Roberta Ann (R. A.) MacAvoy was born on the 13th of December, 1949, in Cleveland, Ohio, United States of America. Roberta is an American science fiction and fantasy writer. Roberta, as we mentioned, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, to parents Francis and Helen MacAvoy.
Roberta went to the Case Western Reserve University and acquired her Bachelor of Arts in 1971. In the period between 1975 and 1978, Roberta worked as an assistant to the financial aid officer of Columbia College of Columbia University, while between 1978 and 1982, she worked as a computer programmer at SRI International. She began writing full time in 1982.
In 1978, Roberta married Ronald Allen Cain. In the 1990s, Roberta was diagnosed with dystonia, around the time of the Lens of the World series’ publication. She has since coped with the condition and has made a return to writing, full steam ahead.
Quite a lot of Roberta’s books are focused on or have a heavy influence from Taoist and Celtic themes. In 1984, Roberta was awarded the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.
As such, we will now take a look at the best R. A. MacAvoy books.
Best R. A. MacAvoy Books
Black Dragon Book Series
- Tea with the Black Dragon, published in 1983.
- Twisting the Rope, published in 1986.
The ability that MacAvoy has with writing is a wholly tremendous one. Even the minute descriptions are filled with a very special richness. If one enjoys philosophical fiction that masterfully uses humor, settings, and characters that bleed into reality, Tea with Black Dragon and Twisting the Rope are two books that will surely slake that thirst. Roberta has a way with subtlety – it works both at a subliminal level and a direct, foreshadowing manner.
The series doesn’t follow the fantasy conventions that one might be used to. To be forthright, the elements of fantasy only remain in the background, while the essence of the story delves into and tackles matters of an emotional and higher spiritual nature. We covered this first book of the series in our standalone article, check out Tea With the Black Dragon book review.
While authors commonly deal with the power and the broader lifespan of a certain magical figure, because of their self-imposed worth in the story, MacAvoy doesn’t even try. She does, however, hint at things without being blunt or forceful with what she intends.
Also, MacAvoy doesn’t waste a word in the books; everything is purposefully chosen and used. They are the quintessential examples of what the best R. A. MacAvoy books are.
The Damiano Book Series
- Damiano, published in 1984.
- Damiano’s Lute, published in 1984.
- Raphael, published in 1984.
The series has a highly unique, idiosyncratic story. It is a true subversion of the reader’s expectations. Damiano, the main character, is the most interesting person in the world – that’s how wonderfully MacAvoy conveys him. Damiano is on a journey to do the right thing, though his methods aren’t always the most ethical.
It feels like a long time has passed since authors concerned themselves with matters of a moral or ethical nature: when is killing permitted? what is evil? what is good? and the like. MacAvoy has succeeded in making a character that is a morally-confused one, while having the book remain a delight to read.
The second book sees Damiano on his journey towards finding out what love is and what being responsible means. He has troublesome, even difficult, but all the more important choices to make. The Archangel Raphael aids Damiano as he teaches him about many things.
The final book, however, sees the death of Damiano rather early in the book. Now, we are following the Archangel Raphael after he’d fallen prey to Lucifer. Lucifer took his angelic powers. Raphael is sold as a slave. He does, however, find the beauty of mortal friendship as he acquaints himself with Djoura. A true runner-up for the best R. A. MacAvoy books.
The Book of Kells
The Book of Kells is a R. A. MacAvoy standalone novel. It was published in the year of 1985. It is one of the most well told tales that MacAvoy has penned. It even features a very intriguing twist, which we won’t spoil.
Whether it’s a fantasy or a science fiction story, we can’t really say. It’s both at the same time, but actually neither? There’s time travel, a sci-fi staple, but it doesn’t come as a result of any science, nor does it come as a product of magic or the occult. Even the historic Book of Kells comes into play in the story.
We see what life was in the year 1000 A.D. In short, it was a rather short life, a violent one, and in the general proximity of ground. We see a time that perfectly moulded a sense of mystery and intrigue, but also of beauty.
We explore and go into the intricacies of the Celtic tradition. One of the great time-travel stories out there, and it’s done in a singularly unique, effective way.
The characters are all nicely developed. We have the main characters, an absent-minded artist along with his ambitious girlfriend. They find themselves in medieval Ireland, soon after a nude, injured Irishwoman appeared at their house out of thin air. You can learn more about this wonderful novel in our The Book Of Kells review.
The story is a timeless one. Featuring everything that one is used to loving from Roberta, but also a lucid, smooth tale that doesn’t disappoint in any aspect. Truly the best R. A. MacAvoy books.
The Lens of the World Book Series
- Lens of the World, published in 1990.
- King of the Dead, published in 1991.
- The Belly of the Wolf, published in 1993.
So far as the plot goes, the story of protagonist Nazhuret is an engaging and fascinating one, it even gets utterly absorbing at points. Nazhuret is a very active character. For a large portion of the book, he is educated on what to do, and when he does set off, he finds himself doing rather odd jobs.
He becomes a farm hand, then a janitor, and even a bouncer. On his path, he meets murderers, werewolves, a dragon, he gains experience with bar fights, even makes friends with a dog. Nazhuret, as he’s writing his autobiography, refers to the king quite a lot, so that we know that something of significance is going to occur.
In the second book, however, Nazhuret sees himself and partner Arlin targeted by murderers – assassins – and even the attack that opens up the book sets the tone for the serious story. With war being stirred in a local land, Arlin and Nazhuret attempt to make peace with a certain Emperor, but the shadow of the assassins weighs on their path more and more.
The final book is probably the most multi-faceted one. We see Nazhuret in his attempt to be a scientific person in a very magical world. He is referred to as the King of the Dead in homage to a certain elder god, but Nazhuret opposes this. He is his own person, and his identity is wholly his. Perhaps the best books by R. A. MacAvoy, to date.
The Grey Horse
The Grey House is another standalone novel by R. A. MacAvoy. It was published a while back in her career, in 1987. The story is set during the late Victorian time, when the nationalism of the Irish was viewed as an obstacle for the British establishment.
Anrai is a horse trainer. Anrai is also in his seventies, right now. We see him walking home on a random day when his sight darts towards a bank above and near it a singularly grey horse.
As a horse aficionado, he goes up so as to analyze the horse. Things take a turn, however, and he finds himself on a runaway horse. Nothing bad happens, as the horse takes him home and he learns of the secret that the horse bears.
The horse is actually a Ruari MacEibhir. Ruari is a fairy man with the special ability to change between human and horse. Ruari is here so as to ask for the hand of part-fairy woman Maire.
It is one of the most charming stories that the quill of MacAvoy has written. The characters and their interrelationships are the driving force behind the plot. Some of the best books by R. A. MacAvoy that are sure to amaze readers from MacAvoy are the following: The Third Eagle, In Between, and Death and Resurrection.