The Shadow of What Was Lost by James Islington

May 2021:

Oh man I forgot so much about this, glad I decided to re-read before reading the final volume. I still think this is a very strong opening, definitely with vibes of other popular works, but it makes them its own. Even after reading the second book I still can’t figure out half of what’s going on in the background. This is both enjoyable and frustrating but certainly keeps you interested. I remember finding the second book even more confusing but hopefully it’ll be better this time. Still very much recommended.

December 2018:

This was a really enjoyable read.

Echoes of the Wheel of Time with a prologue set before the main story and characters you don’t know making pronouncements about things you don’t know about. I liked it a lot.

We then get introduced to the world via our main POV Davian, a gifted (magician) in training who can’t get magic to work for him. We have two further POV’s, Davian’s friends Wirr and Asha and a final one in a young man called Caeden, who has no memories other than the last few weeks, and who has been accused of massacring an entire village. 

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!

5 stars out of 5

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