The Shadow of What Was Lost- James Islington
It's been a few months since I've been able to get on here and post a review, I have finished a good number of books in that time, most were rough at best, but definitely read some real top tier as well. Unfortunately this post isn't one of those top tier books. I am going to do a general review and will try to keep spoilers to a minimum but still be wary of spoilers if you still haven't read this book.
Here's a brief synopsis of The Shadow of What Was Lost by James Islington. Might I mention this is the authors debut so keep that in mind as well.
It has been twenty years since the end of the war. The dictatorial Augurs—once thought of almost as gods—were overthrown and wiped out during the conflict, their much-feared powers mysteriously failing them. Those who had ruled under them, men and women with a lesser ability known as the Gift, avoided the Augurs' fate only by submitting themselves to the rebellion's Four Tenets. A representation of these laws is now written into the flesh of any who use the Gift, forcing those so marked into absolute obedience.As a student of the Gifted, Davian suffers the consequences of a war fought—and lost—before he was born.
Despised by most beyond the school walls, he and those around him are all but prisoners as they attempt to learn control of the Gift. Worse, as Davian struggles with his lessons, he knows that there is further to fall if he cannot pass his final tests.But when Davian discovers he has the ability to wield the forbidden power of the Augurs, he sets into motion a chain of events that will change everything. To the north, an ancient enemy long thought defeated begins to stir. And to the west, a young man whose fate is intertwined with Davian’s wakes up in the forest, covered in blood and with no memory of who he is…
So this is my second time reading this book did a buddy read with a friend of mine and we will continue this series, but this presented quite a few issues. Right off the bat the tone of the writing was very YA. This continued through the entire book but it improved slightly by the end. Like I said it was a debut so I'm willing to look past it especially if it improves in the remaining two volumes.
The premise of the book is very derivative upon reading the synopsis but the level of this exceeds at least my personal preference. There are name changes, city changes, etc but there is more than a dozen instances where a scene felt like it came right out of A Wheel of Time. A few instances can be chopped up to a new writer finding inspiration in WOT and that's fine, but It definitely feels slightly cringe to read as you get through this book. We can only hope that the overt instances of this are dampened a bit by the end of the trilogy.
Pacing- The pacing of this book is erratic at best. One minute action, action, action, then multiple chapters that you just try to get through as quickly as possible due nearly nothing happening. Along the same vein new characters, items, creatures, magic systems are brought up almost indiscriminately. It's just when you're adjusting to new characters, new plot lines other things are thrown at you. It makes for a less than smooth reading experience.
Characters- Having finished this about a month ago I can definitely say that none of the characters stood out. Well I misspoke. Ash stood out but not in a good way, I feel like she was just dumped into the story and left to meander along barely affecting the narrative. Of the three main Characters, Davian, Wirr and Ash(alia), they are rise to prominence very quickly and inherit power/abilities/responsibility much faster than they should have.
It was difficult to pick out something from this book that I enjoyed, at least one could get to that conclusion by reading this review. Even with all these criticisms I feel like it can appeal to a specific audience, maybe a younger audience who haven't delved deep into fantasy. I've seen this book given 5/5 reviews and although opinion is mostly subjective, that's just unfathomable.
I will pick up An Echo of Things to Come but I am not in a hurry to do so. I am cautiously optimistic about it. The fascination of this book I may never understand other than saying just have higher standards when you read, like there's great books out there, but this one fails to meet the mark.
Regardless I still give this a 3/5 for being above average, albeit slightly but I hope I can give Book 2 a higher grade.