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Do you want to be on the edge of your seat when reading this wondering what on earth is going to happen next to the main characters in this the first part of 'The Godslayer' series by james Clemens?
Do you want to be even more engrosses in the adventures which befall Tyler and his companions then read Hinterland the second book in the series?
Do you want to be left on tenterhooks waiting to see how our heroes we have come to know and love overcome evil in the third book? Well James Clemens has managed to succeed in all three.
Clemens drags the reader into the world of Tyler De Noche disgraced shadow knight who has been crippled while serving on a slave ship. We discover Dart, a young girl who ends up serving the Gods and how their stories intertwine and are paramount to the outcome of a war between the gods themselves.
Clemens manages to create believable characters in an unbelievable world and pulls the reader into his world with fast crisp writing. I originally purchased this book on publication in UK because I had been so impressed with his series 'The Banned and the Banished' which I thought to be the most original fantasy series I had read in many years.
Beware though, as I said earlier Clemens leaves us on tenterhooks at the end of book 2. Why, most authors do that to make sure you buy the next part in the series. Unfortunately Clemens abandonded this series after the second part in order to concentrate on his financially more rewarding career as adventure author James Rollins.
Hopefully he will see sense sooner rather than later and return to do what he does best. Honestly his books Rollins are average adventure fare while his books are Clemens are masterpieces of the fantasy genre.
As a fan of fantasy novels, I picked this book up as I liked the sound of the synopsis, having never heard of James Clemens. Clemens is one of the pen names (used when writing fantasy) of Jim Czajkowski, an American former vet who also writes under James Rollins (adventure/thrillers).
"Shadowfall" is the first book in the Godslayer series and was written in 2005. The second book in the series is "Hinterland" which was released in 2006 and more books are to follow.
I have to say I was impressed with the fast pace and easy access to the land of Myrillia - something that is not always possible in fantasy novels as they can be quite confusing as you try to work out where the setting is etc. A map is included at the front of the book in order for you to get to grips with Myrillia, which is helpful.
The basic plot is not entirely original but is still engaging. The protagonist is Tylar de la Noche, a fallen Shadow knight who is now crippled after being sold into slavery. He witnesses the murder of a goddess who tranfers her powers to him before dying, leaving him whole again but accused of her murder.
The plot switches between Tylar and Dart, a young girl with mysterious powers, which keeps the fast pace and your interest peaked. The plot follows Tylar and his group as they fight to clear his name and save Myrillia from a grave threat.
There are a lot of characters in this book and the background to it all can be a bit confusing. In essence Myrillia is a land that has been "settled" by Gods made flesh - these Gods (known as the Hundred) tie themselves to certain areas of the land and imbue it with their Grace. The Grace of the Gods is their power and is expressed through their humours - sweat, blood, tears, seed/ menses, black bile, yellow bile, phlegm and saliva.
The Lands without settled Gods are known as the Hinterlands and are areas where rogue Gods can be found. These Gods are rumoured to be mad and dangerous as they refuse to settle.
The Shadow knights are an ancient order sworn to protect Myrillia. They are imbued with Grace in order to blend in with the shadows and fight more effectively.
Another powerful group are The Wyr, a dangerous and shunned group who seek to birth a God from flesh. They experiment on their unborn children and generally produce abominations instead of the Gods they desire.
The characters are generally quite predictable but they are still involving. Tylar is an honourable man, left bitter and broken by his fallen Knighthood and spell in slavery. He is shown to be a basically good man who has sometimes bent the rules and this has come back to haunt him.
Tylar meets up early on with Perryl - a young man who was once his squire and whom he was training to be a knight. Perryl is a good young man who doesn't believe the accusations made about Tylar (both past and present). Perryl mentions Kathryn (also a Shadow Knight) - Tylar's former betrothed. Kathryn testified against Tylar at his trial and sealed his fate. He only escaped death through the intervention of Ser Henry, the Warden of the Shadow Knights.
Kathryn is shown as a strong and capable woman. She is still doubtful of her involvement in Tylar's trial and worries that she did the wrong thing by not lying for him. She is soon made the Castellan of the Shadow Knights when a new Warden is elected. She suspects that she has been given this position due to her past ties with Tylar - now known as the Godslayer.
Rogger is a thief who meets Tylar in prison after the murder of the Goddess Meeryn. Rogger quickly becomes Tylar's sidekick and is not what he seems. He provides a bit of comedy throughout the book.
Delia is a Hand of Meeryn and becomes involved with Tylar after realising that he is imbued with Meeryn's Grace. She believes that Meeryn gave her power to Tylar so that he could avenge her.
Dart is a young orphan who has been brought up in an exclusive school which trains children to become the Hands of Gods. The Hands are used by the Gods to handle their Graces, which are stored as they are valuable. Each humour has its own Hand and these Hands are regularly replaced as being exposed to the humours causes them to age faster.
Clemens has done well with his characterisation of Dart and you really feel for her in her isolation and fear. Dart has a mysterious companion called Pupp who only she can see. No-one knows where Dart came from, other than the fact that the late Headmistress of the school rescued her from the Hinterlands as a baby.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this book for the fast-paced fantasy romp that it is and would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes the sound of the synopsis. Sometimes it can be a bit formulaic but you only really notice this if you have read any of James Clemens' other work and to be honest it doesn't spoil the story.
I subsequently read the first of the Banned and the Banished (Clemens' first fantasy series) and would definitely class Shadowfall as stronger and generally more appealing in style and content.
I would urge fantasy fans to give Clemens a try and be pleasantly surprised.
This review is also posted on ciao.co.uk under my username.