  • 10-09-18

Loved it

Brilliant insight into the life of The Ravenmaster, well written and read, entertaining to the end. Highly recommend.

1 person found this helpful

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  • sally
  • 06-16-21

unique story

comprehensive one means account of life with a bird little understood and worth knowing more about

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-08-21

one of the best books I have listened to

I loved it The Raven Master's love of story telling shines through I was glued every word

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  • Mrs L.
  • 02-05-21

Couldn't stop listening

This is SUCH fun! Chris Skaife's account of his army service and subsequent acceptance as a Yeoman Warder, and his amazing job as Ravenmaster. He is a born storyteller - essential to his job, of course - and his account of what is involved in the care of the ravens and tales about the birds themselves is lively and hugely interesting. If I hadn't started listening in the evening I'd have absorbed the whole book in one go. Smashing.

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  • Jean
  • 01-31-21

Fascinating

highly recommended, told with humour enthusiasm and love. Looking forward to visiting the Tower again and hope I get Chris as my guide

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Shannyshark
  • 12-25-20

loved it! I would highly recommend this book.

amazing tale about the Ravens and the work Chris does to care for them, fab!

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  • Libby Hall
  • 01-27-20

Wonderful book. Funny, sad and full of wisdom

It is specially nice to have the author reading his book in his own distinctive Dover-London-Thames accent. That the Ravens – and even the foxes – are treated as they are now under Skaife’s watch is very encouraging.

Maximum stars for the book itself and the narration – but only two stars for the stupid way the Audible book is set up – with an interview at the end that is tacked onto the book and included in the projected listening time and as additional chapters. It is confusing as you reach the end of the book and need not have been done in that way.

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  • E Cowie
  • 11-10-19

lovely man lovely story

absolutely bewitching. So interesting and calming. I listen to him every night and envy him