The Shadow of What Was Lost (The Licanius Trilogy)

By James Islington

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Readers` Reviews

★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
karlo
This has all the elements of a good book. The one crucial flaw it is missing is character development. There is very little explanations or motivation behind any of the character's actions; it's almost as if they are doing what they do simply because...that's just what they do. Without the character development, everything is just a constant blur without context.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
audrey
The plot is intriguing and complex, and the characters are usually complex, realistic, and mostly believable on an individual basis. There are two annoying flaws with the writing. First, all characters speak exactly in nearly the same way, as if they all have the exact same personality, intelligence, education, class, or cultural background. It is as if the characters are copies of each other, and it is remarkable that the author did not put in work to correct this. Second, the caracters use modern, academic concepts ("process," "adrenaline," "subconscious") that should be alien to them in the pre-industrial, pre-enlightenment, feudal-like society where they live. Again, the author did not make enough effort.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
aoife dowling
the plot-- shifts. I can not count the times I think to my self --why is that? and never get an answer. why make a shadow of those who fail the test to be gifted.? obviously they can't use it, so why take the powers away? Why permit the gifted to live, if they could have killed them all? why did the gifted allow this?
on and on and on. I hate coming of age stories, young men esp. the book really lost me when the girl was abandoned to her fate. undoubtedly because young men though she could not keep up, or might get in danger. ho hum.. another young man's fantasy . bored. and even though I tried. just could not get half way though the book.
Frostborn Omnibus One :: The Shattered Crown) - The Brooding Crown :: The Bone Witch :: Book One of The Legends of the First Empire - Age of Myth :: A LitRPG Saga (Chaos Seeds Book 2) - The Land
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
handian
This could have been such a great book as the story is interesting and captivating, but it felt unfinished at times and not fully thought through. The other issue I had was that this was too much targeted for teenagers. I really think with some more thought and work this story could have played in the same league as Lord of the Rings.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
wesley ratko
My husband LOVES this book. He first read it a year ago. He has been waiting anxiously all this time for the 2nd in the series and decided to buy the hard copy of this book so he could reread it. He can't put it down! And clearly the series has been catching fire because there are nearly 800 raving reviews at this point, which is awesome! He would (and does) definitely recommend this book to anyone!!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
spela
At 600+ pages, this is a page turner well worth the price. Unlike so many books of late, the author delivers on the hype. It rivals Jordan, Brooks and other greats of the fantasy/Tolkienian genre at a more reasonable price per page. I read day and night for three days and can’t wait for book #2!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
hoda
The character development is amazing and for every question that is answered, more come to the surface. I love the take on magic use and how the world views magic users as dangerous which evokes some pretty interesting parallels to our own current world. The ending is fantastic and I can not wait to read the next book.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
jeff clarke
A poorly organized book. The author borrowed freely from Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time. I can't recommend this book--too little.is explained to make this "world " make sense. It was work to finish this book and I only did so because I couldn't leave a review otherwise.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
conner colosi
I recommend this book to people like me. People who enjoy the doorstop; a good long read. Plus an enjoyment of epic fantasy. I couldn't put the book down. There are interesting characters whose motives are not clear. The plot had interesting turns that kept me interested.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
xxilvi
A bit dizzying at first. The naming conventions left even this veteran fantasy reader unable to figure out who was who and where was where until well into the book. A bit light on the characterization -- I like my protagonists with a bit more depth -- but in the end I was gripped by the intricate plot. Occasional stumbles aside, once the momentum gets going there's a lot worth reading. Does it break any new ground? No. But it's a solid epic fantasy, particularly for a first outing. Recommended. And if I were a betting man I'd say book 2 will be even better.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
linda strawn
Thought I would give this a go, given the author is relatively local to me ( same state).
I liked the lack of sugar coating, insomuch as there are no characters that are able to win the day by discovering a hidden power. Also, the grim depiction of life where people give you the 'truth' according to their own ends.
I think that the characters could have been better fleshed out. You want to see through their eyes. Pondering reading the second.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
thejaswi parameshwaran
A decent first novel with an intriguing world. Some of the characters and the world's backstories are a bit thin, and the plot seems to rely heavily on deus ex machina, but it is still an entertaining read. I hope to see Islington build on this work and improve his writing style over time.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
scrill
I loved this book! It's very well written with good pacing, and it made me keep reading until there was no more pages left. This book has it all; exciting magic system, likable and believable protagonists with interesting personalities to grow with the progressing of the book, good worldbuilding and a mysterious enemy to shake things up for our beloved characters. I felt very satisfied through the whole book, and my expectations are usually quite high (i'm rather picky).
So if you love Brandon Sanderson's work or Jordan Roberts' wheel of time I think you will be happy with this book too.

5/5!!
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
caley clements
I am always ready to try new sci fi and fantasy books, and this sounded interesting,while not novel; boy discovers magical powers, danger to world around him, boy helps save world. There was a lot to enjoy in the book and I read the first half or so without stopping. I noticed on the way that it read rather like a book for the YA market, but who cares. I was surprised at an early mass murder, as bloody death used not to be dealt with so cavalierly, and from then on knives, scars and blood were everywhere. In the end I did not finish the book, not so much because of the blood, but because the author does not make a consistent magical universe, and overloads the amount of powers,to include shape changing, time travelling, and others.
In this work, set in a semi mediaeval world, many people have what is called a Gift , whereby they can use Essence. How this works is not defined, though gradually in the book we find out that each Gifted person has a Reserve of this power. The King has banned the use of Essence in most situations, for fear of the power the GIfted would have. There us a second kind of Gift, rarer and more feared, and bearers of this gift have been killed off for many years. All this is a good beginning, but I found the range of characters and people confusing, and the introduction of the different magics and vile beasts also inconsistent. If magic is too arbitrary, it is hard to keep up an interest.
One example (SPOILER follows) is the group of people known as Shadows. They have had their Gift forcibly taken from them, and they grow black veins on their faces to mark them. They are not bound by the King's edict as they are no longer Gifted. However it turns out that they can in fact use the Gift, and how this is possible is never explained. Throughout the book danger grows from the weakening of the Boundary, and mysteriously powerful people get through it and kill and burn everything in their path. We also meet throughout the book strange malevolent and very dangerous monsters that exist already in the 'stable' part of the world. The shape changing and body takeovers make the last half of the book difficult to follow, as there are no longer any rules. But a convincing world can be magical but needs to be bound by rules, otherwise it becomes boring. Nonetheless I give the book three stars, for the interesting first part, which did keep me up reading. It may be the next volumes in the trilogy are better, more solid,, and rounde. I I wish the author well, and maybe better editors next time.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
pia williams
Excellent book. I just finished it for the second time. It has so many things going for it! The story moves at a great pace, holding your attention easily. I tend to be an impatient reader when it comes to long descriptions of scenery, people, or anything (I skipped whole sections of The Lord of the Rings, though I loved the story) so I was pleased to find the descriptions in this book were pithy–just enough words to fire the imagination!

The main characters are intriguing, likeable and honourable without being annoyingly perfect. Davian, Wirr and Asha don't slot into stereotypes but carve unprecedented paths. Asha, in particular, was an enjoyable surprise. It seems like this charming girl is going to be casualty of a tragic storyline... but nothing turns out the way you expect. I loved the way James Islington reveals secrets about his characters. Sometimes it's subtle, piece by piece, allowing you to suspect that you know something about them that the other characters don't. There's a certain satisfaction when you're right. But then there some mind-blowers. I was utterly astounded at one of the revelations made about the main character, Davian. I never saw it coming, and yet it made so much sense. I think I stopped reading, said, 'Wow' a couple of times, and read it again.

The plot twists got the same reaction. Usually I can predict where a story is going. I like it when I'm right, but I love it when I'm wrong. This one really keeps you guessing.

The magic system in just cool. Creative, cleverly explained.

This reminds me quite a lot of 'The Name of the Wind' by Patrick Rothfuss. Both of the main characters, Davian and Kvothe, come from a 'magic school' of sorts, both are orphans, both are crazily talented but face extraordinary odds. Both stories made me forget that things like food, sleep and work are vaguely important. I just wanted to read and read.

Thank you, James Islington! I'm looking forward to the next one.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
hortencia
I really liked this book and would recommend it. Has some interesting things going on and I'm looking forward to the series. The best compliment i can give it is when book 2 is announced I'll pre-order it.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
arlene castro
Okay...lengthy, complicated. Once started I find it difficult to put a book down - its the principle of the thing. If that wasn't the case I would have put down The Shadow Of What Was Lost quickly. Mr Islington introduced the reader to a different world with a host of different terminologies and titles and expects the reader to absorb them and recognize them in their re-use. Not the case, hence the complication. I am also getting tired of "traveling" books in which the main characters spend the length of the book moving from one place to another in search of....? C'mon, let's be more clear about this! An antagonist was introduced and given inducement to be a bad guy, then that was the last we heard from him until he did his bad guy stuff. What was the point in introducing him and eliciting the reader's sympathies? In all, no, I didn't care much for this long, complex book.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
hugmewonnie
At the time of this review The Shadow Of What Was Lost had 168 - 5 star reviews. And I can't figure out why. I bought the book because of all those good reviews, I am eleven percent through and I am bored, bored, and bored with it. A book is good and fun to read or it’s not. Not is the word here. I could go into the whys, but why? Boring is boring.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
kristi perry
I am honestly trying to figure out what the five star reviewers of this book experienced. I agree that the story is very compelling, intricately plotted, and has a lot of beautiful and surprising images in it. However, the quality of the writing leaves a lot to be desired. The dialogue in particular is quite leaden, and there is no appreciable difference in voice from character to character. I can't count the number of times that the author writes "they spoke for a while" or "they talked for some time." It's as if the author didn't have enough imagination to actually write the dialogue spoken by his own characters, and had to rely on an explanation of the fact of speaking without relating any of the actual speaking the characters did. In fact much of the dialogue, and the inner monologue, consists of explanations of what's going on instead of an immersive experience of the events as they occur. The book by and large tells; it doesn't show. When I listened to it as an audiobook I regularly fell asleep and found when I woke up that I didn't particularly care what I had missed. I began using it as a way to help me fall asleep.
That said, the story is interesting enough that I gave it a second listen/read and was more interested, though my critical voice was very active as I was reading; it was not so much an enjoyable reading experience as an observational one, as I checked off story points and tried to keep track of what was going on. I do plan on reading the next volume, as I got hooked into the story. My hope is that the author will have developed some as a writer between the first and second book.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
hamish mack
This book started off great, fizzled about a quarter of the way into it. It got slow and the author tried so hard to create an epic world that IMO it just flopped. I bought the audio book for myself and couldn't get through it, bought the E-Book for my 13 yo son, he couldn't finish it either.

