When Shadows Fall by Bruce Blake*
Best Bitts Productions, October 1, 2013 (Epic Fantasy) My rating: Beach vacation
“A hundred hundreds seasons ago” the Goddess banished the Small Gods to the sky”, leaving humans alone on earth. The prologue of this epic-esque fantasy (-esque because it’s a bit too short and I don’t know yet if there will be three, or fourteen, in the series) captivated me. It opens with the cataclysmic events that sets the prophesy sequence in motion. The prophecy is the key.
Post-prologue, Prince Teryk is our main character, a bored, cocky young man who, when exploring the castle with his sister one day, finds an arcane scroll in a long-abandoned room. He learns of the Small Gods, their history, and their return (as prophesied the scroll). Teryk is convinced that it is his destiny to save the world from the return of the Small Gods, and the destruction of humankind. His story (and Danya’s), is not the only one the reader follows. N’th Ailyssa Ra is a woman who worships the Goddess at a temple in an unspecified location. Disturbing worship that entails bearing female children and continuing the line. Enclosed in a temple, never seeing the outside world, conjugating with men at regular intervals, and marking periods and pregnancies and births with chalk on the walls of their rooms. There’s also Horace Seaman, a crude sailor who finds himself overboard a becalmed ship as a monster rises from the deep. And Thorn, a childlike creature who traps and bargains with birds.
Teryk plots to follow his destiny, Danya prepares to go with him, while their sword master and guard, Trenan, works hard to protect them. N’th Ailyssa struggles to face her uncertain future, Horace Seaman fights to survive in the strange land where he washed ashore, and Thorn contrives to escape his prison.
The tenuous connection between such disparate protagonists added to the suspense and intrigue of the story, and kept me reading to figure it out. There are lots of plot surprises, hints, and foreshadowing. All in all, my enjoyment of the stories was increased by the mystery of the prophesy and how all characters and stories connected.
Although this book has epic fantasy sympathies, it is much more palatable, with a slightly quicker and often more streamlined pacing, a slightly smaller number of characters. I will be interested to read how everything fits together, and how the prophesy plays out in future installments.
Caution: some very crude and explicit language in Horace’s chapters.
*e-ARC provided by NetGalley
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