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The Outstretched Shadow (The Obsidian Mountain Trilogy, 1) Hardcover – November 8, 2003

4.2 out of 5 stars 133 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In the captivating world conjured by veteran Lackey (Exile's Honor) and classical scholar Mallory (Merlin: The Old Magic) in this first of a high fantasy trilogy, there are three types of magic, each of which has its own rules, limits and variables. But it is the Wild Magic-anathema to Armethalieh, "the Golden City of the Bells," and considered by its residents to be heresy and truly evil-that has the most unusual aspects, for its practitioners must bargain for what they need and pay an often high price for power. Kellen Tavadon, son of Arch-Mage Lycaelon of Armethalieh, has been raised (indoctrinated, actually) to believe that High Magick is the only true magic and that his father and the Council of Mages have the final word. But Kellen isn't so sure. He's always been a bit suspicious of the council's tight control over the city. One day, while playing hooky from his lessons in magery, Kellen finds a set of books about Wild Magic. He knows he shouldn't touch them. To open the books and read them is to court a death sentence, no matter if your father is the Arch-Mage. But Kellen can't resist. And thus, after a bit of a slow start, Kellen sets down a road he never expected to take, on a journey of dire importance to both humans and nonhumans (the latter including elves, unicorns and other enchanting creatures). The narrative speeds to the end, avoiding a jarring halt while leaving the reader satisfied and wanting to know more.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Bored to tears with the predictability of his life, Kellen has only more of the same to look forward to. As the son of the City's ruling archmage, he is high born and mage trained, intended one day to take his place in the City's governing body of magicians, who protect and shepherd its citizens by means of the very structured, closely held secrets of High Magick. Things change drastically for Kellen, though, when he discovers three volumes of forbidden magic in a used-book stall. Forbidden equals old, equals wild, magic, you see, and once Kellen realizes there is a world full of wonders, diversity, and people who think and live differently, he cannot return to the oppressive sameness of City life. When he refuses to give up the books, his father banishes him forever from the City and to a horrific death prearranged by the mages. The Wild Magic has another agenda for him, however, involving an acerbic unicorn and a woman--heavens!--to learn the Wild (but not sex) Magic from. Delightful. Paula Luedtke
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; 1st edition (November 8, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765302195
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765302199
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.7 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (133 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,193,929 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I've always enjoyed reading books by Mercedes Lackey, but I never classified her as one of my most favorite authors. She may be converting me though if this series stays as strong as the opening book.
The book begins typically enough with the protagonist, Kellan, dissatisfied with his life. He is the son of the Arch-mage who presides over the counsel of mages who control almost every aspect of life in the city. Kellan is gifted in magic although there is very little evidence of it at the beginning of the story. All of the mages in the city are only permitted to practice High Magic which Kellan finds very boring. The story really begins to pick up when Kellan finds three books about a different kind of magic called Wild Magic. Once he begins to dabble in this very different magic the story really gets going.
I loved the system of magic that the authors developed. There is a certain coherence and structure to it. Obviously, its magic so it is still unexplainable, but I've always felt that even when you're writing about magic there should be some system to how it functions.
I also thought that the various races that Kellan encounters throughout the story were very well done. The authors did a reasonably good job of giving them different characteristics and natures (i.e. elves are not simply very pretty people who love nature, but actually have characteristics that reflect their nature).
The last thing I liked about this book was that you get to see some of the development and training of Kellan. He has some gifts, but he has to work at learning to use them.
If you've never read Mercedes Lackey, I encourage you to give this new trilogy a try.
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Format: Hardcover
This novel is very long. It hasn't been well edited. These two comments seem to sum up the majority of other reviews of this work. I will concede that this book is long, but it was not poorly edited. Any time that you have two authors collaborating on a given work, that book will be longer than one written by either of them individually. Yes, there are aspects of the story that seem to plod along, but I feel that the overall story is well worth the slower sections. As far as the suggestion that this work was badly edited goes, let me say that I can close my eyes and recall the images that the authors created with their words, even though I read this book 8 months ago! That's not bad editing, people, it's called attention to detail!

I have been reading sci-fi and fantasy novels (and playing related role playing games) for almost 25 years, and the concept of "magic" as presented in this novel is the most original one that I have encountered in probably the last 20 years. The overall concept rivals the originality of the trilogy, "His Dark Materials," by Philip Pullman. Personally, I am more than willing to read a few (slightly) long-winded descriptions in return for that. I am anxiously awaiting the second book in this series....in fact, I think it's about time for me to re-read this book, just to make sure I'm ready.
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Format: Hardcover
I really liked this booked. However I feel a need to warn everyone that it is slow at first. I like getting alot of background on a new world and the main characters, But I usually prefer that you grab my attention first. The book spends a great deal of time at the begining going over history from one view point, and giving us a great deal of information on the homeland of the main character. But it is not until much later in the book that anything actual begins to happen.
I would have prefered the book to start out with some action or decision then started giving us the background information which I think could have been done easily.
All of that aside The Story is great and I can't wait for the second book.
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By Max on December 11, 2003
Format: Hardcover
While I thought that this book had an interesting story, and agree in part with many of the other reviews, there is one overall reason that I gave such a low rating. Kellen, one of the main characters of this book is an endearing young man, with many questions and outlooks upon his life in general. Throughout the novel, Kellen comes upon his realizations and revelations on the blink of an eye, going back and forth from one view to another, doubting just about everything there is to doubt. This is a book of adventure and far off lands, but this feeling of excitement at untold journeys is somewhat put off by the fact that you know the main character will always find the answer when he needs it, at the snao of your fingers. If it wasn't for this, the book would have been, in my opinion, far more enjoyable.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have found Ms. Lackey's novels somewhat hit or miss in the past (for my taste at least). Some I've loved, others I had a hard time finishing. This one a really enjoyed though. Perhaps it does not bring anything new to the epic fantasy genre, but the authors have woven the old stereotypes together well and combined them into an exciting story. The only two minor criticisms I might offer are that the conflicts are rather black and white, and the protagonist's worrying and refusal to ask questions does get a little tedious at times. Still a good book overall and I will definitely be reading the other two novels in this trilogy.
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