I really want to like this just because the first few chapters were so great, I'll probably give it another chance and will try to listen to it again. I'll update my review if my opinion changes.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
kim friedman
I would give it 5 stars if not for the obvious grammatical errors throughout the novel, still I enjoyed it immensely and I would happily recommend this book to all my friends. I mean, if i stayed awake all night to finished the book then it only means that it's really that engrossing and entertaining. Purchase , Read, and Enjoy!
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
jorge rodriguez rueda
I'm not one to write reviews, but I feel this book needs some balance in the reviews. I bought it due to the references to Brandon Sanderson, the 4.5 star rating, promising sample, and low price. Sadly, the book quickly began to grate on my nerves and finishing it was a challenge.

The premise is intriguing and in more capable hands (such as Mr. Sanderson's), it could have been a sensational read. The shortcomings I found were as follows:

(a) Wooden characters. I felt no connection to any character. The story was *about* these people, not *by* these people. We were not privy to any emotions, character development, insight, etc. No character showed any particular depth and all seemed ridiculously naive (I just met this person, but he seems trustworthy/it seems logical, so I'll believe what he is telling me...). The two minor characters I felt had most potential to be interesting - Aelric and Devia - were quickly cast aside when no longer useful. I believe in the "who's still alive" recap at the book's end, they are not even mentioned.

(b) Huge violation of show-don't-tell. Far too much of the story is advanced (to the extent that it does advance) through dialogue. "Let's have a chat wherein I'll tell you everything you need to know." YAWN. Small, valueless actions and details are included. "Davian yawned." Wow, way to let us know it's morning. "Asha turned the key in the lock." Yes, that's how keys work....

(c) Contrivances. In order to honor the over-used fantasy theme of a young boy who doesn't know he's the destined savior of the world, the unwitting main character is in the dark until a completely random event allows him to gain a lifetime of talent in a couple weeks' time. Seriously? And how about when two characters pop into the room, where our one female protagonist happens to be under cloak of invisibility, just long enough to have an Incredibly Important Conversation. And other examples that would be spoilers so will be omitted. Sigh.

(d) Overuse of certain words. In all my long years, I don't think I've ever seen anyone actually grimace. In this book, someone is grimacing practically every other page. Go ahead - ask your Kindle to search on "grimace." It will find 121 instances. 121!! Also, "screwed his (her) face up" - huh? Are these people 5 years old?

Okay, I'm going to stop here because I am getting annoyed at this book all over again. There is a good basic story here. Written in a more mature style - with depth of character, political intrigue, careful foreshadowing, and tighter writing - this book could have been quite the masterpiece truly deserving of 4.5 stars. As it is, the high rating simply leaves me baffled.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
petri
The story was interesting, as was the world. The writing was a bit weak. It has its good moments, but also a lot of new-author faults, like multiple characters sharing mannerisms ("she tapped her teeth with a fingernail" comes up a lot).

The pacing is similar to Eye of the World. If you like a moderate-to-slow story with a lot of complexity, and don't mind the odd bit of clumsy writing, you'll likely enjoy this.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
alaa elshal
This book had me hooked from the first page. There is an original interesting system of magic. Interesting storyline with great twists and intrigue. I grew to like the characters and the pacing was great. I can't wait for the next in the seriesz
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
joyce letts
The Shadow of What Was Lost

I bought this kindle book after I read a downloaded sample. I looked forward to starting it as soon as time permitted. I wanted to like it. I didn't.

Without re-summarizing the plot, which can be be read in the book's ads, the plot resembles a video game of the Dungeons and Dragons ilk. There is a heroic quest To Save the World From the Horrors.

Not much new here, so it all depends on the author's ability to weave a convincing and compelling story.

The author writes well. The world he created is vast and complex, peopled by many different factions, sects, assassins, mages, sorcerers, politicians ( maybe the most dangerous of all types) and monsters. Dungeons, treacherous friends, time rifts, forbidden cities, spectral killers all of these and more are there. Yet I realized that I was becoming bored after reading about a hundred pages into the book. Pages of dialog between the characters slowed the action, a lot of dialog, some of it in italicized spectral language.There are sub-plots and divergent threads that all had to be filled out with more talk and less action.

By three hundred pages, I knew I was bored. I put down the book, thinking that maybe if I gave myself a little R & R it would re- involve my interest. It didn't, much. Three hundred pages later, I got to the big finish which was a vivid battle against faceless hordes. Lots of magic and sorcery, might and magic causing swathes of death. Except it was not the finish because this is book one of a series. Which I will not be reading.
My review is a minority viewpoint; most reviewers at the store give the book four or five stars. I gave it two because the writing is clean and grammatical, and because he does present a complete world to explore. But it just did not work for me. Right now it sells for .99 cents, so give it a try, it might be just work for you.
Done
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
steffi
I felt that the story line was great and I also really liked that the main characters weren't super do gooders that had a moral conflict with everything.

The magic was explained well and the characters developed pretty good. My only complaint was trying to keep the people and names in line. He would mention someone in passing then give him an almost major part in the plot later, I had to go back and try and find out who the guy even was to know what all the commotion was about.

The only other thing that bothered me ( but not too much) was some characters came out of nowhere like we were supposed to know who they were. Sorry, one more...Several of the names were very similar, so again I found myself going back every now and then trying to figure out who he was talking about.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lisalou
Loved the book in audio. I found it engaging and even tempered. I should explain that I do not read to judge but to be entertained so I am an easy grader, but I took the time to make sure I would finish the series.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
kelly magee
I struggled between 1 and 2 stars with this book, but ultimately ended up with the 2-star rating. This was a Kindle First pick for me, and I have to say, I'm glad I didn't pay for it.

The beginning couple of chapters were interesting but hard to follow. There were so many names thrown out there -- characters and places -- that it became difficult to keep up with who was who, and what or where the author was talking about it.

As the story developed, the characters did not. I felt myself not feeling anything for them. Also, there were a couple of characters who came in to the story and seemed to be major players, but they disappeared very quickly. That was frustrating.

I was bored with the book until about halfway through, when the author introduced a time travel element. Unfortunately, the characters remained somewhat uncompelling.

Another thing that kinda of annoyed was that the author kept having characters tap their teeth with a fingernail when in thought. That seemed like a weird thing to do. Does anyone really do that? I can see that might be a trait or habit of one character, but I counted three that did it.

On the good side, there is no cursing, no graphic violence, and the romances are modest and chaste. The main characters -- Davian, Caeden, Wirr and Asha -- are courageous, loyal, and brave. They protect each other, even at their own expense.

I rarely give up on a book, even if I don't really like it, and I finished this one, too. The story is a trilogy so it's no surprise that it ended on a cliffhanger. I am mildly interested to know what's going to happen, but not nearly enough to invest time or money to find out
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
diskojoe
Concrete description is extremely rare in this book. Only one and a half characters are more than one-dimensional. You'll be crossing a cultural void across predictable bridges created via multiple McGuffins to a cliché large battle at the end. I found multiple instances of editing so poor that I think the editor should be fired.. The only reason I didn't give this one star is because it's the author's first book.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
adnan kamacheh
I was looking for something lighter than what I had been reading (Steven Erikson). This was certainly that. I think I only finished it because I had paid for it. I knew going in that the plot wasn't very original, but that doesn't matter if characters are good. Unfortunately, all the characters were shallow. They were all the same person with different names. The adults acted just like the teens. I'm just glad it's over and I can move on to a book written with skill.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
heather truett
Started fantasy reading with Dan Simmons and Brandon Sanderson. This is lacking not developing characters, seems to rush forward without building a world to capture and hold intrigue...made it to chapter 10 and moved on.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
nelson dino
Not terribly executed, simply HIGHLY derivative.

This alone most probably explains the multitude of high ratings for this book. I would guess such ratings are from people with little experience of established work within the epic fantasy genre. I'm glad they have found a book that they deeply connect with; after all, this is what we all read for. We all start somewhere, and our experiences are defined by those past. I still vividly remember the series I first connected with, and I wouldn't rob anyone of that deeply personal experience.

