About the Book
When Caleb Rusk meets a wounded stranger on the open road, he finds himself pulled into a struggle that threatens to change the course of his life forever. With help from a hammer-wielding mercenary, a drifter girl with a heritage of magic, and an eccentric sky pirate, Caleb must find a way to escape the clutches of a shape-stealing demon and flee halfway across the Realm to the village of Timberford.
But even that distant haven is far from safe. A swarm of mysterious shadowbeasts terrorizes the village, and Caleb’s bond-brother, Carvesh Tarne, is drawn into the heart of the conflict, risking everything to protect the ones he loves.
Meanwhile, in the capital of Taralius, a string of inexplicable deaths has captured the attention of the Ember Throne. Second Corporal Avendor Tarcoth and the sage Tiberius Alaran are tasked with uncovering the truth behind a danger that could threaten the very fabric of the Realm.
Riven Realm’s first book is called The First of Shadows and that is the story I reviewed today. The First of Shadows is an action-packed fantasy with all the elements of a fantasy story that I love – magic, totems, flying ships, and an underdog to route for.
What I Liked
I love the character, Caleb Rusk. As a result of a past event, Caleb lives with a permanent limp, causing people to underestimate his abilities and resolve. I love a good underdog story. They are easy to connect to and remind me that good can triumph even in less than ideal situations. It also reminds me that you can’t let any physical challenges define you. And, Caleb is the great protagonist of an underdog story.
I liked the world-building. In this story, I felt like the world’s description provided me with a good foundation of understanding how this world works. From religion to transportation, to the sociopolitical hierarchy and framework, it all came to life in a fun and unbelievable ways. I particularly love air travel, which is described as sailing vessels that, instead of going through the water, can fly through the clouds.
I love the magic, particularly the totems, which are beasts that particular magic-wielders bond with. Caleb’s owl totem, Azental, is fascinating, and the story about how they melded is fascinating. The magic system is very detailed and intricate. I’m not sure that I fully grasped it after reading this first story in the trilogy, but I would imagine that I would understand a great deal more about that system by the trilogy’s conclusion.
The story is action-packed from the very first scene. It keeps the pages turning quickly and relays the direness of the situation successfully. The evil the protagonists fight in each of the action scenes is so insidiously evil. I look forward to understanding more about it in upcoming stories.
To Read or Not to Read
If you love action-packed fantasies, this should be your next read.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.