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A Plague of Shadows (The Harbingers of Light Book 1) Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
I am a lover of fantasy and adventure books and this book satisfied both of those. Love the characters, the world. Travis Simmons does not disappoint! His world building skills are crazy and I can't wait to get started on the next book in the series.
The author’s bio of himself and the synopsis of this book gave me the impression that I was in for a good read and well-crafted world.
At 45 pages, of a very short 113 pages, I can tell that my first impression was wrong. What I thought would be an interesting new world to dive into, feels much more like a rough draft in need of revisiting.
Travis Simmon’s A Plague of Shadows is easily 2 stars.
The very first chapter was confusing. I had no idea what was going on. Names and mythologies were thrown about without a great explanation. I think this is meant to be a world-building scene but something more is needed.
Then the author just jumps right into what felt like the middle of the story. Suddenly you meet Abagail and her family. Suddenly there’s a mysterious portal to another world. Suddenly the bees are dying, there’s a love interest, and darklings are attacking. What?
As of chapter five, the main character appears to be dying. Whoa!
And the father of the protagonist, neither of whom we really know well at all, is suddenly not who the protagonist thought him to be. And he’s sending his daughters into another world, one that he didn’t think would be safe for them in the first place. Huh?
What in the heck is going on?
A lot more is needed here. The story needs more world building, the plot needs a much slower evolution, and the characters need to be developed so that we even care about them. The prose needs to be a lot less choppy as well; everything is in short paragraphs which also adds to the feel that nothing is being explained and the story is moving much too fast.
Slow down, Mr. Simmons!! Build your world to be intricate and dynamic, give your reader time to know your characters, and for All Father’s sake, throw in some suspense! What is the rush?
Travis Simmons has put together nifty combination of Norse mythology and his own imaginative world-building, creating a unique universe in which to spin tales with familiar touchstones and wholly new ideas. He has taken element of the Noise cosmos and given them original names, which I found was a nice way of signalling that while this universe may be inspired by the Eddas, Epics and Sagas, it was not a retelling of any of the older stories.
"A Plague of Shadows" is the first book in the "Harbinger of Light" trilogy, in which we meet Abigail - a young woman who has found herself having to step into a more adult role of caring for the home and honey farm after her father is injured in an accident - along with her younger sister, Leona, and their neighbour Rorick. They live on the world of "O" which has been under attack from darklings - shadowy creatures capable of performing evil magic and tend to leave death wherever they've been. Touching or otherwise coming in contact with a darkling puts a person at a high risk of being infected with the darkling's shadow and become a darkling themselves.
When Abigail shows symptoms of the plague, her father decides it's best to send her to Agaranth, the world he originally came from and where his brother and sister still live. That world is also beset by darklings, but unlike O - where the Light Guard "cleanses" anyone who comes down with the plague and punishes people for even talking about the magical or mystical - people on Agaranth have learned to control the plague and even make use of the magic abilities it brings. Because Leona it's showing signs of becoming a budding seeress, which is, of course, heavily frowned upon by the Guard, and Rorick's parents are dead, Abagail's father sends them with her on the journey.
Of course, things don't go quite as planned, and that's where the meat of the story kicks in. I was actually surprised how fast the book went. At one point, I'd thought I was no more than maybe a third of the way through, only to find is been reading longer than I'd thought and was nearly 3/4ths done. It's a truly engrossing story.
The scene where Abigail and friends travel from O to Agaranth is remarkable in describing the World Tree and the rainbow bridge connecting to each of the nine worlds and a heavenly-like plane (with hints of something much darker below.) A guide they meet on the bridge tells them (and us) about this universe and some of what may lie ahead, but because the information is presented while the characters are also exploring this core of the cosmos, it flows more naturally than such expository passages sometimes can.
I have to admit part of the fun for me was in recognizing where's he's included Norse elements in somewhat different guises and under somewhat different names and how the old and new mesh together - but he's done this smartly so that even if you've never heard of the Norse, you can still enjoy this tale.
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