Still, this author flirts with the concept of plagiarism in a rather flippant manner. Think of this book as more of a remix/megamix than an original work. This track isn't bad, its just heavily sampling source material. Of course all fantasy works are derivative to some extent, but if you aren't new to the genre of epic fantasy or place value in originality, there simply isn't much worthy of recommending this title over the canonical works of the genre.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
harris
After reading comparisons to Robert Jordan, I decided to read this book. Before the eighty pages I struggled through, it had become clear that Islington's characters come nowhere close to the emotional and plausible depths of Jordan's. A scenario in which a student that has lived in the same region for almost all of his life suddenly has the worldly ability to outsmart a seasoned smuggler is hard to believe. Davian's accidental magic to make the smuggler forget an object presents a simplicity that does not ring true when one considers that intention and knowledge are generally required for magic or any other ability to occur. Islington's world does not even remotely represent the scope of Jordan's in terms of history, religion, cultural values, systems of magic, geography, and other aspects. The writing styles are completely different as well. While Jordan captured a poetic prose, delved deep into realistic character thoughts, and used intensive descriptions to make his world come alive, Islington commonly utilizes a passive voice which makes the narrative voice distant and his descriptions are very basic. Jordan would never have published anything as poorly edited as The Shadow of What was Lost, in which the writer refers repeatedly to various different characters who raise their eyebrows frequently and repeated silences during conversations - "There was silence." . . . companionable silence," etc. Not only did these silences occur so often that they stood out as redundant, silence almost never actually exists. The only real similarities to this book and the Wheel of Time is that Islington chose to include Jordan's Aryth Ocean and both can be considered fantasy. I can only conclude that this association had roots in sales tactics. I certainly feel swindled and will not rely on reviews from the Guardian or Barnes and Noble again.
All of that said, with another five years or so of practice and attention to the craft, I think Islington could write fantasy worth reading. For now, I would recommend those looking for good reads to try Michael J. Sullivan or Intisar Khanani's Sunbolt.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
susan howson
Author James Islington makes no secret of the fact that he has been deeply inspired by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson. (Nothing wrong with that; heck, I'm inspired by them and I just read the books.) So, it should come as no surprise that this book has a "Wheel of Time" feel to it. It isn't a copy; it isn't fan fiction; it isn't an "homage". But it is clearly and unabashedly in the "Wheel of Time" style.

Short summary with MILD SPOILERS, but not worse than the jacket blurbs: the Augurs had crazy head-trip powers and were served by the Gifted. Augurs were wiped out many years previous to the time of this story by a rebellion and the Gifted were forced into obedient submission. Our young Gifted heroes are good guys, but one may be an Augur reborn. Now, new villains threaten everyone - rebels and Gifted alike. Off we go on various quests, including a quest to understand the Essence that powers the Gifted's gifts.

See what I mean about the "Wheel of Time" comparisons?

But here's the thing. All three heroes are engaging, resourceful and personable. They are at least as interesting and companionable as the heroes gathered up in "The Eye of the World". And the whole Augur/Gifted/Essence thing is interesting and well crafted without being massively complicated. Plus, there are bunches of secondary characters who are variously funny, appealing, touching, or intriguing. This is a big canvas sort of project and the author pulls it off.

I know this is heresy, but there were times when I wished that an editor had reigned Jordan in a little bit, or had pared away some of his sub-plots. Well, this volume, (one of a planned trilogy), weighs in at almost 700 pages, so despite its length it still qualifies as short compared to WoT. That makes it a fun and entertaining mini-WoT that has enough imagination, action, energy, character and personality to be welcome at the table.

This volume zips along at a good pace, but not at the expense of clarity and character building. Background information is not withheld beyond reason, so the reader can follow the action without unnecessary confusion. Dialogue is natural and most character reactions seem sound and authentic. The author has no odd tics or stylistic mannerisms that annoy the reader or distract from the tale. The overall effect is a bit younger than WoT, (I'd call this YA that an adult could enjoy).

On balance, this is an earnest, honest, and well crafted tale. It's a fun read and a nice find. Certainly seems to be worth a look.

Please note that I found this book while browsing the store KindleUnlimited freebies. I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
francine oliveira
The story is engaging, but the author has a tough time with grammar and style. Nearly every character in the book 'raised an eyebrow at someone else.' people really do have other expressions. he uses the word 'almost' in 'almost' every descriptive phrase - which dilutes even the best description. The most ridiculous use of almost - almost utter darkness - utter darkness is absolute. To describe utter darkness as 'almost' is so weak. Please learn when to use an objective pronoun. Let's not even get into split infinitives. Grammar needs only be good enough not to impede the narrative. I do like the plot, though I felt certain situations remained unnecessarily unclear.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
thomas nicholson
I found the book to be pretty predictable while remaining entertaining. The reason I'm dropping it to three stars is the switching between third and first person with no real break or warning. One line you're reading an outside perspective and the next sentence is from the author's point of view. While not necessarily confusing, it takes a bit of getting used to and is pretty awkward.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
gremlin
In 3 words. Too many characters.
To me, it read like an endless procession of names appearing out of nowhere, performing a crucial task and vanishing never to be seen again Sometimes a character would be tagging along without ever participating in the action until out of nowhere, after forgetting him/her for 5 chapters, she shoots someone in the head, and you say to yourself "who??... Oh yeah.... Her....huh..."

Seemed every other page a new guy would show up to push the story along. No reason, no motivation... I did not care.
In fact, I kinda gave up about 60% through. Couldn't care.

If like me, you're not that good remembering names, this book is not for you.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
vicki
Epic.

If i had to use one word to describe this book, "epic" would do. While perusing the new book releases, this book and its cover caught my eye so I decided to buy it on whim.

The author describes his inspirations to be Jordan, Feist, and Sanderson, and their influences do come through in Mr. Islington's prose. Nevertheless, his unique voice wins out and he is able to enflesh a tale of heroism, tragedy, and exploration.

The story is told from multiple viewpoints, including that of young naive Davian, the "plucky" sidekick Wirr, and their strong-willed and competent friend Asha. Nominally, the story focuses on the travails of these 3 young adults as they traverse a hostile world, fraught with terror and discrimination against them by virtue of them being magically Gifted. However, we are also portioned out piecemeal the story of a mysterious young man named Caeden who falls in amongst them and may yet be a friend or foe. The characters are eminently likeable, yet flawed and believable. Surprisingly, the supporting cast itself plays a large role in pushing forward the story, never feeling superfluous or tacked on. The villains themselves do remain shrouded in secrecy and I do feel they could have been brought more into the forefront. With regard to the worldbuilding, the depths to which the author describes various locales in the book (for example an ancient and forgotten city) helps with immersion, letting one's imagination fill in the blanks of the dark environs surrounding our young travelers as they move on. At the end of the book, there is no easy deus ex machina to resolve the climax and we are left wanting more.

The writing flows smoothly, the grammar stays sharp with no errors that I could easily discern, and the tome itself is quite dense, clocking in at almost 700 Kindle pages. I read the book in one sitting and needless to say, I was quite bleary-eyed at work today.

I do not regret doing so and my only complaint thus far is that I finished the book too soon, and now have to wait for the next book in the series.

Bravo, Mr. Islington, and I look forward to the next book in the series.

5 stars

-Q
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
harriet parkinson
Meh, it was so-so story-wise. I probably would have stuck with it longer and rated it higher, but the fact that the author was constantly using hyphens instead of em-dashes was driving me absolutely nuts. I wouldn't have expected that to bother me as much as it did, but once I noticed it, I couldn't stop seeing it.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
chiquitahannah
Very easy to get into,and was compelling to start. Characters got a bit mixed up and hard to identify about halfway through.
Still worth persisting with - I'll probably read the sequel when it comes out.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
jrock r
The book was just okay. The plot seemed familiar. There seemed to be too many characters and they aren't well developed. It also seemed the author tried to implement quantum physics and black holes into a Midevel settting. I don't think I will read the next two in the planned triology.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
francesc
The author has cited Robert Jordan as inspiration. Unfortunately it shows. The characters are mostly cardboard cutouts and storyline isn't exactly original. Ancient evil and all that. Not going to continue.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
maren madsen
I just couldn't get into this book. I felt like the rules of this created world didn't really make much sense to me. Not confusing necessarily but odd with lots of convenient holes in the rules that made the story. I applaud the efforts of anyone who can write a novel and I am sure there is an audience out there for this book. Just wasn't for me.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
arlene lafosse
I really, really study a book's reputation before I buy it. I check reviews. I try a sample. I goofed. I should have read the negative reviews before purchasing this one. On the plus side, because there always is a plus side, the author is very imaginative and determined to create a detailed world. The flip side of that is that everything, every person, every place, every group through history, is named -- to the point that I eventually stopped caring if this was someone (place,group, etc.) I had run across before. I eventually stopped caring period. I couldn't even finish it and I tried. An author with this much imagination really should have a tougher editor. And about the characters -- having three main characters who don't have access to their memories is a bit much. Having morally ambiguous characters is acceptable, but way too many of these are impossible to judge. Multiple versions of a single action show totally divergent motivations and personality; heck, the character himself may not even know the truth (that no memory thing). I wish it had lived up to its promise.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
laura leigh
Generally I only write a review if something I feel compelled to either warn folks away from complete garbage, or flag them over for an amazing read. This book falls easily into that second category.

I have been reading epic fantasy all my life (which, sadly, is a significant amount of time) and I have seen many, many books from so called seasoned authors not worth the money I paid for them (pre-kindle), and even some not worth the $0.00 kindle edition price, having felt my IQ drop for having opened them in the first place.

This book is quite easily the best debut work I have ever had the pleasure to read. Never once in all of these chapters did I feel that this was a debut book from a brand new author. In fact, I had to re-check several times to make sure there were no other books from this guy that I was missing. The story, the plot, the world, the characters, every element of this book felt masterfully crafted by a true master of the story telling craft.

On top of it being a wonderful story though (some may find this to be of little importance, but in my opinion it can make or break a book AND it's author) there were very few, if any, irritating writing errors, like misused words, or poorly edited lines, or bad punctuation. This is the most distracting thing of the digital book era by far. But this author manages to avoid all of that mess. Which shows that not only does he enjoy telling the story, but he respects the craft as well.

Thank you Mr. James Islington, my hat is off to you sir. I eagerly await book 2, book 3, and whatever else you may have coming our way in the future.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
brandi brocato
I had a difficult time finishing this book. The plot was pretty solid; Davian was probably the most believable character, and there was some nice world-building.

The problem is that 15% of the way in, this got really, really boring. Part of this it due to repeating some characters' backgrounds to the point of complete absurdity (way too much exposition that had already been gone over,) and part of it was just the cardboard characters. Here's the older, wiser guardian soldier. Here's a stern headmaster, and here's one that everybody loves. Here's the beautiful princess. Here's the teenager who had no idea he was so awesome. And let's not get started on Torin/Wirr, the guy who excels at everything he touches.

