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The Shadow of Black Wings (The Year of the Dragon, Book 1) [Kindle Edition]

James Calbraith
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $12.99
Kindle Price: $0.99
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Book Description

2nd Edition, revised and edited, April 2013

"Fast paced and full of energy"
--Adrian Tchaikovsky, author of the Shadows of the Apt

"This manuscript is full of highly crafted detail that will make readers shiver at times with fear and delight ... a familiar yet highly original fantasy that is a worthwhile read."
-- Publishers Weekly

"The real-world cultures are incredibly well-researched and truthful, and yet well-balanced with the fantasy elements. An intriguing and impressive series."
-- Ben Galley, author of the Emaneska Series

It is the Sixteenth Year of Queen Victoria. In the powerful empire of Dracaland, Bran, a young dragon rider, joins his father on a military expedition to the mysterious lands of the Orient. In the reclusive Yamato, Sato, a tomboy samurai girl, strives to prove her right to inherit her father's school of western magic. Nagomi, a timid shrine apprentice, is haunted by the visions of dark future she must keep secret even from her best friend.

They don't know it yet, but their paths will cross... And when they do, nothing will ever be the same again.

Welcome to The Shadow of Black Wings, a steam-powered romp across the land of dragons, wizards and samurai. It's big, it's fast, it's been compared to Tolkien in terms of world-building, it has strong female characters and lots of carefully researched detail. You will meet the Royal Marines sailing mighty ironclads and Chinese walking machines; mysterious warlords and crazy inventors; you will discover dark prophecies, family secrets and blood-thirsty demons. And all that in just the first volume!


Editorial Reviews

Review

"Fast paced and full of energy."
--Adrian Tchaikovsky, author of the Shadows of the Apt 

"This manuscript is full of highly crafted detail that will make readers shiver at times with fear and delight ... a familiar yet highly original fantasy that is a worthwhile read."
-- Publishers Weekly

"James Calbraith's writing is reminiscent of a classic, epic fantasy-immersive, and detailed to the letter. The real-world cultures he draws from are incredibly well-researched and truthful, yet well-balanced with the fantasy elements he sprinkles in between.
An intriguing and impressive series."
-- Ben Galley, author of the Emaneska Series

"Calbraith weaves a story that is wholly original while following the traditional fantasy tropes."
-- eFiction Steampunk

From the Author

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Product Details

  • File Size: 1094 KB
  • Print Length: 334 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Flying Squid; 1 edition (June 28, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008FS5RPC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #222,667 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful blend of history & fantasy September 11, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Imagine a really well written historical fiction, taking place in the mid 1800's, focusing on the adventures and intrigues occurring in and around imperial Japan. Now add an element of alternative history: the Roman Empire was never vanquished and is vying with other European powers for access to the Orient. And then top that off with a rich layer of dragons, magic and other fantasy elements. That's what you have with The Shadow of Black Wings. James Calbraith does a wonderful job at weaving fact and fantasy into an alternative but very realistic history that pulls the reader into its richness. I'm definitely going to be reading the next book in the series.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Here, There Be Dragons August 2, 2012
Format:Paperback
The summary of THE SHADOW OF BLACK WINGS does not do it justice because it seems to indicate that this is a piece of historical fiction. It is not. There are dragons and magic from almost the first page. Calbraith has created an EXTENSIVE and exquisite "alternate" version of Queen Victoria's world. There are recognizable elements of the Victorian Empire, its reach, and the competing and/or colonized countries. But there is also a layered world of magic that exists within this somewhat familiar history. Even with the references to real history, this book is what I would call high fantasy. There are complex political and military maneuverings as well as entire races of people and dragons to absorb. The Asian element of the story made some of the names and places a little difficult for me because, as an English teacher, I always do my best to pronounce names correctly even in my head as I read. The descriptions of setting and character alike are rich and detailed. The inclusion of a map helps keep it all straight but Calbraith's attention to specifics and detailed histories of each of these places and peoples is impressive.

The characters are equally layered. It was so refreshing to read a main character with the correct balance of adolescent cockiness and normal, developmental self-doubt. These days so many books make their teenage main character either too mature and insightful for their age or the character is so whiny I almost can't take it. Bran is ready to be out on his own and shows that independence while also admitting to himself (and occasionally others) that he may not be as grown-up as he'd like everyone to think. He battles with self-doubt but it's not cloying. Sato and Nagomi are a well-balanced pair.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fun mix of fantasy, alternate history and steampunk November 7, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
Combine fantasy with alternate history, throw in a dash of steampunk and you have The Shadow of Black Wings. This was a really fun read. Elements of fantasy like magic and dragons combine with steampowered ships and clockwork gadgets all set in an alternate version of our world where the Roman Empire still exists. Completely original and unexpected.

