Wow. Where’d this guy come from? Keep reading and see why I’m so excited about this book. It’s nice to find a rare nugget of great writing among all the drivel…
This book has this old-timer excited about fantasy after a LONG spell of growing weary of the genre, almost to a point where I’d given up on it. However, this book brings me back to the days of truly epic fantasy that is at once enjoyable, erudite, and mature. I’m not sure the fate of this book or this author, but I hope he’s around long enough to finish the story of what I consider to be the best epic fantasy novel I’ve read in decades.
To continue my praise, the copy of this book just FLOWS…I mean, it’s written in a straightforward and plain language (like Hemingway’s style in some ways), and the cadence just seems to have you reading along like you don’t even know you’re reading. You get taken in by the story in an effortless way that really engages you with the story and the characters. That’s not to say, however, that it’s simple writing…definitely not. This book, unlike so many other fantasy novels, doesn’t leave you hating yourself for loving a story but disliking the writing so much that you’re ashamed of yourself after you’re done. The author exercises controlled and precise use of English that really colors the world and its characters in an intelligent way.
And speaking of characters, they’re all interesting, unique, and all seem relatable to me. And they’re not painted in a strict black and white, good and evil binary paradigm. Some you’ll love then hate then love again, and some you’ll hate then love then hate again. Their motivations all have a touch of humanity in them, and the fantasy setting seems to give the author the flexibility to express these human characteristics in novel ways. The cast includes some familiar yet very interesting archetypes: a hero suffering from guilt and shame; a coward who finds unknown reserves of courage (although unwillingly); and an amoral killer who transforms into something that seems to embody his true self. I’m guessing you’ll love them all as much as I do.
The plot, set in a dark and somewhat medieval world, develops smoothly over the course of the book. The author manages to effortlessly weave the story lines of each of the characters into a single thread without confusion or paradox. As the story unfolds, I was constantly surprised when I’d find out the role each character plays in what is leading up to be an epic showdown between several conflicting forces. The end of the book leaves you desperately wanting to read the next book to see how it all comes together.
I loved the magic as well. It’s done in a palatable way that doesn’t always beg the question “why doesn’t he just use his powers?” The shadow walker magic is well thought out, and it’s specific enough to lend to the story without causing the reader incredulity every time it’s used. It’s also creative and really triggered my imagination about how, when, and where these powers were used. The magic system was unique to me and this was the first time I’ve ever read anything like it.
The last thing I’ll say is that this book touches on various aspects of psychology, philosophy, and religion, but not in a haughty way. The characters all act for their own reasons and their motivations are not at all simple. Some are driven by mere greed, others by power, others by religion, and others by fear. But there’s usually something else, not entirely on the surface, that drives them, and these things are often akin to some of the struggles we all have in our own lives.
Well, that’s all I have to say for now. I never write reviews, but I was so excited about this book that I thought everyone should at least give it a go. And whether or not you’re an old fantasy dork like me, you’ll love the colorful characters, the setting, and the writing so much, I’ll bet you’ll want to write a review, too.