Falling Shadows: Guardians of Reyth. Volume 1

by Joan Lightning

Synopsis

Falling Shadows: There is danger in the Protectorates surrounding the city-state of Tyreen. Lady Crystu, Rykatu Sorceress, and her protector, Ponfour Tam, must prepare to meet and defeat the danger.

On a trip outside Tyreen, a servant of the Shadowbringer, is able to enter first Tam’s and then Crystu’s dreams. The Shadowbringer himself proposes that Crystu become his bride and that, in doing so, become the most powerful woman in the world. Crystu refuses and the Shadowbringer unleashes his minions to bring evil to the world.

Having undergone extensive testing, Tam learns to become a dreamwalker. With this new power, he is able to save Crystu once again from the effects of a ‘gleaning’, a prophecy, that the Shadowbringer is active and that danger approaches.

Strange ships arrive in the Protectorate port of Bein and a strange dust covers the town signaling the beginning of the Shadowbringer’s attack.

Theme of the Book

Falling Shadows is a classic tale of good versus evil. There are religious overtones to the story, with the Lord of Light and the imprisoned Shadowbringer as the images of good and evil. Love, loyalty, courage, and dedication all play a part along with old-fashioned adventure.

What I Liked About the Story

Ms. Lightning has created a fully-formed fantasy world, complete with kings, sorcerers and sorceresses, warriors, commoners, and enemies. This world, centered on the city-state of Tyreen, includes several subsidiary kingdoms under Tyreen’s protection. While the world is based on a fantasy, it is a fantasy in which the laws of physics and the laws of nature apply. Characters use magic, but pay a physical and mental price for doing so. This is not Harry Potter’s world in which wands are waved and spells cast with no effect on the magic user. For a fantasy world, this one feels real.

Adding to the realism is the development of the characters. Rykatu (and princess) Crystu is a young woman gifted with magic but also a young woman with her own character flaws. She can be impatient, can lose her temper, can be impulsive and thoughtless. Tam, her protector, is brave, loyal, and trustworthy but also stubborn and proud. The relationships between characters are very human. Crystu flirts with Tam; husbands and wives maintain close but humorous relationships; there is teasing between brothers and competition between soldiers.

There is enough action in the story to satisfy most fantasy readers but for me the best thing in the book was the excellent character development. I learned to care about and appreciate Crystu, Tam, and all the others who populate Ms. Lightning’s world.

Ms. Lightning is a very good writer. Her prose flows smoothly; her descriptions are clear and well-defined; and she is able to develop both plot and characters with facility.

What I Didn’t Like About the Story

This is Part 1 of a series and, as such, does not deliver a very satisfying ending. The reader is left to wonder about the development of the relationship between the main characters which seems to be evolving from professional to personal. The reader knows that the Shadowbringer is planning more attacks but is left puzzled as to what those will be and how they will be defended against. There are sections in the book that seem peripheral to the story. However, those seemingly irrelevant sections may play an important role in the next book.

Final Say

I normally dislike books with cliffhanger endings that force the reader to buy the next book to find out what happens. However, Falling Shadows is so well-written that I can forgive the author for not coming to a satisfying conclusion. Any fan of fantasy, swords, and sorcerers will love this book and, I hope, the entire series.

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