I guess this is fine for YA fiction and your expectations are low, but comparing him to Sanderson is a laugh.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
soren sondergaard
The cover says "If you like Robert Jordan.. You'll like this" and they aren't wrong. In fact, at times I felt like I was reading Robert Jordan's story from the Wheel of Time. However, it was still an enjoyable tale with interesting characters and plot twists.

The book flew by. It's exceptionally easy to read. I have some "niggles" about the book where things are too easy and too clean - but it was still a decent story and I'll certainly read the remainder of the series to see how it concludes. I'm particularly glad it promises to be a Trilogy and not an epic saga. I don't know if I would be as interested in 14 volumes.

Even though the basic story seems to be "a group of teen-aged friends, are, coincidentally really special and are set on a task to save the world from an ancient evil that is trying to escape a magical trap" the story is unique enough that you should enjoy it.

The three primary characters, Davian, Ashe, and Wirr, are all well written, interesting, and likable. The "2nd billing" characters are also interesting though, for the most part, Islington doesn't seem to be really interested in making any character super "unlikable". Even when he starts out with a petty brat the petty brat fairly quickly evolves into a decent guy. Other attempts at caustic characters are also resolved a bit too quickly for my liking.

The mysterious Caeden promises to be the most interesting story-line in the book as bits and pieces of who he is get slowly revealed throughout the story. The foreshadowing is often pretty obvious but it doesn't really detract from the story.

I'd probably really rate this at 3.75 instead of 4 stars but don't want to punish it with a 3.

I think to really improve the series Islington needs to make it feel like the characters really "feel" their hardships. So far even horrific things just seem to be emotionally easy for each to deal with and extraordinary challenges are resolved a bit too simply and conveniently.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
donita
I’m always on the lookout for a good classic fantasy series. While I’m glad that so many books these days are not following the “hero’s journey of a secretly powerful young farmboy as the Dark One rises in a vaguely medieval world” trope, that trope is what got me into fantasy and it’s still my first love. It’s getting harder to write good books with that storyline, though – they end up being too clichéd, or too dark, or the characters are too wooden. When I read that The Shadow of What Was Lost was inspired by the Wheel of Time and Brandon Sanderson’s work (both of which I turn to for comfort reading), I was pretty excited to read it.

The Shadow of What Was Lost follows a group of three friends at a school for the Gifted (magic users) – Davian, Wirr, and Asha. Tragedy strikes and the friends become separated – Davian and Wirr on their way north on a quest they barely understand, and Asha taken to the royal capital determined to find out the truth of what happened. And the Boundary keeping out an ancient evil sorcerer and his hordes of evil creatures is starting to fail, and it doesn’t seem like it’s happening naturally.

I really enjoyed reading this book. It has an detailed world, interesting complementary magic (kind of like Robin Hobb’s Skill and Wit), and I cared about the characters. It isn’t entirely original (the Wheel of Time inspirations are occasionally pretty obvious), but the author puts his own spin on things and there were quite a few surprises as well. I liked that even though there were a few obvious Evil elements, most of the characters ended up having realistic motivations and things that seemed pretty black and white when they were introduced ended up have more depth to them. The author also doesn’t drag plot points on for very long – even if there are a few things that the reader learns that the characters don’t know yet, the characters find out within a few chapters (unlike the Wheel of Time; it’s excruciating when characters make decisions based on information we know to be incorrect as of a few books ago.)

I can’t wait to read book 2, An Echo of Things to Come, which should be released next year. I’m a little disappointed that the series is only planned to be a trilogy, I feel like the world and the characters are interesting enough to sustain a few more books.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
kitty wu
Davian, like many of the Gifted students at the school in Caladel, was worried about the upcoming Trials. It is the moment when he finds, along with his closest friends, if they have the power to use Essence or if they will be doomed to live as Shadows. Even though life is difficult in the Kingdom of Andarra for the Gifted, limited as they are by the conditions of the treaty that controls their powers, being a Shadow is a far worse fate.

A 15-year-old orphan who was raised at the school, Davian has never shown promise harnessing or controlling Essence. However, before the Trials can begin, he meets a stranger named Ilseth Tenvar who will set him off on a dangerous journey that will take him across the land, and in and out of time, in preparation for a coming war of good and evil. The hardest part for Davian and his comrades, though, will be figuring out who they can trust in a landscape of dark power and hidden motives. So begins James Islington’s THE SHADOW OF WHAT WAS LOST, the opening volume in his Licanius Trilogy.

At the start of the novel, Davian is an innocent. He is innocent even of the memory of the infamous attack he was the victim of three years earlier. But upon leaving the school with his best friend Wirr, and leaving behind another friend, Asha, he embarks on not just a great and terrible adventure, but on a swift path to adulthood.

Islington’s world is not dissimilar to many in the fantasy genre: vaguely medieval and tinged with an ancient magic. Familiar as well would be many of the plot points as kings, wardens and shadowy figures vie for political control. Davian, Wirr and Asha, each with his or her own secrets and surprises, are separated and reunited, and separated again, as the action draws them in different directions. Loyalties are tested repeatedly as the first battle between the citizens of Andarra and the brutal army called The Blind begins to rage. Will Wirr’s power and diplomacy secure a victory for his people and a newfound freedom for the Gifted? Will Asha’s magical battle plans help her friends? What role does Davian play in the current tensions and in what is to come? And how are Davian and Caeden, a young man accused of a massacre, connected to the 2000-year-old evil adversary called Aarkein Devaed?

THE SHADOW OF WHAT WAS LOST is an engrossing fantasy debut. Though occasionally the names and places in the novel are an obstacle to a good flow, the twisting and complex storylines, fascinating characters and inventive magic make for a fun read packed with plenty of mystery. Thankfully it lacks any of the requisite romance found in so many fantasy novels, and for the most part the main characters feel like real, albeit extraordinary, teenagers. In fact, though there is a good bit of violence, this is a book that could easily find a YA audience as well.

Despite some flat and dull spots, THE SHADOW OF WHAT WAS LOST is a solid book, and Islington will have a chance to smooth out the narrative and stylistic bumps in the next two installments of the trilogy.

Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
svenja
The cover blurb comparing it to the Wheel of Time is spot on - this is clearly indebted to the best, and worst, of Robert Jordan's (and Brandon Sanderson's) epic saga. One might be tempted to say it is a little too indebted as the story, characters, and world feel are going to feel like deja vu for readers of Jordan and Sanderson. This is generic epic fantasy in the 'American' epic tradition, but it also manages to show promise that it could evolve to be something more in future volumes.

Mild spoilers follow.

It is worth beginning by just acknowledging the level of indebtedness of the story to WoT. It is found in the world design (ancient evil who has faded into myth sealed in the far north by weakening magic barrier, powerful kingdom in middle of continent focus of story), settings (abandoned city with terror in the fog in its midst, remote bucolic locale at edge of said powerful kingdom where characters grow up before they are forced away), characters (literally three male and one female ta'veren, including Rand, plus eerily familiar assorted secondary characters, although sadly no Thom), down to magical objects (angreal and heck even Callandor makes an appearance).

What is missing here is the depth of the world built by Jordan, acknowledging this is the first volume in the series. That being said, the book covers a lot of pages, but remarkably little actually gets said about the world, especially beyond Andarra/Andor. We know virtually nothing of the warring houses within Andarra, despite their supposedly being a major factor in the politics of the kingdom. We know next to nothing about the religious structure/whatever the Administrators/Children of Light are. Much like Sanderson's Way of Kings (the other obvious comparison), the details we do get are contained in a riveting infodump of a final third.

The magic system, but for the interesting restriction on the wielders, is standard stuff. In fact, everything feels very standard fair epic fantasy-wise, except when things really start rolling in the final third. I return to this point because this is what sells the book - slog through the middle and you are rewarded with some genuine twists and a great setup for the rest of the trilogy. The pacing is clearly uneven and the book is overly long, ala Jordan and Sanderson, but when things pick up, they really do pick up.

The main three male characters/ta'veren follow fairly standard fantasy tropes, with a female pov character thrown in for good measure. No one experiences anything resembling growth in the emotional sense, although big fantasy things happen to everyone. Perhaps most frustratingly, the 'everyone kinda just pairs up with their obvious attractive counterpart' trope common to this style of epic fantasy is present here to some degree. Islington manages what I have come to think of as 'Sanderson depth' of demonstrated feelings - a fairly chaste affair of blushes and lingering hugs. There is also a hint of Sanderson in the brief forays into freshman philosophy that are thankfully brief in comparison. The supporting cast are all reasonably interesting, although the full depth of their stories is only teased at, but in a way that really leaves the reader wanting to follow through.

I am left torn. If you are looking for something to fill the gap between Sanderson releases and/or you have finished the Wheel of Time and want something that feels similar, this is going to be right up your alley. Is it as good as Jordan or Sanderson at their best? No, but it has the potential to be - I myself will be reading the second book, albeit in the hopes it manages something fresh. If it remains a retread of the well worn rut of American epic fantasy, then that will be as far as I go. If you are already tired of this rut, this book is not for you. Pace other reviews, this is not ambitious or innovative, but neither is it bad.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sonja isaacson
I have never heard of James Islington before listening to this book. However, I had a credit in my Audible membership to spend and have already gotten every audio book I wanted at that time. The comments on Audible were favorable and there were some comparisons to Brandon Sanderson (my current favorite author) so I thought I would give this book a chance. The fact that the audiobook was read by Michael Kramer (one of my favorite readers after he did the WoT series) sealed the deal. I am very glad I did. This book is amazing!

The storyline is intriguing with plenty of surprises, It managed to keep me on edge and I found it difficult to stop listening and always wanted "just one chapter more". I hate reading spoilers in reviews so I will not divulge details on the plot.

The book is not perfect, however. The world and magic system are not particularly original and the pacing could have been better. The main characters felt under-developed. Even after finishing the book, I did not feel an emotional attachment to the characters.

James Islington is no Brandon Sanderson (at least, not yet :} ). So why the 5 stars? Despite its various shortcomings, this is still an excellent book. I have read thousands of books and listened to about a hundred (that's roughly the size of my audiobook collection). To me, the acid test of a good book is whether I would read or listen to it again. An excellent book is one which makes me want to search out other books by the same author.

