It’s past three AM and the sleep I’m chasing is running away from me at full pelt. What better time to start that post series I’ve always planned to get around to?
Greetings, assorted gentlepeople! My name is Hovawart, and I will be your host for the night. As a rather voracious reader, particularly in the science fiction and fantasy department, I often find myself giving out book recommendations to friends. These recommendations tend to be the latest fantastic item from the shelf, and I find myself giving the same titles and sales pitches to a variety of people. I figure that I might as well consolidate my opinion into one place for all to see. If you are a friend with similar literary tastes to whom I’ve handed this, thank you for supporting my laziness. If you have happened to wander by this particular part of the internet by chance, I can only hope I will lead you to some gems.
Today I will be putting before you a book titled The Shadow of What Was Lost, written by James Islington. Though this was published all the way back in the ancient year of 2014, it somehow escaped my hungry gaze. It is a part of a trilogy, the second book of which I have yet to obtain and the third of which is yet to be published.
The Shadow of What Was Lost is high fantasy of the highest order; if that isn’t your jam, feel free to get off the bus at this time. The book is set in a world still recovering from a great war in which the near-godlike Augurs were overthrown and eradicated. Their servants, the Gifted, were spared only after they accepted to be bound by a code of laws that greatly reduced their power. The newest generation of Gifted individuals have been born under these laws and forced to live with the deeds of their ancestors, which they are quite understandably unhappy about. Things muddle along as usual until the main character, Davian, discovers that he has inherited the powers of the Augurs. A great evil is also awakening up north, but when isn’t it in fantasy?
I have already made my mandatory jab, but I hear what you’re thinking. “Hovawart, this sounds like the most bog-standard fantasy you could present, random capitalized words for titles and all.” You would be right, but only in terms of the setting. This author’s storytelling is simply superb. It may be a slight spoiler to say this, but he is extremely fond of writing in twists. You think you know where the story is going, predict the ending, are very comfortable in your cushy chair, and then he throws a vase at you. He doesn’t let up, either, continuing to escalate in terms of furniture until finally he’s put on a set of power armor and is chucking tables your way. The twists are earned each time, so they don’t feel cheap or as if they are coming out of left field, and they just keep coming. This book is a ride until the very end.
This probably doesn’t deserve its own paragraph, for I will have to be very brief to avoid spoiling something grand. This book is one of the very few works in general to have handled time travel exceedingly well. It deserves to be mentioned, but I will say no more on the subject.
After having mentioned the setting and the plot, such as I have, I feel I would be remiss not to speak of the characters. My next statement is a wide one and I have no intention of being held to it; one may either make good characters by building excellence in the present, or by giving them an excellent story. If I might elaborate, some characters, through personality and dialogue and the mystical arts of the author, feel as if they’re about to step out of the page and join you. Others have such fascinating backstories (or futures, when time travel is involved), that you can’t help but perk up whenever they enter the scene. The characters in this book were definitely the latter to me. I do not in any way intend for this to be taken as me saying that the personalities and dialogues are sub-par; far from it. One of the other main characters has lost his memory when he is introduced, and a significant part of his story is spent slowly piecing together what few he has left and discovering more. If his past were anything short of fascinating, it could be detrimental, but fortunately it is quite the opposite. I often felt myself wanting more of his past than was provided, and I suspect that his continued quest to find himself will be a large part of the books to come. Another character’s future incarnation is constantly tinkering and guiding events, leaving me excited to see how his present self reaches that point. I’m left wanting more of their individual stories, which to me is the sign of an engaging character.
I believe I have said all that comes to mind, so I will conclude here; this book’s masterful, suspenseful storytelling and intriguing characters mean that you should go pick up this book at your earliest convenience. As for myself, I will be hunting down the sequel in hopes of continued quality and more tables thrown at my head. I bid you all farewell, and I hope that you have an excellent week.