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Shadow of What Was Lost: 1 Paperback – 15 May 2017
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Action aplenty and an ample spattering of violence...this is a whole new world with a fresh fantasy streak.--SciFiNow on The Shadow of What Was Lost
Ingeniously plotted...Islington's natural storytelling ability provides incessant plot twists and maintains a relentless pace...A promising page-turner from a poised newcomer.--Kirkus on The Shadow of What as Lost
Islington has built a world with all the right genre elements: complex magic, terrifying threats out of legend, political intrigue, and a large cast of characters whose motivations are seldom clear. Fans of doorstop epic fantasy will not be disappointed.--Publishers Weekly on The Shadow of What Was Lost
Love The Wheel of Time? This is about to become your new favorite series.--B&N SF & Fantasy Blog on The Shadow of What Was Lost
Storytelling assurance rare for a debut . . . Fans of Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson will find much to admire.--Guardian on The Shadow of What Was Lost
The plot twists are unexpected, the world building is fascinating, and the fledgling love story is a charmer.... This sweeping and compelling epic is ripe for a sequel.--Booklist on The Shadow of What Was Lost
Will appeal to anybody looking for a coming-of-age fantasy tale with likeable characters and strong world building.--Fantasy Faction on The Shadow of What Was Lost
About the Author
- Publisher : Orbit; Reprint edition (15 May 2017)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 736 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0316274070
- ISBN-13 : 978-0316274074
- Dimensions : 15.24 x 5.72 x 23.24 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 106,076 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from Australia
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This is the first James Islington book I’ve read, and I can understand why he is widely compared to Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson – like them he is a very competent, if not really inspired, wordsmith who knows how to keep a story moving. He only gets 4 stars from me because he doesn’t have the originality or the black humour of authors like Mark Lawrence or Alex Marshall at their best, but I enjoyed the book a lot and will definitely be buying the other books in the trilogy - seeing that a trilogy has actually been finished is important to me when I decide to buy or not as I, like many others, have been burnt by authors like Rothfuss and Martin who can seemingly never finish what they’ve started.
At times it felt a little like Raymond Feist's Magician with Wirr and Davian reminding me a little of Pug and Tomas, with great destinies awaiting them both. The slow uncovering of Caeden's missing memories was somewhat of a surprise and a good cliff hanger for the 2nd book. Looking forward to reading the next two books!
On to the second book now
It's a great start to a larger epic and I'm really looking forward to the next installment.
Top reviews from other countries
It has been about a year since I read a good fantasy book that engulfed me.
Having read a ton of Brandon Sanderson, Joe Abercrombie, George R. R. Martin, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Patrick Rothfuss in my time - I am a big fantasy fan!
There is something magical about the limited knowledge Mr Islington allows the read to hold throughout this novel, having it trickled in for the reader at the right time, and not before. This book is just the first part of three (the second is already out, with third coming out Dec 2019), and it really is a great first stage in the story. Throughout there are tidbits and hints which just make you want to push on and get another chapter under your belt. I felt like I was able to engage firstly with the characters, secondly with the world and finally with the skills and abilities each type of person has - a nice order in my opinion.
Towards the end, I did get a little confused with a couple of the names, as some of the characters have a few different ones depending on where they are or who they are with. But within a few pages, there has usually been a few hints scattered in which allowed me to remember who the flippin person was that they referred to a moment ago, or who turned up out of the blue again ten pages back.
I am about to crack on with the second one, getting it well cleared before December when I know I will have a great couple of weeks before Christmas smashing through the third and final tome in this series, and yes, I will do it in no time.
If you like fantasy - it is worth a read, but if you are new to this genre, I would try Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn series first, to test the fantasy waters.
Perhaps I was reading a bit too much into the title. The story does have some of those things, but it has its flaws as well. I got a hint of that early on, in the first few pages, where the description of the setting was detailed but to me also confusing: I had no clear idea of where this was taking place, or what the layout was.
To be fair to the author, there was a lot of good stuff here. He has a wonderful creative imagination, which shows in the vivid and detailed worldbuilding, and especially in the well thought out system of 'magic'. He brings the same talents to the plot, but here they don't work so well. It is very complex, with multiple protagonists and new ones being added in all the way through. I've nothing against complex or even convoluted plotting, but there is a very fine line between complex and confusing. It is a difficult line for the author to see, I know, especially as its exact position varies according to the reader, but for me Islington strayed rather too far over it and left me wondering what was going on and who was doing it. Several times.
Another problem I had was with the characters. There are a lot of them: they are well drawn but to me lacked depth. I didn't find myself caring much about them - and in a book this long and complex, that's a bit of an issue. So is pace, and it needed to show a bit more variation and to speed up more at the climax to get me through it.
In style, it reminded me most of Robert Jordan. For fans of 'The Wheel of Time' that would probably be a big plus, but I'm not one of those. I gave up on Jordan's epic after two or three volumes and have never felt tempted to return. Overlong and a bit baggy was my impression, and that also applies here.
Overall, it wasn't a bad read, but it isn't page-turner, and several times I put it aside after a chapter or two. For many people it probably hits all the right buttons, and I expect will get a lot of five star reviews, but it didn't really do it for me. I liked it - three stars - but no more.
Will I read the rest of the trilogy? Probably not. It's just a little too much hard work for too little reward.
