The Ravenmaster

The Ravenmaster

My Life With the Ravens at the Tower of London

Book - 2018
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"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. 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 humor. 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. [This] is a compelling, inspiring, and irreverent story that will delight and surprise anyone with an interest in British history or animal behavior." -- Description provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, [2018]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2018
ISBN: 9780374113346
Branch Call Number: B Skaife C AUTO
Characteristics: viii, 241 pages, 8 unnumbered leaves of plates : illustrations, maps ; 22 cm


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IndyPL_EllenF Mar 16, 2019

Chris Skaife's account of his life as Yeoman Warder and Ravenmaster at the Tower of London is filled with a love of history, a love of service, and a true love of the ravens he and his team care for every day. Each bird has a personality, from Merlina, who bonded with Chris and no one else, to Munin, who constantly tests the boundaries of raven behavior, and all the others in between, who show constantly that you should never underestimate a raven's intelligence or ability to be a trickster.

Feb 14, 2019

Wonderful memoir, if for nothing else than it's such a unusual story. But it's not for nothing else! Skaife is lively and engaging and you get the sense that you're on site at the Tower and he's giving you a special tour.

Feb 14, 2019

If you like bird books, also pick up "H is for Hawk."

Feb 02, 2019

A fun memoire to read about an ordinary bloke who found his way in life via military service in the UK, and who is grateful for his life caring for the ravens in the Tower of London. I've always known birds (and ravens in particular) are much smarter than we humans think; reading this book confirms this.

Dec 31, 2018

I haven't yet read the book, but I definitely will. I have a raven of the Tower story: I was visiting the Tower in May of 2017, I saw a raven lying dead-still on the ground. Many people were curious and worried about it, and taking about a zillion photos and approaching one of the guards. He explained that this bird, (who, while he was explaining, rolled over and hopped around, then lay down again) loved the attention that playing dead got him/her (I can't recall the gender of the bird) and would do it all day, every day, to get the guards to walk over and interact with it. :)

SnoIsleLib_EmilyZ Oct 30, 2018

Ravenmaster Christopher Skaife gives a charming tour of his life experiences and time at the Tower of London, particularly in regards to his clever corvid companions and their place in British lore. This is a solid choice for Anglophiles, bird-nerds, and history fans.


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