Well, I just finished listening to the book over the weekend and have already decided to start over again in a couple of days, time permitting. What I immediately did was to search the store for book 2 of this trilogy. Hmmm ... not out yet. Never mind, I searched for other books by James Islington. Zip. Nada. This was a debut novel!! I was amazed. The book was so good that I had forgotten that this was the author's debut novel.

Some online sleuthing revealed that book 2 "An Echo of Things to Come" is at the second draft stage so hopefully, I can lay my hands on it before the end of the year.

If you are still reading this long rambling review, stop, go away and buy the book. Now! :)
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kris erickson
This book is the beginning of what I believe to be an amazing upcoming series. I was introduced to it by an acquaintance who knew I loved the epic fantasy genre. I am currently waiting for Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson and Doors of Stone by Patrick Rothfuss so I was hesitant to begin another trilogy that has yet to have its final installment, but he pushed me and I relented. I am so glad I did.

Islington creates likable characters who aren't necessarily black/white. Much like Logan Ninefingers and Glokta in Joe Abercrombie's 'First Law' trilogy (also highly recommended). The book begins and ends with enough mystery to keep you hooked, but not enough that to leave you drowning in unknowns.

I am partway through book two: An Echo of Things to Come and I can already tell that it will be just as fulfilling, if not more so, that book 1. I highly recommend this series to anyone who enjoys immersing themselves in a new world and walking alongside characters in their adventures.

Islington is an author whom I look forward to following for (hopefully) many more books.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
vincent atd
I read a LOT of fantasy. I don't review a lot but lately I have round some really good books that I had just picked up while waiting for releases from other authors I am waiting on. Out of those really good books, this was the best. I was very impressed with this book. There are layers upon layers to the story. I believe I read that the author liked the style of Robert Jordan, GRRM, etc.. I was wary starting this book because I hadn't heard anything about it, but this is every bit as good as early Robert Jordan. In my opinion (and I was a huge fan of early Jordan) this may be even better. More action, more going on in the back ground. This is the first book in this trilogy so I will hold off on gushing further, but if you like epic fantasy give this a shot. You will not be disappointed. I am very much anticipating the next book, and if the series continues at this level of quality I will have another top author to add to my expanding list. Honestly, if the series continues at this level James Islington will be in my top authors with others like Steven Erickson, Joe Abercrombie, GRRM, etc.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jillybean
I liked the book a lot. It has too many shades of other famous fantasy series to feel like it was very original (i.e., magic system is like WoT; ancient wall eroding with demons slipping through is like Shannara, etc.). But it was a fast read, well paced, good action, and mercifully low amounts of gratuitous sex and anachronistic swear words. I don't want to do spoilers, but the main arc is quite good.

The star gets knocked off for the simple but somewhat troubling reason that I couldn't distinguish any of the characters from each other in their personalities or speech. They all. sound. the. same. So I would actually sometimes get confused as to which character was which. Anyway, I'm looking forward to book two.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
rachel crabtree
James Islington's debut "The Shadow of What Was Lost" does a better job with epic sword-and-sorcery fantasy than many established authors. While there's valid criticism to be made about his worldbuilding, characters, and writing skills, above all else it has an interesting plot that keeps moving, something that often gets overlooked by those far more experienced. That's enough to give 4 stars.

There's plenty of derivative, cookie cutter fantasy out there, and self-publishing has made it far worse. It's probably fair to say that much of what gets put out on the store for free is worth precisely that price.

The Shadow of What Was Lost certainly doesn't break new ground as it falls in the vein of the authors that Islington admires, but he's come up with an inventive enough plot so that it definitely rises above that. Essentially, it's a coming of age story that brings in ancient evil, youth gaining power to fight the evil, and a setting that isn't entirely friendly to the good guys.

Islington is certainly raw as a writer. There's far too much tell rather than show although at least it's generally done in dialogue rather than infodumps, the worldbuilding at times stretches belief, and the characters don't offer anything particularly special along with far too many showing up during the book. That said, it's also fair to give Islington the benefit of the doubt here; plenty of skilled writers have been far more egregious, and as long as he keeps the plot rolling (and he does), it's not as bad as it could be. There are also a few nifty plot reveals towards the conclusion, and as they're played relatively close to the vest it adds to the book.

There's enough here to hope that the sequel will move from pretty good to excellent as Islington learns his craft. 4 stars, and it's something worth trying out.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
myfanwy
Would I recommend this book? Absolutely. Strongly.

This book has intrigue, good writing, good dialog, relatable characters, world-building, originality. It does not have sudden and unexpected events that solve big problems in one page, characters that do things that make you think "Why would they do that?!? Stupid! C'mon!!!"

For me, this book is head and shoulders above most other fantasy books I read, especially many of the ebooks that are published these days. The writing is very engaging - accessible, but not simplistic. It was hard for me to put down. The author writes from the perspective of different characters at different times, but it was not irritating, as it can sometimes be. The world and plot are creative and original. The author introduces you to the world slowly as the story progresses. I was not annoyed by the characters' dialog or actions, as is too often the case. Everything made sense. Well, not everything. Some things don't make sense simply because the author has not provided enough information yet, so you're just left waiting to find out more. Mysteries abound in this book.

Why not 5 stars? This is the first book in a series, and I am reluctant to give a book 5 stars without knowing how the story ends. There have been too many times that the ending of a series has left me disappointed. There is so much intrigue in this book that I am a bit fearful that the author will not be able to satisfactorily resolve everything. If he does pull it off, this may end up being one of my favorite fantasy series of all time.

Everyone has different tastes, and you may not like what I like. So here are some other books I have enjoyed. Hopefully this will help you determine if this review is relevant to you.

The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings
The Wheel of Time series
The Bartimaeus books (SOOOOO good)
The Golden Compass (loved the 1st book; profoundly disappointed in the series by the end)

I am not particularly a fan of Brandon Sanderson, but I suspect his fans will enjoy this book.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
kate buford
I rarely put down a book before I finish it, however in this case I did. About 25% of the way through the book it hadn't grabbed me at all. The characters were so ill defined that I never got invested in them, nor did I have any idea where the story was headed. New ideas, magical artifacts, magical rules and characters were still being added to the plot which was plodding along at a slow pace. I completely lost patience with the whole affair. This one was not for me.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
chris whitebell
As others have said, this is clearly inspired by Wheel of Time, and not in a bad way. Sometimes, like a cupcake in the midst of a diet, it has me wanting to throw my life away and feast on WoT again from the beginning. It makes you miss WoT, which is either a sign of its quality or a sign that it's not quite as good as you wish it could be.

That being said, I think it's quite good. Other than the WoT homage, it's not cliche at all -- it constantly surprises you with the direction the plot takes and how the characters develop. Not long ago I reviewed a book where every piece of information you learn turns out to be a lie within ten pages, which makes you stop caring about the "big reveals" after too long. This book does not fall into that trap -- it spins character development out over a long time and lets actions speak louder than words.

Though there is really only one major female character, she is at least a fully-developed character and a heroine in her own right, and not in a way that's just throwing us girls a bone while her story is really about her development as a love interest. I appreciate that. I hope the author adds some more real women as the series progresses.

I'm looking forward to the sequel!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
anees
I have not enjoyed a book this much in a long time.

Th Shadow of What Was Lost is a fantasy set in a world where magic is restricted because it has hurt many people. The problem is, now the boundary that holds back the darkness of evil is deteriorating and there's no power strong enough to stop it. At least, no power that's not held in check by the laws that bind it.

This story is told from multiple perspectives, delivering a well-developed world and a plot that is realistically unpredictable. One of the reviews says you'll love it if you like Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. This is true. You will also love it if you're a fan of Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series.

Highly recommended for all who love epic fantasy.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
chris leahy
Though one can trace the influence of his acknowledged influences, Islington has created an engaging and enthral ling new series. His characters are believable, the world building is great, and he keeps the mysteries coming. I enjoy series that don't end of a cliff hanger, but bring one episode to its conclusion. Still, it ends with a revelation that makes the reader hold her breathe as to the forces that will be brought to bear on further narratives. and although romances are quietly blossoming, some seemingly impossible, they are not the core of the narrative, though they are central to the being of each character. And it refreshing when characters are not driven by libido constantly and explicitly. Islington is right up there with Robert Jordan and David and Leigh Eddings. Whether he will be up there with Brandon Sanderson, who seems to be able to turn his hand to so many genres and styles, waits to be seen. Off to buy the second volume.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
hillary britt
I really wanted to enjoy this book. There were a lot of interesting things happening, and enticing mysteries and a fascinating world. Unfortunately, despite deliberately trying to look past the writing flaws, eventually they just piled on too high. The prose was wordy, the dialog stilted, and the result was the charges and their environment just didn't come to life. As a reader, I was constantly distracted from the story by the words, and that is a terrible thing for a book to do.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ryan phillips
Derivative in the best way. Some influences are most obvious than others but Islington manages to create a nice story within the crowd of the coming of age in a magical school style. I thought I'd tired on sort of story but since I just happened to start Kindle unlimited I figured I'd at least give it a quick look over. It's familiar enough to recognize but still interesting enough to keep turning the pages which is actually quite an accomplishment. Normally I get turned off when I can recognize too many other books and authors but in this case it feels more like flattery which is just as good as the original version in its own way rather than poor imitation.

Special note that the female lead character actually can accomplish things on her own and does not require rescue not to mention acts mostly rationally.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
tracie hicks
A complex and interesting book.

It starts out feeling totally generic: Boy at school for wizards learns on the return of an ancient evil.

But it gets much better, deeper and more interesting.

