The Shadow Cycles by Philip Emery. Book Review


Immanion Press, 216pp, l/f p/back, £12.99

Reviewed by R A Bardy [@mangozoid]

In his own words (and an extended Appendix herein subtitled The Tarot of Sword-&-Sorcery) Philip Emery says The Shadow Cycles is his attempt at a redefinition of form for sword-&-sorcery [sic] in the twenty-first century, and as part of that process he has attempted to formulate and deploy a ‘new’ tarot, trying to focus on the form’s beginnings and also, potential. He spends a fair bit of time ‘dissecting’ Robert E. Howard’s  works, in particular the Conan tales, with a slight   nod to Tolkien’s ‘High Fantasy’ in LotR and concludes that a good combination of violence and the supernatural is potentially the ‘new’ sword-&-sorcery.

For my part, I’m really sorry, but I found a lot of it just jibber-jabber – and as if to top it off this story is so far from the worlds of either Howard or Tolkien that I think the author does a huge disservice to both, and himself.

In brief, The Shadow Cycles tells the story of five characters from different realms brought together to partake in a final apocalyptic battle against a ‘dragon’ of sorts, fought through a series of stages and it is sooo boring… really, truly, genuinely boring… The entire book feels like a first draft and in desperate need of some tighter editing in so many places. I would consider myself relatively well-read, but never in my life have I had to reach for a dictionary so many times during a single book. Words like quinquereme, tatterdemalion, porphyry, chalcedony, lazuli, sardonyx, dolerite, agate and the slightly less obscure ‘tegular’ are liberally sprinkled throughout, like some kind of stone/quartz lexicon gone mad. Every one jars considerably leading to an ultimately uncomfortable and irritating read from start to finish. Very very annoying, and impossible to recommend. Sorry.

About Phil Lunt (936 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.

1 Comment on The Shadow Cycles by Philip Emery. Book Review

  1. I tried reading this one and sadly felt pretty much the same about it.

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