- File Size: 4863 KB
- Print Length: 505 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publisher: Ao Collective Publishing; 1 edition (March 12, 2020)
- Publication Date: March 12, 2020
- Sold by: Amazon.com Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B084S3JVCB
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #382,176 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Where Shadows Lie: Book One of The Last Gift Kindle Edition
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"Just when you think the "young royal's rite of passage in a magical world' subgenre has just about played out, something like Where Shadows Lie proves you wrong..."
"Allegra Pescatore's Where Shadows Lie feels like it should be on the shelf at every bookstore in the nation published by TOR or some other huge fantasy publishing house..."
"It takes a lot to get me to commit to a book but this story drew me in and was very interesting and entertaining. Such a rich world and great character creation."
"There is action, political intrigue, and interpersonal drama in spades (sprinkled with bits of wry humor and sarcasm). The action is executed flawlessly, with easy-to-follow, exciting battles."
"The LGBTQ+ community will celebrate the inclusion, but even those of us who disagree can grow and learn from a book that does an outstanding job creating such complete characters that their sexuality is only a part of their character, not their entire (nor even the main factor of their) identity."
"...a plot that keeps you guessing and engaged, some truly terrific fight scenes ... and that's just the first fifty pages. If you like storytellers like Tamora Pierce, Holly Black, and Tanith Lee, then you're going to enjoy every minute you spend in the world of The Last Gift...and hate every minute you have to wait for the next book."
From the Back Cover
Speak the truth.
That is what Elenor has been taught to value above all else, but when her brother dies, leaving her next in line for the Throne of Lirin, truth becomes a matter of opinion.
Stand for what is right.
Gabriel thought his years of fighting against oppression were over when he agreed to assassinate the royal family. He never expected to end up helping one of them.
As the carefully woven webs of deception surrounding Elenor and Gabriel begin to unravel, Princess and Rebel must set aside their differences and work together for the sake of the Kingdom they both love.
Meanwhile, from the rainy streets of Lirin to the scorching dunes of the Mondaer Desert, the ripples of their actions have inadvertently broken a chain of events five centuries in the making. Ancient forces move in the shadows, calling in debts and striking deals. A monster with a thousand faces fingers his knife, ready to kill, and a pair of fugitives run for their lives.
With magic itself misbehaving and old alliances crumbling to dust, it is up to an unlikely group of friends and enemies to pick up the pieces the chosen one left behind.
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Allegra Pescatore’s Where Shadows Lie feels like it should be on the shelf at every bookstore in the nation published by TOR or some other huge fantasy publishing house instead of an indie title (and I say that as a fellow indie author and one who now reads more indie than traditionally-published books). It is nigh (but not quite) a perfect debut that I would recommend to any adult (more on that at the end). The biggest recommendation I can give? This will be the first time I will actually buy a book I was already given a free copy of in exchange for a review – it’s that good.
The scope is massive, approximately 33% longer than The Fellowship of the Ring (the longest volume in The Lord of the Rings), and yet it does not feel bloated. The characters are fleshed out, with all but one (the primary antagonist in this first book) having both their vices and virtues delved into in great detail. This means, going forward, we aren’t sure who the heroes and villains will be. Just like there was one obvious villain, there is one obvious hero (Elenor, the main character), but she does have plenty of weaknesses that could cause her to either fail or become an anti-hero as the story continues in later novels. The world is finely detailed, with multiple cultures that divide both along physical boundaries as well as their patron deities which affect their culture.
There is action, political intrigue, and interpersonal drama in spades (sprinkled with bits of wry humor and sarcasm). The action is executed flawlessly, with easy-to-follow, exciting battles. The personal drama and character interactions also are well executed. Though in two cases (out of the dozens), personal conflicts felt a bit forced for the sake of moving the plot, the rest felt perfectly natural given the characters’ personalities, strengths, and weaknesses. The one weakness I feel the book has it occasionally catches what I call “Phantom Menace Syndrome” – there are a few chapters of pure dialogue that are meetings to either set the political backdrop or provide updates. This is not always the case – often Allegra provides context and updates to the political situation as the characters are navigating them, and other times meetings were absolutely necessary as powerful figures indeed wouldn’t make a rash decision without bringing all affected parties to the table. Still, I feel there were a handful of meetings that could have been snipped and the information conveyed naturally as the characters act in the world.
But these are minor gripes. The book was so exciting it often caused me to stay up until 2 or 3 in the morning before needing to be at work by 9 AM, just trying to figure out what happens next. And, as I said at the start, this is the first time I couldn’t tell I was reading an indie book. Some of that was the technical quality is superior to any indie book (and even many small press books) I have read, but the main thing is the book, in spite of its length, was incredibly lean. Every word means something, advances either the plot or a character in some way, and yet there was no lack of depth in the world. That is a feat I have never seen in an indie Epic Fantasy before. If someone were to ask me to provide them a book that proved indie books can be just as good as those that come from the big publishers, this will be the book I recommend.
To clarify what I said earlier about recommending this book to any adult, there are some mature themes and scenes in this novel. Though they do not come anywhere near overwhelming the book, there are two explicit love-making scenes, many F-bombs (90% by one character), and it also contains both homosexual and bisexual characters (the last of which will be seen as a positive by many). Some people, especially of a religious background, may not be comfortable with the book because of this. However, as a devout Christian myself, I still found myself crazily enjoying the book (though I did become a skimmer during the love-making scenes). But then again, I do not share the conviction of boycotting a book that includes things that contradict our faith. While I do not include such things in my own books, I very much believe in letting characters in artistic mediums reflect real people, and all of these things are found in and are a part of humanity as we know it. Where Shadows Lie is not a story that exists to take a side and preach about our culture wars, but rather seeks to transport the reader to another world with its own conflicts and its individual characters’ conflicts within it. In fact, because the sexuality of any character is not the focus of the book at all, I would go so far as to recommend the book to some Christians I know who, for the sake of our mission of showing Christ’s love to all, need to learn to be able to see beyond someone’s sexuality (without being blind to it) for the shared humanity common to all. As CS Lewis pointed, we are called to love everyone as we love ourselves, but that does not mean we have to like everything about everyone, and, if we were honest, there are things about ourselves we don’t like either. But we still take care of ourselves and both hope for and work towards making both ourselves and our circumstances better. The LGBTQ+ community will celebrate the inclusion, but even those of us who disagree can grow and learn from a book that does an outstanding job creating such complete characters that their sexuality is only a part of their character, not their entire (nor even the main factor of their) identity.
Overall, I rate this book 4/5 stars – the missing star for the Phantom Menace Syndrome bits and two forced personal conflict scenes, and I am eager and excited for the next book!