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An Echo of Things to Come (The Licanius Trilogy) Hardcover – August 22, 2017
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"Islington's magic-soaked setting has plenty of opportunities for conflict between competing powers even as earth-shattering evil approaches. Epic fantasy fans will enjoy this dense, suspenseful adventure. "―Publishers Weekly on An Echo of Things to Come
"Reminiscent of Robert Jordan or Brandon Sanderson, Islington's writing is refreshingly fast paced, with a light and clever touch."―Booklist on An Echo of Things to Come
"Fans of this genre will find themselves immersed in the magical battles, suspense and backstabbing political intrigue."―RT Book Reviews on An Echo of Things to Come
"Islington's natural storytelling ability provides incessant plot twists and maintains a relentless pace...A promising page-turner from a poised newcomer who's well worth keeping tabs on."―Kirkus on The Shadow of What Was Lost
"Islington has built a world with all the right genre elements: complex magic, terrifying threats out of legend, political intrigue, and a large cast of characters whose motivations are seldom clear. Fans of doorstop epic fantasy will not be disappointed."―Publishers Weekly on The Shadow of What Was Lost
"Love The Wheel of Time? This is about to become your new favorite series."―B&N SF & Fantasy Blog on The Shadow of What Was Lost
"Storytelling assurance rare for a debut . . . Fans of Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson will find much to admire."―Guardian on The Shadow of What Was Lost
"The plot twists are unexpected, the world building is fascinating, and the fledgling love story is a charmer.... This sweeping and compelling epic is ripe for a sequel."―Booklist on The Shadow of What Was Lost
"The Shadow of What was Lost is an engrossing fantasy debut.... The twisting and complex storylines, fascinating characters and inventive magic make for a fun read packed with plenty of mystery."―Book Reporter
About the Author
James Islington was born and raised in southern Victoria, Australia. An avid fantasy reader for many years, it was only when he read Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn series that he was finally inspired to write something of his own. He now lives with his wife and daughter on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria.
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"An Echo of Things to Come" follows the same main four characters of its predecessor: Davian, Caeden, Asha, and Wirr. Islington chooses not to add new perspectives, but continues to tell his story entirely from their viewpoints. While in the first novel the characters were largely together on a journey and took part in the same events, in "Echo" they have spread across Andarra. The characters do interact, but on a smaller scale. Each one has their own plot and character arc to engage in.
Islington provides a detailed synopsis/summary of "Shadow" at the beginning of the novel, which helps set up and keep track of the characters. That being said, I'd recommend re-reading the first book before jumping into the sequel (and not reading this as a stand-alone at all). With the threads of the story becoming more and more spread out, the demand on the reader grows. Helpfully, there's also a glossary of characters and terms in the back of the novel this time around.
The plot is good, but not incredible. I found it to be appropriately predictable (the type of predictable where you have a hint at what will happen next, and when you're surprised previous hints become obvious), and very well paced. The weight of the story falls on Caeden's shoulders - an amnesiac who discovers that he is in fact a legendary figure at the end of "Shadow" - and felt very much like the other story threads were interspersed with his. This isn't explicit in the structure, but just as Davian had a great deal of "screentime" in the first novel, so Caeden does in the second.
Caeden's sections and characterization are why I loved "An Echo of What Was Lost." We get to watch in the backseat as an immortal of immense power re-discovers his tragic and bloodsoaked past. Caeden and his fellow Venerate (the other 8 legendary immortals he has known for millennia) are the centerpiece and shining star of "Echo." Their ancient history together is well-conveyed, and crafts an emotionally compelling tale.
The great question of this novel is if El (God) is who he claims to be, and what actions are correct to do in service to the divine, or to the greater good, and so on. It might not be a novel for all tastes (I find these moral questions fascinating), but for me it was wonderful. Even though I'm fairly certain what Islington's answer is regarding the identity of El (as known to the Venerate), I finished the novel still not-quite-certain that Caeden et al were on the correct side.
I'm not sure I've ever read a fantasy with such delicious, fitting ambiguity.
Caeden's plot was easily my favorite (is it obvious?), but the others weren't lacking. All in all, "Echo" answers most of the many questions left in the air at the end of "Shadow." Each character arc gets a conclusion, and the cast is brought back together for the final climax.
The biggest complaint I have is that the climax felt weak. The largest portion takes place from Asha and Davian's perspectives. Islington does a good job with following his themes of self-sacrifice and moral choice; however, just before the final choices are made a battle occurs in Asha's perspective which feels very out of place. That battle feels like it's just a 'battle for final battle's sake,' and seemed a bit formulaic and disappointing.
On the upside, the epilogue was spectacular. Throughout the story we receive Caeden's memories through a sequence of triggered visions, and a good portion of the epilogue is one final, astonishing recollection.
I look forward eagerly to "The Light of All that Falls."
How effortlessly it builds upon the mythology is something to behold. The amount of back and future story that interweaves into the current plot can make my head spin. To be blunt, this series is not for the casual. It requires effort to keep it all straight. If the story was even a four star quality book I might not have kept looking up the Glossary to make sure I had the right person or term straight. Yet this book is so good that I gladly did it.
The biggest drawback of this book is same as the last book. Mr. Islington does a lot of telling instead of showing. Way to many times he tells you what a person is feeling instead of letting the characters actions show you their feelings. A lot of young authors do this. They do not trust that the audience will get it unless they spell it out. If he can get better at this one thing I think he will stand shoulder to shoulder with the greats.
I am giving this book some extra credit. There is so much more I need explained about back and future story moments that the third book will really show if this is to go down as one of the greatest works in fantasy of all time. So far I would say it is two for two!
This book sheds some light on the first making that one a better book. Some truly great twist happen. Simply put I cannot wait to read it again... and again. I truly hope this series finds a larger audience. It deserves the attention of a Mistborn or a Game of Thrones.
PS. If you have any questions or comments on my review, or if you just want to discuss how awesome this book is feel free to hit me up in the comments.