Though the titles are quite intriguing...
It's an interesting world created by the author with a rich history. There's an area to the north that's been bound for thousands of years with no entry in or out. Twenty years ago there was an uprising against the gifted who were in charge and most of them were killed. The few remaining were forced into a binding which severely restricted the use of magic. There are a couple of remaining schools open where all gifted are trained but they are looked down upon by the general populace and are overseen by the rulers in charge. It's into this world that our protagonists are thrown into and things start happening, secrets come to light and new secrets are discovered. Our POV's are all likeable, each with their own agency and plot with mysteries to be revealed for each. Caeden's was particularly good in that you knew almost immediately there was something big behind him and it did not disappoint.
This has been compared to the Wheel of Time and I can see why. It's got that similar feel to it, ordinary characters with the whiff of destiny on them. There are secrets, oh so many secrets, prophecies, ancient beings, a big bad, a persecuted magic wielding people, and even a Shadar Logoth type city! Having said this I still found it quite original and interesting and even if there are a fair amount of tropes present, as long as they are done well then there's a reason tropes became so in the first place. The characters are good and easy to like, though perhaps lacking a bit of depth. There's a lot hidden and a few times I was nearly as frustrated as the characters trying to figure out what was going on and who to trust. There are a lot of names and places and I found it hard to keep track of, a glossary would have been handy. I went online and found one on the author's site but unfortunately it spoiled a pretty huge reveal which was disappointing. Don't do that. Other than that I found it a very exciting and interesting book and it kept me up too late far too many times, which is always a great sign. For a debut book this is amazing and I can't wait to delve into the next one. Luckily I already bought it!
Islington writes in mountains of depth, which I didn't like at all. I enjoy fast- paced story lines, that have a couple of significant ideas and concepts going on- this keeps me engaged. Despite the depth of detail, I still couldn't quite picture the setting. I think there was too much to consume that I didn't consume anything at all or the setting was poorly described.
The POV is constantly changing, which again I did not like. Yes, it only happens every few chapters, but because the story line of each character is in depth, when you have finally started engaging in one character's story, the POV suddenly changes and you don't have time to feel what the character was feeling, you can't carry those feelings over, because then you're hit with a completely new narrative. I don't usually mind POV changes but only if they carry the story forward, not hinder one character's story to progress the other's like this novel did. Marie Lu in Legend is a fantastic example of the POV changes that I enjoy, even Eragon's POV change was better than this!
There are adrenaline releasing events that happened, which I did really enjoy reading, however the excitement is very short lived, because either they don't last very long or they last too long, and all the thrill is gone. I have to say this book did lack balance. I am a very straightforward reader, I do not like waffling at all but this book definitely enjoys waffling! The smallest of adventures takes chapters to complete- it is very underwhelming and disheartening! Everything is complicated and intertwined, which usually makes things more interesting, but in this book that only made things more boring and mundane. The book is too long, especially considering it's part of a trilogy. I would read chapters and chapters, then realise a hundred more things were to come, I didn't like this either.
I purchased the book after reading the blurb and first few chapters on Amazon, which were very gripping by the way. That's the issue though, it starts very fast paced, it's intriguing, there are new ideas and concepts, and this is all great for the first few chapters. But, you are constantly being hit with new ideas and concepts that you don't have the opportunity to settle in. There is no real, long enough pause to build a rapport with the characters, even though each main character has a great personality- they are all likeable. I like walking the journey with the characters, but that wasn't possible with this book.
I think Islington does develop each character smoothly and he doesn't rush with a romance or love interest, which was very refreshing to read. Often, in young adult books, there are very fake, swept away romances that are inauthentic and only convenient for the story line. This book did not have that.
The book was surprisingly political and historical, both of which I did not enjoy at all. I don't mind politics if it's written in the depth of the Legend series by Marie Lu. It's straight forward, easy to understand and not all consuming of the story line. With history, I like the depth of Spellslinger by Sebastian de Castell- easily understood and simple. This book was all consuming, tedious and very, very complicated. Like Eragon by Paolini, there is history too complicated and tedious to comprehend and names that are too long and difficult to pronounce and remember, so you often have to go back a few chapters to understand what they are taking about. I don't understand why Authors do this, it disengages the reader- at least I lost interest.
I purchased the entire trilogy in the same transaction, that's how much hope and excitement I had for this series, but alas I was disappointed. In the beginning of the second book, it summarises what happened in the first book, so I read that because I had no idea for the most part what was going on in the first novel. I would read something, understand it, then something long, new and complex in terms of history, politics and its name would crop up, and I wouldn't understand how it was all linked. The summary was very helpful. I wish the book was simplified, so there would be no need for a summary at the start of the second and third novel.
Huge credits for the book covers and titles, which are eye- catching and aesthetic. They would look beautiful on a book shelf.
I think this novel/ series in general could have been excellent had the author only stuck with a couple of main ideas and themes, and had its pace been significantly faster. If you are a fan of books like Legend by Marie Lu, Talon by Julie Kagawa, Spellslinger by Sebastian de Castell, Slated by Terry Teri, Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian etc then DO NOT READ THIS TRILOGY!!! However, if you enjoyed Eragon by Christopher Paolini, then you'll probably enjoy the pace, the writing style, complexity and depth of this trilogy.