The Shadow of What Was Lost. Book Review

THE SHADOW OF WHAT WAS LOST by James Islington
Orbit. h/b. 704pp. £16.99
Reviewed by Elloise Hopkins

Tal watches the lightning illuminate the waters of Gryth Mmorg and light up the mountains before him. There are flashes, then orange flames, and there is Tal staring into their depths. A voice speaks and he knows fear… but it will not stop him.

Davian’s scar is healed to a pale line but it still hurts just the same when those memories come to the forefront. In the North Tower there is a knock on the door and it is time for Davian to see firsthand what punishment is placed on those Gifted who violate the treaty.

But Davian has other concerns too. The Trials take place in three weeks yet he has not been able to use the Essence for considerable time. His talents appear to lie elsewhere now, but what fate will he meet when the Administration discovers that? Still, there are chores to do, so appropriately guarded Davian leaves the school for the first time in months and heads into the township of Caladel.

The story follows Davian and one of his close friends, Asha, giving the reader two leads, both unwillingly thrust into a new life and forced to come to terms with the things they now can do and cannot do. The narrative is carried by these two main characters, which for a book of this length means a steady pace and an uncomplicated plot.

There is a very traditional feel about this story and it is thus understandable why it is benefitting from so much comparison to Robert Jordan’s works, although this first book in the series is not packed with quite enough to slide fully onto that shelf. Islington gives us named swords, a chosen one or two, a magic that is yet to be fully explored, large conflict looming, hunters and hunted, a couple of nice twists, and in The Shadow of What Was Lost we have a solid, enjoyable series opener.

Originally self-published in 2014 this does sit comfortably alongside several other traditional series and it will be interesting to see how Islington develops the series over time and experience. There is a lot to like, and a lot more to find out, but for a book of this length, at the end, one cannot help feel that something was missing. Explanations were not always forthcoming and whilst this is a good start there needs to be something more on offer next time.

About Phil Lunt (885 Articles)
Hailing from the rain-sodden, North Western wastelands of England, Phil has dabbled in many an arcane vocation. From rock-star to conveyor-belt scraper at a bread factory, 'Dairy Logistics Technician' to world's worst waiter. He's currently a freelance designer, actor, sometime writer/editor and Chair of the British Fantasy Society. He is on the Global Frequency and is still considering becoming an astronaut when he grows up.