Title: The First of Shadows
Author: Deck Matthews
Series: Riven Realm
I received a free ebook copy from the Author Via The Write Reads in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
*How do you kill a shadow?
As a raging storm descends on the Blasted Coast, the crippled young rigger, Caleb Rusk, meets a stranger on the road. Little does he know that the encounter will pull him into a conflict that threatens everything he holds dear—and change the course of his life forever.
Meanwhile, in the Capital of Taralius, a string of inexplicable deaths have captured the attention of the Ember Throne. Second Corporal Avendor Tarcoth is tasked with uncovering the truth behind a danger that could threaten the very fabric of the Realm.*
Oh this has me so torn. I both really enjoyed this book and was utterly confused in equal measures and I think this is due to one very important factor. It is trying to do too much in too small a space. The First of Shadows is best described as a High Fantasy Novella, its 140 pages long. The whole trilogy is comprised of novellas and makes up 496 pages in total. Usually the works High Fantasy and Novella don’t mix as it means as a reader we get an overwhelming amount of information with little to no time to process it and put it into context.
I do love that this we are thrown right into the action right from the beginning and the worldbuilding and magic systems seem so complex and detailed the problem is we are not given pause as readers to process that detail. There are a lot of characters and perspective shifts and I found myself a bit lost at the start of every chapter going "oh ok new person! who are they?, What do they do? What is X? Have we heard about Y?". I had to ignore a lot of terminology the writer had created with regards to the magic system just to get to the plot as very little had an explanation for us.
When I eventually got into the chapter I adored the story line. There are two/possibly three amazing threads running through the book that really captured my interest, But again they would switch very quickly and I would be lost again until I figured out who we were following and what there role was. These could have easily been broken down into separate stories and more worldbuilding introduced as I really get a feeling it is there behind the scenes we just didn’t get to experience it.
Overall, there was enough interest in the story for me to want to continue on with the other two, hopefully to find answers for my questions. Caleb’s story seems interesting enough, but for me the murder mystery in the capitol held so much intrigue and I would really like to see how that resolves and how it intertwines with Caleb in the end. I just dont see it being a 5 star read as it just doens’t have the room to flesh out the worldbuilding, magic system and character arcs.