Pro: Interesting revelations throughout the book as you learn more. The kind of thing that makes you go "Oh, wow. That makes sense.". Stiff that I didn't see coming, and I read a lot.
Con: Sometimes the magic has rules that were clearly invented just so the author can hit a plot point. Takes you right out of the book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
aran liakos
The story plot was good, although a bit complex to follow at times. All too often I would be "jarred" out of my poetic empathy by a sudden remark that was from this world, this century, and British culture (although the writer is Australian) such as "straight away," and others. He slipped back and forth from his "fantasy story" into modern day and time by using modern cliches. Also, the story was entirely too bloody with thousands murdered, entire villages, every student in 3 entire "universities." Worst of all was that the ending was not an ending, with far too many threads left hanging and questions unanswered. As the Award Winning author, Lois McMaster Bujold once said, "....the first novel of every writer should be burned." Maybe not just the first.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
alexandra fleming
This book is now in my top ten "must read" list.
From the first page to the last I was captivated. This book is reminiscent of Sanderson and the like, but with its own style.
I highly recommend this book to any fantasy fan.
Fast moving.
Entertaining.
Brilliant.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
julie lobello
An Amazing Voice in the realm of fantasy, this first installment could easily be in the same class as Robert Jordan and David Eddings. The characters are detailed, interesting, and deep, there are no superficial characters. The writers style is amazing, no superficial or superfluous descriptions that drag story down. The book is paced perfectly, there is the large over arching conflict peppered with smaller intrigues and conflicts to keep things interesting and hold the readers attention. Honestly a great read!!
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
daanial
This book was.....okay I suppose, but definitely nothing special. The story and characters tend to be wooden and clunky. The author borrows from a few different sources, which usually is not an issue since you must draw inspiration from somewhere, but this is heavy and obvious in the book. The magic system is kind of neat, but nothing to write home about. There are worse ways to pass the time than reading this book, but I would not recommend it to anyone.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
becky mcmahon
This is a stunning first novel by what appears to be a brilliant new star in the genre's firmament. If the sequel(s) are as good as this first attempt, and I have no reason to believe otherwise, we're in for a real treat.
We are introduced to the main characters in the middle of a plot that has been developing for centuries, and several of these individuals seem to have no idea as to the scope of their involvement at all.
There is manipulation and intrigue, brutality and horror. There is young love and hope. Betrayal. Honor. And through it all an overwhelming sense of awe at what has been created here.
I highly recommend this book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
melanie smith bell
Wow, I've been waiting for a story like this. The author has done a wonderful job bringing these characters to life. Each chapter centers around a certain character, and they are each engaging and keep you in the story without boring you. By the time the next chapter comes along you hate leaving, but immediately become part of the story again. The author has done a good job. My only negative is the world building. I never had a feeling of what the surroundings were. There were to many shadow areas in the description. I'm not one to harp on it to much, because to much description and I skip over it, but this could have used some. Other than that, wonderful story, glad to have found it, and I will patiently await book 2.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
dana baraki
This a great read. I gave the book 4- stars instead of 5 because the first chapters moved slowly. I was looking for the rollercoaster pick-up but there was none well past page 100. The author's writing is detailed. This is due to the half truths, lies, masks, magic and double crosses the author introduces to flavor the setting, characters and plot. But by page 300 I couldn't put the book down. I look forward to reading the next installment. This book can be enjoyed by young teens and adult fantasy fans. There are sections with graphic violence that surprised even me given the literary cadence of the story.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jordy
Tower Lord got you down? Rothfuss' $10 pamphlet giving you the blues?

Here is the cure. Excellent character based writing, powerful plot development and those folks at Penguin haven't had a chance to ruin it.
I am completed delighted to have found this book. Everything i want in a great fantasy tale without being even a little bit predictable.
While teen readers may enjoy it, this is a book an adult will most definitely appreciate as i have.
Why are you still reading this review? Download this book and start enjoying great writing on your kindle again.
-from my mobile device
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mark woodland
Even though it's apparent that James was inspired by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson, The Shadow of What Was Lost stands on its own as a very well crafted fantasy novel. I rarely like every single character perspective that authors give when they have multiple main characters in a book but I was enjoying each individual character's story line equally. It was very easy to get sucked into the world and the characters and the book was very difficult to put down.

Some of the plot elements were a little tough to follow. I don't want to go into detail as they could be considered spoilers but it didn't detract from my enjoyment of the book as a whole.

My only disappointment with the book is waiting for number 2.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jing vanta
Jordan and Sanderson are respectively the titans in their field. They rank among the few in the fantasy genre to produce great epic fantasy and because this is an epic fantasy book the parallels are easy to draw. But this book is so much more than just another Jordan or another Sanderson. It is new and dynamic and Islington will soon be ranked among the greats for producing an epic fantasy that holds its own against WoT or the Stormlight Archive. If you love epic fantasy, by all means, read this book, but expect something more than just "another WoT". Prepare to be swept away and be taken on a whole new adventure.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
brien
What a great adventure! This book is a slow burn but it’s so well built and so detailed I got completely lost in this world. I loved everything about it and can’t wait to see what happens! 5 stars
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sonya
I feel that I have to first confess that I've never read Wheel of Time, but I HAVE read pretty much everything Brandon Sanderson has ever written. In fact, I stumbled across this book while looking for something to fill the hole that Brandon had created by making such boss books. Well, I am happy to say that this book TOTALLY filled that hole. I felt like Islington absolutely nailed the world building, the intriguing magic system, along with character development. Multiple points of view was done masterfully. And to boot, the book didn't have all the filth that some fantasy authors seemed prone to indulge in.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sargasm
I enjoyed this writer's use of El, the one God. Quite reminiscent of Yah in the old testament. Shape shifters and gifted, augers and the Blind. On the same playing field with Branden Sanderson, one of my all time favorite writer's. I am definitely going to buy the follow up book to this one.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
olivia audoma
For the sanity of the readers... please find some other body gesture other than "he inclined his head". What's wrong with the necks of the people in this universe? I'm only half done with the book and I'm wondering if this book even had an editor. The story is great, but so repetitive in the small details it gets really distracting.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
antti
I've tried to enjoy this book, but I just can't identify with any of the shallow characters plodding through the shallow plot. Nothing evokes a sense of true danger, adventure, or wonder that the works of great authors do. Every piece of conversation or turn of the plot comes off flat and leaves me wondering why I should care. My Kindle app tells me I'm only 33% through it so far, and I just can't see myself trudging through to the finish.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lucius sulla
A long read but no boring spots to skip over. Lots of action and the tale moves right along. I may have missed some but I didn't notice any spelling or grammar errors that seem to populate so many cheaper kindle books.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
elissa hall
I read this book through the Kindle Unlimited program. Basically I let it sit on my kindle for three months and then one day I needed something to read at breakfast. This story is amazing. AMAZING. Let me tell you, the history of this world is something out of Rothfuss, the magic system something by Sanderson, battle scenes like Jordan, and intrigue double dealing like Martin. I finished this book in one day. I couldn't put it down. I am completely blown away. There are guys out there getting kudos for garbage. David Drake, Goodkind, and Scott Baker to name a few. Most reviews try to give a synopsis of the book rather than reviewing the book, Im not here to do that. If you want a great read pick this up. My only problem is now I have to wait a year for the follow up. Seriously A+ work James. I don't know who to trust and who's agenda is the right one.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
amir mojiry
I have to admit, this book was a slow starter for me, but once I got a few chapters in, I was hooked! I had questions upon questions I wanted answered about Asha being forced to be a shadow, about why Davian was sent to find Caeden, who Caeden was, how Taeris was really involved... and so many more! When I got those answers they were quite the surprise, and some a bit disappointing. As the story developed, it was interesting how everyone's journey's in life seemed to be linked somehow. I was happy that by the end of the book, everyone was able to find their own spot in society despite so many in that society seeming to be against them. But the end... when Caeden's past was revealed?! Wow, just wow... did not see that coming! It's going to be a long wait for the next one, but I am eagerly anticipating it!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
raymond berg
I tried this book as a kindle recommendation. I was pleasantly surprised. Novellas seem to be becoming more common, so I was glad the book had some length and depth. The characters were well written, though predictable given the influencing authors. I too like Jordan and Sanderson, and for good reason. The storyline ends at a good point and keeps you wanting more. I would recommend this book readily and await the sequel.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
hisham zain
This book took a few chapters to get into, but I'm glad I made the effort. I couldn't put it down once I got into the story. Every time I got dismissive in my head about where something was going, the author surprised me going off in a different direction. Can't wait to read the next one.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
nicolle
I enjoyed this novel. Novel is the correct term. This is a real book-it was not some novella masquerading as a book as is the fashion in many stories I purchase on the Kindle. It even had an ending instead of some ridiculous cliff hanger designed to lure you to read the sequel, yet the ending left me wanting more. The world building was interesting and the magic system was somewhat unique. The basic archetype of the story was familiar, but the execution was superb. You will enjoy this tale.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
laura brennan
*Original review on Goodreads and My Blog*

I thought this book was fantastic. I loved most of the characters. The world building was amazing. There is a lot going on but I didn't find it confusing.

Just an overall good fantasy book =)
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
christopher storjohann
James Islington has many ideas of interest, but does not form a satisfactory story from them.

The characters of the book feel like characters, not human beings. They bend to the needs of the plot before anything else. As an example a character is kidnapped, beaten, half-starved, kept bound constantly and in constant fear of her life that a lie she told to hopefully result in her rescue will cause her death. A few days after her rescue, she is fine and on the job again the ordeal treated like you would a case of food poisoning. If her life experience had been one of training in deadly situations or she had some deeply personal goal that kept pushing her forward, it may have been acceptable. No, she is just weeks off a small school and her motivation is "one of my friends is still alive and there are some bad people out there I feel tricked me."

This is not an isolated incident. Characters are constantly lying to one another out of plot-motivated fear. Details are constantly withheld to increase tension, all set in a story where there is "only one timeline" to quote the story itself. Things happen to characters most out of their control by shadowy forces we can't comprehend because they are mostly undefined. Of course it is all fated, all the characters are too fatalistic to do anything else. This leads to the deus ex machina ending rewarding three of the four protagonists for simply not dying even though they have prophecies proving they are alive in the future.