The world-building here is phenomenal. The magic systems are interesting but not so complex that you don't understand what's happening. There are languages here that sound just familiar enough that you know where they are "supposed"to be from. The settings are familiar but distinct. There are versions of England, Rome, China, Japan and others. They are familiar enough to make the reader comfortable in the geography but original enough to keep you interested in learning more about them.

There were a couple of things that I did not like so much. First, the point of view never technically changes but the character focus changes throughout the book without warning. I'd be reading pages of Bran and then all of the sudden Dylan was the main focus. I found it jarring and even confusing in a couple of parts. I had to go back an re-read paragraphs on more than one occasion. I don't mind changing focus but I prefer it if there is a clear delineation - either a chapter change or a "split" in the chapter (a **** between sections)

I also found the plot a little bit weak. I enjoyed reading about each of the characters and about Bran's journey but I never really knew where the book was going. I didn't know if the book was about Bran's journey, about the political climate, about the magic and dragons, or about something else entirely. I didn't feel like it was building to any real climax.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars For the Worldbuilding Lovers June 23, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
While the writing is excellent, be aware that you will need to really love worldbuilding in order to enjoy this book. If you love Tolkien's Similarion, this book is for you.

Otherwise, start reading at the start of Chapter 12, and skip the first 3/4 of the book. This is the place where the story actually starts. Any important details you missed are covered again in the last 6 chapters. This book is aptly named, as the antagonist doesn't actually make a move or do anything until the very last chapter of the book.

The rest of the book the characters are receiving very vague portents of doom, and we learn almost every nation is fighting with almost every other nation. The world in the novel is the same state as the world in about 1890s, except there is some steampunk technology, magic, oh - and dragons, of course.

The pace of the novel never gets above 'slow' until the very last chapter.

However, now that author got all that worldbuilding and omens of doom out of the way, maybe something of interest will actually happen in book 2?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars hi
I love this book I would like everyone to read it and I would like to read more of this kind of book's
Published 28 days ago by Lias Roes Night
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantasy
If you are into dragons and magic this is a book for you. It's is a fantasy world all its own, more of a world lost in time. Its a fun epic fantasy adventure.
Published 5 months ago by Kenneth W. Walker
4.0 out of 5 stars The Shadow of Black Wings
I enjoyed the book more than anything else I readed in a long time.It was interesting and I'm would like to read more books by the author
Published 8 months ago by Elaine Henry
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting story line
It can be difficult to follow all the characters. The main story line is very interesting. I did not feel compelled to continue the series.
Published 10 months ago by cbryson55
5.0 out of 5 stars The Shadow of Black Wings
I truly enjoyed this book. If you like Dragons and wars of the people with their dragons and the kinship and love between a man and his dragon, you have picked up the best book... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Lynda J Fernandez
4.0 out of 5 stars The shadow
I am reading this now and it is very interesting . Can't give a good review until I am finished.
.
Published 10 months ago by P. Johnson
3.0 out of 5 stars Was a bit too much of a dark fantasy style for me.
Some readers like novels with a "dark" fantasy plot. I just couldn't get involved with this story's style or the caracters.
Sorry, I went on to read another book.
Published 10 months ago by Sue
3.0 out of 5 stars Story okay, but split just as the action was getting interesting
I get that authors need to be compensated for their work. So, this whole trilogy strategy is understandable. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Nan
2.0 out of 5 stars Not that interesting
When I start to read a series, I want to understand where things are going and see or feel the characters
Published 10 months ago by Mauikatie
5.0 out of 5 stars Well-written. The characters are consistent, believable and...
I found the story compelling, and look forward to the next installment, I was sorry to come to the end - wanting to know how it would end.
Published 10 months ago by Ed Farnsworth
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More About the Author

James Calbraith is a Poland-born British writer, foodie and traveller.

Growing up in communist Poland on a diet of powdered milk, Lord of the Rings and soviet science-fiction, he had his first story published at the ripe age of eight. After years of bouncing around Polish universities, he moved to London in 2007 and started writing in English. His debut historical fantasy novel, "The Shadow of Black Wings", has reached ABNA semi-finals. It was published in July 2012 and hit the Historical Fantasy and Alternate History bestseller lists on Amazon US & UK.

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