Sunday, August 2, 2015

Ravens in Sarah Fine's Servants of Fate book series

I've been listening to the Servants of Fate book series written by the talented Sarah Fine. Since these audiobooks are very well performed, the story truly carries me out to the future it describes: "a broken landscape carved by environmental collapse".  The setting is a crude Boston future, where water and resources are scarce and people have a very tough time surviving. The characters are very well fleshed out and the paranormal romance story is solid. I really enjoyed these first books and I am looking forward to read the last instalment (coming sept 2015, very soon!). 

In this world, there is a family called the Ferrys, who are tasked with carrying the dead to the afterlife: once humans are “Marked” by fate, the powerful Ferrys are called to escort the vulnerable souls to either eternal bliss or unending fire and pain. In this context, you may wonder how they do the whole ferrying: with a scope, a jewel that they carry on their neck and is pretty much an intra dimension portal.  Also, they run a company called Psychopopms Incorporated - which made me smile every time I heard it, as it made sense of the trade the Ferrys have: a Psychopomp is a mediator who escorts newly deceased souls from Earth to the afterlife.

What has caught the most my attention on this series is the cultural depictions of the ravens. The scope/jewel has one carved. All the Ferrys have a tattoo of one on their back, suffused with magic and made through a ritual that marks them as a member of this tradition. I imagine how pretty they must be and how they must look!

These are some cool raven tattoos I found online:

Both from:

I have always wondered about ravens, its symbolism as a mediator animal between life and death. The anthropologist Levi-Strauss describes that as a carrion bird, ravens became associated with the dead and with lost souls. It is strange though, that since ravens are not present in my geographical location, they have some historical/literary/media traditions that even I feel familiar with. 

One clear example of how I've been exposed to these cultural depictions is in Edgar Allan Poe's poem: The Raven, here this animal is a messenger of a 'Nevermore' nature, an ever-present being that delivers sadness. 

"Tenniel-TheRaven" by John Tenniel - Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons -
When I lived in Vancouver I was exposed to a certain degree to the Pacific northwest coast native art. Particularly, Bill Reid's sculpture Raven and the First Men, located at the UBC Museum of Anthropology (I went to do grad school there, so I saw it with frequency), this was also an image that was printed in the $20 Canadian bank note (It has since changed to a new note without the raven).  

It is beautiful, and so detailed!


Recently, we have the Game of Thrones always quick messengers of good and bad news... send a raven is ever present in these books.    


I really enjoy finding in the books I read cultural depictions and allusions of historical and mythological nature.