Many have said the world-building is good in this story and I would like to know more about the world. I wonder if this is due to more interesting elements being mentioned rather than interesting things performed in the narrative. Not including details or teasing at greater mysteries seems to be Mr. Islington's hallmark but it contradicts the themes of fate and perfect prophecy. If it is already decided why bother with the lead-up? The prose was not exciting and the details were not evocative, so the whole affair listens as nothing more than sequel bait. That is where I could follow given all huge amounts of proper names including characters referred to by different names. There was no sense of scale or action, just more names framed to sound important but meaning nothing. A character with a dark secret? Get in line behind almost every other character.

On some level, the novel works because I do want to know just how all those threads would come together. I doubt it would be interesting, but I do want closure. Magic is oddly one of the less mysterious things in the world, given some direct rules given and limitations actually presented. Limits so extensive, in fact, that the weakest of the four protagonists fails to ever use it as a weapon when it's actually needed, actually risking his friends more than he succeeds.

This is not the worse book I've listened to and the memory gambit revealed in the epilogue was enjoyable. The world has potential and I hope Mr. Islington continues the series so I can at least read a plot summary. For others, I would recommend skipping this one.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
janelle simone
I loved this book. Picked it up on a whim for a friend and then got hooked on it myself. I couldn't put it down and that's unusual for me these days. The plot twists go on and on until I really wasn't sure who the good guys were and who the bad guys were--there were good people doing bad things, and bad people doing good things. I loved that. Islington is a master of foreshadowing. He drops bits of information here and there, just enough to intrigue you without giving away what's really going on. I'm looking forward to the next book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
seham yusuf
I've only read a handful of fantasy indie books that deserve to be put alongside authors like Rothfuss and Sanderson. "Blood Song", "Red Knight" and now this.

The story is a coming-of-age, where the main character comes into abilities in a world where magic users are tightly controlled. The society itself is similar to Kingkiller in how its laid out. The story begins in a school, where friends and rivalries are introduced, the stage set and some of the world history and it's effects on the society are explored.

I won't add spoilers or details beyond that, but this is such an impressive book, action packed, unique in a richly realised world. The characters are deep and have good progression. It's familiar in the coming-of-age themes, but different enough to keep the story interesting, and the unexpected ending was also really well thought out.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
tori macallister
Well written. I've read upwards of sixty kindle unlimited titles to date, and I would rate this as one of the top three. Very much in the style of The Wheel of Time, yet definitely not a clone or fan fiction. It has a strong, cohesive story, it has excellent world building, and it has well written characters.
My only critique (and it is a minor one): The character building could have been a little stronger, and I hope he fleshed them out a little more in the next one.
Overall, this book alone is worth the kindle unlimited subscription.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
joe odran doran
I though that this was a really good book. While it is true that Davian is following the paths of other fantasy heroes and seems to becoming the character of destiny, how he's getting there is a really good story. There are enough twists to keep you wondering what's really happening, and so I like the fact that you can't necessarily predict who will do what, nor what will necessarily happen.

It gets 5 stars from me because when I finished it, I sadly looked at the list of books on my kindle that I've been planning on reading, and I thought, "I just want to read the next one in this series and find out where the author is going with this story.."
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
masyhur hilmy
If you love fantasy and magic and mythical creatures,this is your book. I really enjoyed reading it. However, it was a little confusing. Not the story per se but all the different characters and location names. It was difficult to keep up since the names weren't English of course and aside from the central characters, it was hard to remember who was who which made the story a little less enjoyable. The locations were hard to remember too for the same reason. It was just too much, multiple story lines from different points of views, found myself going back a lot. The story was pretty awesome in general though
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kathy kosek
I enjoyed the strong, distinct characters, the creativity and cunning and cruelty of the villains, and the plot. Nothing but excellent writing. I'll admit the style needs refinement, but that will come with time. I think this book needs to be on any must-read list of new/recent fantasy.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sandra clark
I loved this book! It's been awhile since I've read a book I didn't want to end. I began to slow down towards the end, not wanting to leave the characters behind. I have been a chain reader for decades! Some of my favorite series are Otherland, Mistborn, Lord of the Rings and Dune. I like a lot of different books and then there are the ones I love.
I will be waiting patiently for the next book , I hope it's very soon!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
asisha
Good plot. Characters are semi-well developed. However, many are somewhat stereotypical.

One star lost for repetitious use of narration devices. Early one everyone is holding their breath but not realizing till after the suspenseful moment has passed. Gets annoying.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ryan monroe
If you don't read this book, then your missing out on one of the best fantasy books this year! Intriguing characters, realistic magic,and a very believable and vast story. This story gradually becomes quite complex. With every character and story lines becoming confusing to the point that good becomes evil and vise versa. This is one of those books that will become a reread. Can't wait for the next book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kbernard
The shadow of Jordan, Sanderson, Ruthfuss it's present on this book, but the narrative's well paced, the characters interesting and real. Full of promises for the next chapters of this saga. I like it. I recommend it.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
nick donald
I’m taken aback by how emphatically enthusiastic the reviews of this book have been. As so many of the other reviewers here mention, I was pulled in by the comparison to Robert Jordan. The story was generally entertaining, but I did have specific issues. (1) I felt the characters lacked depth and pathos. There was no one I felt emotionally invested in. (2) The story was surprisingly and consistently violent. Whole leagues of bodies, some with the heads of the adults re-attached to children. Stabbing up into people’s brains. Cutting people’s private parts out while they are alive and screaming. It was difficult to listen to, and weighed more and more heavily on me as the story progressed. (3) I understand that there is nothing new under the sun, and the overall story was quite different than other books. That being said, some of the points echoed a little too strongly back to Wheel of Time: shadowy bad creatures with dark cloaks that don’t move in the wind, a sword that is not a sword, core character(s) that are reincarnations of major historical legends. Laman (spelled here as Laiman) is not the king, but the king’s chief advisor. I found these repetitions distracting. (4) The actions of some of the characters were extremely implausible.

