'Shadow' by K.J. Parker

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Posted by Lyra (26th Oct 2001, 12:15)

Originally published in Wyrmtongue October 2001.

A man awakes, surrounded by dead bodies with no memory of who he is or how he came to be there. The only clues to his past are his insurmountable skill with the sword and the occaisionla dream. Alone and with no way of recapturing his memory, he moves from village to village posing as a god for food and money. Events then start to unfold around him and it seems that everyone he meets seems to die.

It is acclaimed as a "book...that takes fantasy fiction into remarkable new territory". Now, I have to admit that I've never read anything quite like this, but it does have recognisable elements. The wandering Hero; the not-quite-helpless female constantly needing rescuing; the middle ages feel; the invading barbarians and the murdering religious sect. It has no magic, no geas, no fantasy creatures, but it is still just another tale.

The story is told from several viewpoints, the constant changes and dream sequences are merely confusing. The plot lets nothing away until the end and even then you are left waiting with no real sense of an ending.

But, the characters are fairly believable. There are no major holes in their make-up. I found myself liking them and had the setting been any better, I would probably have enjoyed it. As it is I found it dull, colourless, uninspiring and although I rarely give up on a book, in this case I would have made an exception.

I would most definitely NOT recommend this as a book and I will not be reading the sequel in the trilogy. There's a surprise, a fantasy trilogy!! I would say this book is a complete waste of paper and if the author disagrees, perhaps she would like to get in touch and explain to me the plot.

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