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The Shadow of What Was Lost


The Shadow of What Was Lost

Davian, like many of the Gifted students at the school in Caladel, was worried about the upcoming Trials. It is the moment when he finds, along with his closest friends, if they have the power to use Essence or if they will be doomed to live as Shadows. Even though life is difficult in the Kingdom of Andarra for the Gifted, limited as they are by the conditions of the treaty that controls their powers, being a Shadow is a far worse fate.

A 15-year-old orphan who was raised at the school, Davian has never shown promise harnessing or controlling Essence. However, before the Trials can begin, he meets a stranger named Ilseth Tenvar who will set him off on a dangerous journey that will take him across the land, and in and out of time, in preparation for a coming war of good and evil. The hardest part for Davian and his comrades, though, will be figuring out who they can trust in a landscape of dark power and hidden motives. So begins James Islington’s THE SHADOW OF WHAT WAS LOST, the opening volume in his Licanius Trilogy.

"THE SHADOW OF WHAT WAS LOST is an engrossing fantasy debut.... [T]he twisting and complex storylines, fascinating characters and inventive magic make for a fun read packed with plenty of mystery."

At the start of the novel, Davian is an innocent. He is innocent even of the memory of the infamous attack he was the victim of three years earlier. But upon leaving the school with his best friend Wirr, and leaving behind another friend, Asha, he embarks on not just a great and terrible adventure, but on a swift path to adulthood.

Islington’s world is not dissimilar to many in the fantasy genre: vaguely medieval and tinged with an ancient magic. Familiar as well would be many of the plot points as kings, wardens and shadowy figures vie for political control. Davian, Wirr and Asha, each with his or her own secrets and surprises, are separated and reunited, and separated again, as the action draws them in different directions. Loyalties are tested repeatedly as the first battle between the citizens of Andarra and the brutal army called The Blind begins to rage. Will Wirr’s power and diplomacy secure a victory for his people and a newfound freedom for the Gifted? Will Asha’s magical battle plans help her friends? What role does Davian play in the current tensions and in what is to come? And how are Davian and Caeden, a young man accused of a massacre, connected to the 2000-year-old evil adversary called Aarkein Devaed?

THE SHADOW OF WHAT WAS LOST is an engrossing fantasy debut. Though occasionally the names and places in the novel are an obstacle to a good flow, the twisting and complex storylines, fascinating characters and inventive magic make for a fun read packed with plenty of mystery. Thankfully it lacks any of the requisite romance found in so many fantasy novels, and for the most part the main characters feel like real, albeit extraordinary, teenagers. In fact, though there is a good bit of violence, this is a book that could easily find a YA audience as well.

Despite some flat and dull spots, THE SHADOW OF WHAT WAS LOST is a solid book, and Islington will have a chance to smooth out the narrative and stylistic bumps in the next two installments of the trilogy.

Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman on November 18, 2016

The Shadow of What Was Lost
by James Islington

  • Publication Date: May 9, 2017
  • Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Fiction
  • Paperback: 736 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit
  • ISBN-10: 0316274070
  • ISBN-13: 9780316274074