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With The Shadow of What Was Lost James Islington delivered a superb story set in a carefully constructed world of detail and colour. Most of all he gave us an engaging set of characters which for Audiobook listeners were brought to life by Michael Kramer’s excellent narration. In doing all of this he set himself the daunting task of doing it all justice with the remainder of the trilogy. The good news is that with An Echo of Things to Come he has done just that! This really is an excellent effort but to my mind at least it does come with a couple of minor caveats and health warnings.
The book has a different feel to it. The exuberance of youth is now largely stripped from these characters and they have been aged considerably by their experiences. They seem possibly a little too mature too quickly in some ways. This second book also has a more multi-layered and complex feel to it. For those like me without the greatest of memories a refresher of the story before you start is highly recommended. You can of course re-read the first book but if you haven’t already seen it check out audfans where one of their give-aways is a twenty minute synopsis of the story up until the start of this book read by Michael Kramer. There is also a very useful glossary and map on the author’s website.
Even with that there is an awful lot to keep track of in this one. So many characters have multiple names which are swapped in and out regularly. Some characters take over other characters and Caeden rebuilds his memories with the story frequently and abruptly flashing between the current time and those memories plus of course with the augurs occasional visions of the future. Producing such a story is a very impressive achievement but, and it may of course just be me, there was a little too much of that complexity going on. I suspect a second reading will tease out a lot of nuances that I missed despite regular rewinds during my first navigation of this book.
It is genuinely epic fantasy with depth, action and a thorough authenticity. It took maybe more effort from me to get the most out of it than books even in this genre tend to but the investment was most definitely worth it.
12 of 16 people found this review helpful
After the first hour or so, I started to doubt this book. The lighter tone of the previous book had been left behind, and we seemed to be spending an awful lot of time in flashbacks to Caeden's clearly complex, and not entirely pleasant, past - with only brief moments with Davian and the rest of the team. I needn't have worried - the book gathers momentum, and this complex fantasy continues to deliver as hoped for.
There is so much more going on now, and the characters are all going their own ways, only circling back to each other periodically. They've matured significantly since the first instalment, and I found myself wondering if I'd assumed their ages incorrectly? There is no "padding" in this second instalment: once you get your head around the flashbacks of Caeden's memories, and the timeline challenges that presents, then this story unfolds cleverly, layer upon intricate layer. Lots of complexity for those who like a properly constructed epic fantasy. So much has fallen into place by the end of book 2, but there is clearly so much more to come. A huge final chapter/epilogue - that I was not expecting, and left me reeling a little - it ties a few things up cleverly but leaves all the double ribbon ends hanging out ready for book 3!
I admit to really struggling with names and keeping track of who was who (despite listening to these books in quick succession) There is an enormous cast of characters, who can be known by multiple alias's.....(like I really needed even more complexity after the other-worldliness of their names in the first place!)...... Searching on Licanius and wiki took me to the Fandom website, which has some Licanius pages, including a character page. Joy! (as an audiobook fan, I often have an "ah-huh moment" when I see the names actually spelled out). SPOILER ALERT: be careful what you read on these pages - some serious spoilers included. Makes for good post listen review though.
This is an excellent series to date - here's hoping book 3 completes in the same style.
Narration is Michael Kramer - no more need be said.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
I adored the first book, and have been checking on Islington's website, waiting for this one to come out. And, no surprise, it's good. It was worth the wait, and probably worth the year or two wait until the third book.
But, wow, do I wish that Islington put just a little tiny bit of effort into exposition. This story spans thousands of years of history across many countries and peoples and hosts 7-10 point of view characters, and yet he spends very little time reminding us who is who and what is what. One of the things that makes this story great is just how many mysteries are nested inside of other mysteries. But it's next to impossible to know what's supposed to be a mystery and what's something that my poor forgetful mind forgot. A few throwaway sentences would have done wonders clear up many questions: what's a Dargathan? What's a shateth? Where's talen gol? Etc, etc.
I'd whole heartedly recommend this series, but I'd tell people to wait until the third book is out, and read them all in one go. Anything else is a little painful. Great story, but painful.
36 of 40 people found this review helpful
This series is incredible. It's got great action. Love the magic. It is a true epic fantasy. Not sure how it will only be a trilogy.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful