- File Size: 3034 KB
- Print Length: 338 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publisher: Hidden Gnome Publishing (December 30, 2014)
- Publication Date: December 30, 2014
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00RE68P8C
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,149 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Of Shadow and Sea (The Elder Empire: Shadow Book 1) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 338 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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"Children of Blood and Bone"
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut. Learn more
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The biggest deal breaker for me is the main character. She has no personality to speak of. Her primary character trait is she is "lazy", which means nearly every chapter includes her saying or thinking, "I'm really annoyed I have to do X, because I could be sleeping instead". I can't remember the last book I read where a single character trait was hammered into the reader's head so frequently. It stopped being humorous or interesting by about page 30. It is hard to imagine how a character this flat ended up with with a love interest.
Another big downer for me—and this one I can't really pin on the author because it is just a genre trope—is that I'm sick to death of the "superassassin in fantasy" schtick. You know, the one where some street urchin is taken in by a shadowy organisation and, in a world of 15th century technology, undergoes so much training that they can kill hundreds on a battle field of people with a single fork.
The underlying plot is actually kind of interesting once you make sense of it. The problem is that (I assume) that author is being elliptical about the motivations and characterisations of the "bad guys" because that's all covered in the other book. I love the concept of "two books about the same situations from different view points" but I wasn't satisfied with how it worked out in practice. There were just too many sections where characters didn't ask obvious questions about the motivations of the "bad guys". The result was that the characters, and the readers, jump from one set piece to another with no real understanding of how they are connected other than Gandalf/Bayaz/stereotypical-fantasy-leader keeps telling them where to go next.
By the time I got to the end I was tired of the way the plot was handled and the thinness of the main character. Which is a shame because it FELT like the plot was just about to start getting interesting with all the stuff about emperors and dead gods and politics and whatnot. But by then I felt like I was ready to give another author my limited reading time.
The book itself is also split in two. There's the "present", and then there's the flashbacks. The book alternates between these two every chapter. It's a bit too much of the flashbacks, and fragments the story further. After a break I was at times unsure if I was reading the past or the present. I think the flashbacks should at least have stopped around halfway with more focus given to the present moving forward.
But even though there are problems, I like the story and the world, and I'm interested to see it develop. The tone is quite dark, an ancient all-powerful monster is stirring from its long "death", but factions want to use its power instead of killing it (again). The magic is very powerful, but comes with drawbacks, and non-mages can access it in various ways which levels the playing field. The protagonist is a bit single-minded, she mostly just wants everyone to stop bothering her, but there's potential for growth.
If you're reading this, then you probably know that Wight actually wrote 2 "first books" of the series, the other being Of Sea and Shadow. They both cover roughly the same time period and intersect at various points, but follow two different main characters, allowing us to see the same events through two different perspectives. There is no suggested order to reading these books, but I imagine that whichever you read first will color your bias towards the other character.
This book features a flashback system that is very reminiscent to Sanderson's Words of Radiance. The perspective is almost all the main character Shera with a few other POV's sprinkled in, but there are regular flashbacks that flesh out Shera's back story. Similar to Words of Radiance, there are momentous events in Shera's life that have greatly shaped who she is in the present that are hinted at throughout the book and are built up to in the flashbacks. Also, there are short asides at the beginning of each chapter that help us to learn how the world and its magic work, which is a good thing because we're tossed into the deep end, so to speak.
I'm reading the companion book, Of Sea and Shadow, now, and it will be interesting to see if my pro-Shera bias is maintained as I read the perspective of the other main character. I admit, I was sad to see that the world of The Traveler's Gate trilogy wasn't going to be expanded upon, but I enjoyed this book quite a bit.