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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

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  1,004 ratings  ·  236 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
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
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
Olive (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
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
Montzalee Wittmann
Nov 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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
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
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.
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
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
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
Nov 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, library
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
Dec 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
There are many unusual jobs in the world, and equally many unusual jobs that literally millions of people have been the benificiary of unwittingly. One is to be the keeper, guard, frequently friend, and at times, adversary of seven ravens. These are the ravens that are found in the Tower of London. No doubt if you have been a tourist to the Tower you would have seen them. If not, rest assured the ravens saw you.

What a wonderful read this book is. At once both informative in content and informal
Waverly Fitzgerald
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A charming book in a disarming voice, by the man in charge of the Tower ravens. I was as fascinated by his personal story: a somewhat delinquent adolescence, service in the British army for 22 years, a degree in anthropology as he began wondering what to do next, and then a job as a Yeoman Warder. His special task is seeing that the Tower ravens are well fed, well cared for and tucked away at night to protect them from the foxes. He tells stories about the three daily tours he leads, the ghosts ...more
Dec 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is a fascinating mix of memoir, history, and day-in-the-life of a Yeoman Warder in the Tower of London. The short chapters were well suited for my chapter-a-day nonfiction reading habit. In fact, they’re so short, I often read 2-3 a day.
It’s not terribly in-depth, and I don’t think it’s meant to be. He’s really just letting the reader look through a window into life at the Tower (the warders and their families live there), its history, and specifically, what it’s like to care for the
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
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
Jan 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this look behind the scenes at life in the Tower of London. I have followed Christopher Skaife on social media for a while, and enjoyed seeing the ravens when I visited last year. This book details his life and military career, what it's like living in the castle, and the ins and outs of caring for the ravens 365 days a year. I listened to the audiobook narrated by Mr. Skaife, and I think hearing the story in the author's own voice enhanced my enjoyment.
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.
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
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:
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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
“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.” 3 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.” 2 likes
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