Book Review: the Shadow of What Was Lost by James Islington

One of my newest holiday traditions is to read a book at the same time as one of my friends and then discuss the book as we both progress. I picked the book for this year because it’s actually rather complicated to find new books for us to read. The Shadow of What Was Lost by James Islington (fantasy 693 pages) was chosen because a local bookseller recommended it for people who like Brandon Sanderson, the Wheel of Time books by Robert Jordan, and massive world-building video games.

“As destiny calls, a journey begins. It has been twenty years since the godlike Augurs were overthrown and killed. Those who once served them – the Gifted – were spared only after accepting the rebellion’s Four Tenets, which vastly limited their powers. Davian suffers the consequences of a war lost before he was even born. When he discovers that he wields the forbidden power of the Augurs, he sets into motion a chain of events that will change everything. To the west, a young man whose fate is intertwined with Davian’s wakes up in a forest, covered in blood and with no memory of who he is … And in the far north, an ancient enemy begins to stir.”

This is probably the largest fiction book I’ve read in a long, long time. I read the entire book during the two days I spent on the train, traveling for the holidays. This book is definitely the first book in a series, which means the book ends at a place mostly okay for the main characters but there is definitely a lot left unresolved by the end of the first book. I was tempted to go out and buy the second book when I returned from my holiday travels but then I realized the third book in the series is due out in 2018. I think I’ll wait until the third book comes out before I buy the second because I feel like there’s just so much going on in this series that I’ll likely want to reread the first book and then binge the second and third books.

A lot happens in this book and there are a lot of characters. I found it mildly difficult to tell the characters apart and I wasn’t sure who I was supposed to be paying attention to because random deaths happened throughout the book. It’s probably just me, but I felt like the characters didn’t really have any discerning characteristics that would let me know they were different people. No one was particularly witty or generous or spoke differently which made it complicated for me to tell who was who, except by categorizing them internally as “the chosen, yet powerful nerd”, “the athletic jock”, and “the token female/love interest”. Though another woman does enter the story later, she is also used as a love interest. The characters don’t seem particularly special or memorable, but the mystery of Caeden is fairly intriguing and I think the next books will provide an interesting look as to concepts such as “good guys” and “bad guys”, which the end of this book touches on a bit.

Overall, I’d say this book is probably a high two on my rating scale. It’s not particularly memorable at the current time but I am curious as to what happens with the revelations near the end of the book. I think I’ll wait until I’ve finished reading the entire series before I make a final judgment call as to whether I’m happy I own the books or not.

Islington, James. The Shadow of What Was Lost. New York: Hachette Book Group, 2015.

About C.A. Jacobs

Just another crazy person, masquerading as a writer.
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