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

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  443 Ratings  ·  123 Reviews
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 Sk
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Hardcover, 256 pages
Published October 2nd 2018 by HarperCollins Publishers
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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
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
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
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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
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Montzalee Wittmann
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
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Bettie☯


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.
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
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
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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.
Melise
Jul 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I enjoyed reading this book quite a bit. It is a combination autobiography and history describing the life of the Yeoman Warder who is in charge of caring for the ravens that live at the Tower of London. He tells anecdotes about working with the birds, explains why they live at the Tower, the procedures that are used for caring for these animals and provides a lot of information about the raven itself.

As an American born and raised in Southern California, I have never had the opportunity to tour
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Joyce
Oct 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anyone who, like me, enjoys books about "stuff," fascinating, trivia-filled explorations of almost anything, won't want to pass this up. Despite having lived in London, I honestly had no knowledge of the Ravens at the Tower of London and of the legend that warns that if the ravens disappear, the tower will fall and "great harm" will befall the kingdom. Through Skaife's vast knowledge, obvious affection for his avian charges, and enthusiasm for his subject, all our questions are answered--and we ...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
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Beth
Oct 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Such an enjoyable book to read! This will be the perfect gift for someone who enjoys reading, but it's hard to figure out what they like. It's light, fun, and easy, with some history, some fascinating information about the ravens, and and a few lovely pictures. Honestly, that's the only reason I didn't give it 5 stars - I truly wish there were more pictures. I've seen some of the gorgeous ones on Twitter, and was hoping for more. However, his Twitter account is pretty neat, so it's well worth ch ...more
Julia Simpson-Urrutia
Stepping back into history is fun, but ravenmasters do not really seem to go that far back, according to Skaife's comment that he is but the sixth appointed ravenmaster at the Tower of London. I recommend this very well written book for lovers of London history because tourists who step into the Tower estate will find themselves so crowded by other tourists that they may not get as many stories as they wish--and certainly not from the ravenmaster. I liked reading about the ravens and Skaife's fr ...more
Jane Ashford
Oct 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this description of the ravens' life in the Tower and what it's like to care for them.
Monika
Oct 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, 2018
This was really just an okay read for me. The parts that were actually about the ravens were great - the stuff on his life in the army, not so much.
Brittney Foster
Aug 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was exactly what I hoped it would be - a first hand account of life as the Raven Master. Skaife mixes in history in a very accessible way, people with limited knowledge of British history will be able to follow along. He added personal anecdotes which allow the reader to establish a connection to this genuine man. He is clearly passionate about his duty in the forces and his current role now. And of course you learn about the Ravens! For one I did not know that a raven was bigger than ...more
Grrlscientist
Jun 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
review coming (as soon as i get the final version of the book so i can quote it in my review!)
Hilary Scroggie
Jul 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This was exactly the flavor of "strange corners of Britishness" that I like best.
Becky Spratford
Jun 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I reviewed this for my ALA Annual 2018 Booklist Read ’N’ Rave Panel. Details: http://raforall.blogspot.com/2018/06/...
Emma
Jul 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Told with wit and invaluable insight The Ravenmaster is a veritable treasure trove of raven lore and captivating personal tales told by a man of whom I am now frustratingly envious. Best. Job. EVER!
Heather
I've been following the author on Twitter for a while so I was familiar with his job and what it entails.  Despite that, this is still a fascinating look at the care of the ravens at the Tower of London.

If you aren't familiar with the story, there is a legend (which the author casts doubts on) that if the ravens leave the Tower of London, then England will fall.  There are seven ravens who live in the Tower.  They are free during the day to mingle with the tourists, steal food from the tourists,
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Anne Morgan
Oct 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In The Ravenmaster, we have the first behind-the-scenes, insider story of what it's like being the Ravenmaster at the Tower of London. I follow Skaife on social media and have been looking forward to reading this book for a long time- and it does not disappoint! Ravenmaster Christopher Skaife generously shares his successes and learning experiences, triumphs and tragedies, and gives readers a glimpse into his life caring for some of the most famous ravens in the world. He tells us the Story of t ...more
Toni  • Reviews & Randomness
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 read 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 surroundi
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Sara
Nov 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, non-fic
When I was in high school, I went to London and visited the Tower of London. After leaving the White Tower, I took a picture of the Queen's House, leaned against a nearby wall, and was talking to a friend when something landed very close to me and I turned to see a very large bird sitting on top of the wall. I remember being amazed at its size. Quickly after a voice called out to remain calm and move away very slowly. It was one of the Yeoman Warders who then came over and talked to my group abo ...more
Jen
Oct 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’m glad I decided on the audio book for this one. It is read by the author and the joy that he has in his job shines through. And the accent doesn’t hurt either. 🙂
Skaife goes from a young (seemly) hooligan to boy solider to Yeoman Warder. He describes each phase of his life with charm and wit.
The main thing is his genuine love for the Ravens and his job. For not being an ornithologist, Skaife has come up with some interesting innovations for the care of the birds. Made a couple of gaffes, too.
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Latkins
Jul 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent book which blends the life story of the author, with a typical day caring for the ravens and conducting tours at the Tower of London, a history of the Tower, and an examination of the behaviour of ravens. Each raven has its own personality and it's interesting to read about their various escapades. The book is fairly short and easy to get into, and Christopher Claire is an informative and affable host. Long may the ravens reign!
Julia
Oct 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It covers not only the ravens but also the Tower of London and his career. The ravens are fascinating. It's a very chatty book and very wide reaching. If you like history and birds then this is the book for you.
Karen
Oct 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
Now i really want to visit the tower.
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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
“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.” 2 likes
“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.” 1 likes
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