During the majority of the story it was entertaining enough, and while I grew more disengaged as it progressed, it still kept me through to the end. I may even consider giving the second book a go, although right now I’m uncertain. If you’re a fantasy fan and having trouble finding something to read, and can handle a fair amount of violent images, you may enjoy this; it certainly seems that the vast majority of readers are.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
tamim zahrani
I wasn't sure about this book since the synopsis didn't grab my attention but since it was free with Kindle Unlimited I decided to try it and I am sooooo glad that I did. This book had me hooked from the first chapter and it just got better from there. I love fantasy and this rates up there with some of the best. There were several times I wasn't sure about different side characters because the names if several were quite similar but other than that it was great. Can't wait for the next one!
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
sushma
I could never develop any interest in any of the characters. The plot had little new, the writing just average at best. I did finish it, but at the time had nothing new to read....I got this as a "loan", therwise doubt if I'd have purchased.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
todd
Very good writing, but this author was diffentily influence by the Robert Jordon series, The Wheel of Time. I had flash backs to that series, to the point I forgot a couple of times whose book I was reading. Even so, there was enough of his own imagination to the buildig of his characters and the world he has created that has me looking forward to his next book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sherry feeser
Excellent world building, well crafted characters and a story line that bobs & weaves, leaving the reader guessing at each turn. If you enjoy books like Name of the Wind, Raven's Shadow, etc...then pick this up in a hurry! As with most well-written fantasy books, the author asks you to fully immerse yourself, and little by little learn the world that is being introduced right alongside the characters. In return he's gifted the reader with a fast moving storyline and engaging characters that keeps the reader flipping pages late into the night. Nicely done Islington! My only complaint is having to wait for the next books.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
daren
Not knowing what to expect, I started this book with no expectations. I was pulled into this story with all its twists and turns, in a world so different than our own, but with characters who became real to me. I can't wait to read more! I recommend this book to anyone who can handle a roller coaster of emotion, and a storyline that leaves you both mystified and on the edge of your seat.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
limarie cabrera
Few first books in a series or trilogy leave me wanting to read the rest, but this one is an exception. Though some (few, really) grammatical issues grated on me, the characters were well developed and compelling. The story line is well thought out and pulls you along to the conclusion. Well worth reading.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
craig cunningham
I have read some very bad fantasy lately so I was thrilled to find this book. I thought the world was interesting and I thought the characters were strong too. My only complaint is that the next book hasn't been published yet. I was dying for the next installment. Well done to James Islington, you have a new fan!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kristl
I didn't go into this expecting the level of polish and talent I encountered. This book was a blast to read and listen to! It had everything I love about Brandon Sanderson books with characters that are possibly even more likable (which is saying something when compared to the mistborn series). Loved it, Loved it, loved IT!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
john stahl
This was such a pleasant surprise. After Wheel of Time, I've been casting around for new epic fantasy. I've become a fan of Brandon Sanderson, greatly enjoying both his new Stormlight Archive and the Mistborn trilogy. With Mistborn, though, I felt like there were a few 'off' elements to the storytelling that tipped it off as one of Sanderson's earlier efforts. The Shadow of What was Lost has none of that feel. It is a story tightly written with many layers of plot that are carefully revealed at a near flawless pace. I can't believe it is a debut novel. Mostly, though, I feel guilty that I read this book for free through the kindle lending library...I'm looking forward to paying full price for James Islington's next installments in this series, or really anything else he comes up with!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
dan weaver
I really enjoyed this book....it moved along well! I can't wait for the next book.
I wasn't surprised when I saw, at the end, that the author was influenced by Terry Brooks, Sanderson and Rothfuss....those are some of my favorite authors....and it is evident that their influence on his writing made for a great story!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
nohemi
I literally just finished this book and I'm considering pre-ordering book 2. It was amazing. So much mystery and I love that. Enough twists that I was guessing throughout the book. It was definitely not boring and had a different twist of things. Definitely was an "epic journey" type but I love those! Really can't praise Islington enough for this fine piece of work.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
pixierot
i could not stop reading...and by the time i came to the last word, withdrawal was already settling in my flesh. this is one o those books i will have to forget in order to avoid uselessy craving the next book.
with jordan…i purposely was a book behind so i always had one in my possession that was unread..and with jordan's passing, i look longingly at my copies but then there will be no more.
i said all that because i willl need to do that with this series.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
wes goertzen
Listening to the Audible version. Very good.
I was a fan of Robert Jordan for the first few books in his wheel of time series. However, I dropped it after he went the way of spending pages and pages describing people eating dinner. This book has the feel of those first few I loved so much. I hope he keeps it up.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
damgaard78
It was good. It suffered from a few editing errors, but not bad for an independent author. I am looking forward to the next book. The only real negative was that it became convoluted at several points.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
layla rostami
This certainly doesn't read as a first novel. I borrowed this book for free as an the store Prime member and was pleasantly surprised. At first you think it's going to be another teeny-bopper magic school read, but then everything goes to hell and it gets really dark. It feels big, epic, full of imagination. Promising new author. If you like Sanderson, you'll dig this.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lindsy
No high brow, self-indulgent critique'ng from me, I'll leave that to anyone who deems themselves qualified. What I will say is that I thought this extremely entertaining and a most excellent first of what I desperately hope to be many more books to follow. Soon. Write faster, write faster!!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
christian duchesne
Fantastic. I find it hard to believe this is the author's first book. The characters and dialogue are well developed, the story, world building, and magic system are all very well thought out. I'm excited to see what comes next from this author. Comparisons to Sanderson and Jordan are well warranted. I would highly recommend this book to any fans of the fantasy genre.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
oana
Really enjoyed the read. You can tell the author has been a long time fan of the genre and knows his stuff. Lots of great elements, more on the magic systems instead of lengthy sword sequences- but there's plenty of action and original creativity. Liked the way it developed, and look forward to more.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
ruthie
Interesting story line and moves quicky. Details are not always given, so the jump in the story can sometimes be odd. A few great twists, some intriguing characters and the fast pace keep the story going. Not a bad read, and I hope there's another book to finish the story.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
derek petterborg
You'd never know the author was a first-time writer. The writing (and editing, which is key) is superb. The characters feel real, the story is interesting, well-paced and well-told, and the details of the world and its magic are sufficient to the story. I'm anxiously awaiting the second book in the series. Well-done!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
cheri woodsmall
The flow is reminiscent of Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson works, mingled with Patrick Rothfuss. Solid narrative with excellent detail. I also appreciate the detailed map (high priority in my opinion of high fantasy series). As long as the pace doesn't bog down in book 2, I would rather this be a 5-10 book series as compared to the existing plan for a trilogy.
An inspiring read. Highly Recommended
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
tammy bertelsen
I read a lot of fantasy books and have to say this was a hard one to put down. Good character development and an original world with lots of detail about the magic. Has a fairly complex plot that keeps you thinking about what will happen next. A definite must read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ashleighmc
This is one of those keep up later than I should be books as I convince myself, "just one more chapter." I was truly upset that I finished it and am now eagerly hopeful of the next in the series. Time is spent truly developing the main character and the story is not rushed.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
irma
This review will be short. The writing is superb and the story was well crafted and worthy of your attention if you are a fan of Tolkein. The novel has everything you could wish for in this genre of Fantasy fiction.I can't wait for the next books to be published.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
alarra
Let's incline our heads before we start. Every person in this story is obsessed with inclining their heads so it rubbed off on me.
This was a pretty good beginning to a trilogy and I'm looking forward to the next one. The characters were well done and most of them had a certain amount of mystery around them to keep them interesting. I can definitely see Sandersons influence on the authors style. I'd recommend to any fan of the genre.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
tara graff
This is great fun to read, and I loved the world, characters, and system of magic that Islington created. The plot has many twists, which made it more interesting than a typical fantasy novel. I just hope the author can keep all of it straight as this story develops. I don't give hardly anything 5 stars, so 4 stars is a high rating coming from me. The only downside is that this novel is the beginning of a series that feels like it will take multiple novels to complete, and it just came out.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
d3adalus
One of those rare authors on Kindle who write not only a good story and characters, but write it well. If you like fantasy and well-structured sentences you will enjoy this book. I only regret that there's no sequel yet. As enjoyable as Court Ellyn, Michael Hicks, and Sara King.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
harriett
I got through two thirds of the book and that is as far as I could get.
it's not a bad book it just didn't do it for me. this book takes some concentration to read and I couldn't keep it up .
Again not a bad book
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
beth p
A nice read. Has all the marks to hit. Mysteries back story that gets pieces added throughout, small love story, and a hero in the making. Fun to read but no major twist to those heavy fantasy readers. All in all glad I read it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
autumn dream
I don't noreally read these kind of books, but this was a very captivating book! It was a little hard to follow, as it jumped around a lot and some of the places and names were hard to pronounce. It is was not something that you could predtict the ending thấy for sure. But it was still a great read and am looking forward to the 2nd book!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
shala eisenbeisz
Really liked the pace of the book. The author manages to keep you engaged in every characters story. So that I didn't feel like I had to rush through parts of the books that didn't focus on my favorite characters. Fans of Jordan will appreciate this one and future ones to come.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
theresa maher
Islington's writing, around the action scenes is excellent, creating immediacy and lifting the tempo of the story-line. Other parts of the novel read as if they have been written by a grammatically unskilled 12 year old (case in point; "who" versus "whom", please learn the difference, James).

The work at this time is not in the world-building class of Rothfuss and is quite two-dimensional with insufficient effort going into detail. James, I urge you to read everything Robin Hobb has written if world-building is to be a claim.

That said, the work has potential, and I did not put it down, despite feeling as if I needed to edit the item as I read it, and I will purchase the sequel.

James, you get an "A" for successful engagement.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
chris rogers
While it was an interesting read, I had a hard time making it through the first half. However my patience was rewarded with a more intriguing story as it went. I'm looking forward to continuing the series
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
dinara
I've read and loved Jordan. I've read and loved Sanderson. I've read and loved Weeks. I've now read and loved Islington. The character development and storytelling in this first novel has me hooked. I devoured this book. Can't wait for more!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
palma
Impressive First book. Already looking forward to the next one. Good characters, interesting story. A little confusing keeping track of similar sounding names. Overall a great read recommended for Jordan, Goodkin, and general fantasy fans.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jamie kay
Very fun read. Lots of character and lore development gives the world a robust texture. Also, a lengthy telling of an interesting story, which I always appreciate. The only thing that keeps this from being a "5 star" read is the pacing, which I found to be a little slow. Islington is a very talented author, and I'm looking forward to reading all of his future books.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
daniel herrera
This may be a great book. The reviews certainly indicate so. But I could NOT handle the narration on the Audible version. He ends far too many sentences with a dramatic drop in pitch on the last syllable of the last word. I just couldn't take it. I don't think I'll be listening to any more books narrated by Michael Kramer.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mailisia lemus
I thought this was a fantastic book. This was a suggested book and I've been disappointed with most of the recent books that have been suggested to me. This book has all of the elements that I've come to need from a book. The writing was well-done and the characters were very well developed.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
baiba
This does not come anywhere close to Sanderson or Rothfuss, it was a struggle from the beginning to get through. Very very slow and dull. If you read a lot of these five star reviews, then read this book, you will see what's wrong with the store book reviews being paid for and not real people reading and reviewing.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ayvih
There are quite a few fantasy fiction books out there right now that are cookie cutter. This book is a breath of fresh air! It has a great plot, interesting characters, and intriguing twists and turns! I am only upset that I have to wait until the next book is published! This is a must read!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
christina jones
Interesting and rather complex plot and good pacing. Enjoyed the characters, and found the dialog to be believable. This one left me wanting to read the next book in the series. I look forward to that.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
danni
As a long time Wheel of Time fan, I've been looking for a new series that I could hopefully enjoy just as much. I picked this up based on other reviews and absolutely loved it. Islington has just become one of my favorite authors.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
zeneefa zaneer
It's been a while since fantasy has impressed me, but Islington does a great job creating a gripping world complete with its own history, cultures, and legends. His character development is solid on a level I haven't seen since David Eddings back at the before he started recycling his material. This man has done his homework. 5 stars. Will buy the next one!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
podchara rattanakawin
This book really caught me off guard. I am not a big fan of magic users as main characters, I prefer the sword swinging fighter types. This book however managed to really have me pulling to for the "Gifted" characters. I was unable to put the book down, and I am very excited about the next book.

This is really an exceptional book that I have already recommended to several friends.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
zainab shibly
First review I have left on a book and I am an avid reader. This book was epic, well written, and kept you interested throughout the book. This book was a long read, but it didn't seem monotonous or lagging in suspense, but kept you wondering what was happening to Davian, Wirr, and Asha. I'm not one for spoilers, so I'll just say this... Give it a shot, it was well worth the read. You will not be sorry that you did.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
marie monnier
This book is a must have for serious science fantasy readers. The vocabulary, subject matter, characters, plot flow are all excellent. Some deep thinking required. And either the author is an English grammar wizard, or the editor did an outstanding job.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
leonard
There's nothing wrong with tropes, without them we'd have no genres, but the author uses them in tired and uninteresting ways. His ambition shows, but there's no depth in his characters, nor interest nor engagement for the reader, at least not this reader. The book is also too long by half, and this is just the first of what is certain to be a doorstop series. For those who like it, there sure is a lot of it. Goes double for those who don't.

Next Wheel of Time indeed. Islington cashes in on the fantasy genre without adding anything to it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
terrance mckean
Great story full of twists and turns! Definitely well thought out my only complaint was the overwhelming amount of difficult vocabulary. I kept forgetting names and getting characters mixed up due to the vocabulary being so difficult to pronounce.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
benjamin white
I was completely immersed in Islington's world from the beginning and totally enjoyed being thrown in the mix without too much "explaining", it made the pace of the novel much quicker and thoroughly enjoyable. I couldn't put it down :)
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