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Casting Shadows (Babylon 5: The Passing of the Techno-Mages, Book 1) Mass Market Paperback – February 27, 2001

4.2 out of 5 stars 55 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

The spectacular space epic continues, as the techno-mages face the growing threat of the Shadows . . .

As Elric and his student Galen watch with taut anticipation, dragons, angels, and shooting stars rain from the sky, heralding the arrival of the techno-mages on the planet Soom. It's the first time Elric-a member of the ruling Circle-has hosted such a gathering, and if all goes well, Galen and the other apprentices will emerge triumphant from the grueling initiation rites, ready to embrace their roles as full mages among the most powerful beings in the known universe.

But rumors fly of approaching danger and Galen and his young lover, Isabelle, are chosen to investigate the dark tidings. An ancient race has awakened after a thousand years, thirsty for war, slaughter, and annihilation. Will the techno-mages be the deciding factor in the war ahead? Or the first casualties?

About the Author

Jeanne Cavelos began her professional life as an astrophysicist, working in the Astronaut Training Division at NASA's Johnson Space Center. Her love of science fiction sent her into a career in publishing. She became a senior editor at Dell Publishing, where she ran the science fiction/fantasy program and created the Abyss horror line, for which she won the World Fantasy Award. A few years ago, Jeanne left New York to pursue her own writing career. She is the author of The Science of Star Wars, The Science of The X-Files, and the Babylon 5 novel The Shadow Within. Jeanne is also the director of Odyssey, an annual summer workshop for writers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror. You can visit her Web site at www.sss.net/people/jcavelos or contact her at jcavelos@sff.net.

J. Michael Straczynski is one of the most prolific and highly regarded writers currently working in the television industry. In 1995, he was selected by Newsweek magazine as one of their Fifty for the Future, described as innovators who will shape our lives as we move into the twenty-first century. His work spans every conceivable genre from historical dramas and adaptations of famous works of literature (The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde) to mystery series (Murder, She Wrote), cop shows (Jake and the Fatman), anthology series (The Twilight Zone), and science fiction (Babylon 5). He writes ten hours a day, seven days a week, except for his birthday, New Year's, and Christmas.
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Product Details

  • Series: Babylon 5 (Paperback Ballantine) (Book 1)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey; Reissue edition (February 27, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345427211
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345427212
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.9 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #492,683 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
WOW! What a great book! My hat goes off to Jeanne Cavelos.
First off, it's the first TV tie-in novel I've read since "Star Trek: The Next Generation" books back in high school. Those were good. Pretty good. The big drawback was that they didn't really matter -- they were isolated stories, like watching an episode. And they weren't canon.
That's "Baylon 5" / "Crusade" creator J. Michael Straczynski's first stroke of brilliance: B5 novels are canon! They're officially a part of the "Babylon 5" universe. Second stroke? They matter! "Casting Shadows" fills in important backstory -- interweaving it with events we've seen on the small screen -- to create a story I really want to read. I want to know what happened to Isabelle. I want to know how Galen became the man he is. I want to know why the Techno-Mages left when they did (especially considering the fact that we know from "Crusade" that there was dissenting opinion) ... and when they're coming back.
"Casting Shadows" is the best TV tie-in novel I've read.
The story is absolutely engaging. I don't think I've ever read a novel so fast! I'd plan on reading one chapter, and end up reading two or three or four. (I can't think of the last book I read about which I could actually say, "I couldn't put it down.")
The author handles the subject matter with suberb skill, explaining much of how a Techno-Mage does what he or she does, but still retaining much of the mystery behind their order. The details were vital, and I think they came in just the right dose.
Understanding the larger scope of the Shadow War is important to reading "Casting Shadows," so folks who haven't seen the television series might not follow as easily.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Of all of the beings in the B5 universe, the TechnoMages were some of the most intriguing and least known. This book helps you to understand them very well, and you will be surprised at what you find out. I know I was. I didn't realise how diverse a group they were, and I always wondered about their origins.
The book tells the story of Galen, Elric's apprentice, and how he came to be a TechnoMage. I enjoyed his character very much and seeing the TechnoMages and the upcoming Shadow war from his eyes was interesting. We gain lots of insight into TechnoMage culture, what it takes to be one, and how powerful they are. We learn much about their origins and the "tech" that gives them their power.
This book is just plain fun to read. I have read the Centauri Trilogy and the Psi-Corp trilogies, but this one has a very different feel to it. I actually found it similar to Harry Potter books in a way. Don't shoot me! It's true! The beginning of the book got me thinking of the 4th Potter book in that it was a great gathering of technomages of all sorts, and at its core it's the story of two mage initiates who are trying to solve a mystery involving a powerful enemy.
You don't need to know much back story to understand what happens here. It can stand alone as it's own miniseries. So, you don't have to be a rabid B5 fan to enjoy this book. If you enjoy fantasy stories of powerful wizards and evil forces, of magic and mystery, you will enjoy this book, too.
Trust me.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Casting Shadows is a novel that, in my opinion, should be at the top of any must-read book list.
As with her previous work, Shadow Within, a knowledge of the Babylon 5 universe is not required to enjoy this, but for those who have been following the series for some time, Casting adds a new depth, new layers, that have not been shown in any previous tie-in book.
It is the rare book that not only matches the quality of the material it is based upon, but surpasses it.
While I would recommend reading Shadow Within before Casting, it is not required to enjoy the novel.
The majority of the action takes place in November and December of 2258, the end of the first season of B5, and the ending leads into the events seen in Geometry of Shadows, which featured Elric - Galen's mentor and teacher.
There are appearances by many people we've seen within the B5 and Crusade universe, including Galen, Elric, Alwyn, Isabelle, Blaylock, Morden, Anna Sheridan, and "Johnny" Sheridan.
Something I found highly unusual was the author's characterizations. They were ALL dead-on, portrayed exactly as seen on-screen, in a very three-dimensional light. The characters were, quite simply, brought to life.
Events range from falling-out-of-your-chair laughter (just picturing Alwyn in a probe-spitting contest was deadly for the mountain dew I'd just swallowed!) to ripping-your-hear-out sadness.
I have heard people talk before about books they just couldn't put down, that they needed "just one more chapter" before bed, but I had never experienced that feeling. Until now.
It's almost twice as long as Shadow Within, and it leaves you waiting with breathless anticipation for the next one, due in July. I don't know how we will survive the wait.
Would I recommend this to others? Without a Shadow of a doubt.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I enjoyed this book on two different levels.
First, as always, it's interesting to read a story where you're not sure about the outcome. Sure, we do know the Shadows really *are* gathering at the rim, we know how the upcoming war will end, and we know what decision the techno-mages will make. Still, getting from point A to point B kept me in suspense. This was truly a "trust no one" story. I also enjoyed the characterizations of Galen and Isabelle, as well as Burrell, Morden, Elric, Alwyn, and others. They were true to all we know about the B5 universe. The "Johnny" demon made me laugh out loud. It was a subtle, but nice touch.
Secondly, and perhaps more important, I enjoyed finally getting to know more about the techno mages, who they are, their concerns, cultures, idiosyncracies, corruption, tricks, etc.
I'm not sure I agree that this book is for people who don't follow Babylon 5. It's not a necessity to understand the story, but it makes it more understandable. If I were new to B5, I would start with the Psi Corps trilogy. (Well, I'd start with the TV show...)
I would say the first 100 pages or so of the book moved too slowly for me. As stated above, I did like the depth which Cavelos brought to the techno mages...but then there's a point where the story needs to get rolling! She should have started the story moving about 40 pages before she did.
Overall, an excellent book. I'm looking forward to the rest of the series.
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