The Shadow Of What Was Lost / James Islington

Title / The Shadow Of What Was Lost 
Author / James Islington
Publication Date / 2016
Star Rating / ★★★.5
Goodreads synopsis: As a student of the Gifted, Davian suffers the consequences of a war fought – and lost – before he was born. Despised by most beyond the school walls, he and those around him are all but prisoners as they attempt to learn control of the Gift. Worse, as Davian struggles with his lessons, he knows that there is further to fall if he cannot pass his final tests. But when Davian discovers he has the ability to wield the forbidden power of the Augurs, he sets into motion a chain of events that will change everything. To the north, an ancient enemy long thought defeated begins to stir. And to the west, a young man whose fate is intertwined with Davian’s wakes up in the forest, covered in blood and with no memory of who he is…
This is the first book in the Licanius trilogy and is the author’s debut book. I thought this was a solid introduction to this trilogy, although it wasn’t perfect. It took me a little while to get into it but after a couple of chapters I was invested in the story. The world is well crafted with an interesting magic system, although I did want more detail on certain things throughout the book. I wanted a bit more on the different cultures of this world specifically.  Overall though the world is rich in detail. There are two types of magic users in this world – Gifted, who are able to tap into the Essence, and Augurs, who were once viewed as almost Gods. There is a school for those who can tap into the Essence and if you fail to graduate from this school you become a Shadow, a second rate citizen. I really liked this world. It is clearly well thought out and has a lot of potential. I’m looking forward to seeing how it is expanded on in the future books. I will admit to the characters being a little generic, but they are still well written. You’ve probably seen similar characters in other fantasy books but Islington still manages to keep them compelling. The character development is also well done. However I think some of the minor characters were a little flat. This book does have quite a few characters to follow but they are all distinctive. If you are not normally a fan of multiple perspective, than it is perhaps something to be aware of. Personally I think it worked quite well this time and grants the reader a larger scale of the events of the book. I know it can sometimes be quite jarring to switch perspectives but that wasn’t the case this time. I would also say that this is quite a character driven fantasy, so that’s probably something to be aware of too. The pacing is a little uneven at times but the plot is generally compelling throughout. At it’s very core this is a coming of age story with quite a few twists and turns along the way. Intrigue plays a part as well, which I am a big fan of. There is a few instances of the plot dragging, especially during some of the travelling scenes. Overall it was kind of long winded. One thing I got a little frustrated with was that characters would be told to do something and told how important it is, but there is very little explanation as to why. They just kind of accept it and go. Maybe that was just me. Having said all that I think this book shows great potential and I definitely excited to see how things progress in the next two books. There was just something about this one that I didn’t love it but it’s still a good read.
Overall this was a good book and a solid introduction to this new world. It does have a lot of traditional fantasy elements/tropes but it is still an enjoyable story. Although it’s quite a hefty fantasy I think it was pretty accessible and so could be a good place to start if you are new to the fantasy genre. I will definitely be checking out the sequel, An Echo of Things to Come, when it comes out in paperback early next year – the hardback is out now. I would recommend checking this out, if you are interested by the synopsis. I also just want to mention how great the covers are – definitely some new favourites. Have you guys read this book? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.
Pippa

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