The Shadow Of What Was Lost
Fans of the Wheel of Time, you've found your new Jordan in the form of Islington.The Shadow of What Was Lost has been the closest thing I've read to The Wheel of Time since, well, I actually read The Wheel of Time, minus some of the stupid idiosyncrasies Jordan threw into his works.This is the first book in a trilogy, and it's vast. Did I mention it feels like a book that Jordan came back to life to write through someone else? I mean, this is a book Jordan might have written in his early years, had not written The Wheel of Time instead.Ancient evil stirring. Check. A trio of callow youths forced into the greater world full of dangers and strange creatures trying to kill them? Check. Different cultures? Check. A complex magic system? Check. A mythology that spans thousands of years? Check. A Rand-Al-Thor character who's lost his memory? Check. Action, adventure, political intrigue, treachery, betrayal, and teenage angst? Double fucking check.Want an even more WOT reading experience? Then listen to the audiobook version. The audiobook narrator, Michael Kramer, is the same person who narrates The Wheel of Time, The Stormlight Archive, and Mistborn. He's also one of my favorite audiobook narrators and narrates some of the best fantasy audiobooks out there.So I highly recommend you listen to the audiobook. It's bloody damn good and with Audiobook King Kramer reading it, you'll almost feel like you are in the middle of some alternate universe version of The Wheel of Time.The Shadow of What Was Lost is a wildly entertaining to read from start to finish. The author manages to take some very familiar tropes and weave together something entertaining. It's a book that's defined by the influences around it, yet still manages to do the traditional, well. If one would call The Shadow of What Was Lost a clone of The Wheel of Time, they would not be without reason to make such a claim. Yet, if this is a clone, it's a clone that's well made, and built from the DNA of the source, but in many ways, improved upon.So yes, it's is possible to enter the most cliched of stories and, by strength of your world building and story, still make your own mark on the genre. And yes, even though the influences of The Wheel of Time are clearly marked in this story, there's enough that's new (and completely different) there so it's far more than a simple clone.This book is an outstanding example of doing the traditional epic fantasy tale right. This is not some complicated subversion of the fantasy genre or some grimdark tale where the 'villains' are called 'heroes' on the book flap description, where doing evil shit and calling it moral ambiguity is edgy and cool. No, this is very much the traditional good versus evil, with heroes and villains. However, Islington does a good job at complicating the good vs evil conceit by putting his heroes on either side of the line and forcing them to deal with emotional turbulence.So it's a traditional epic fantasy, but the author does inject more ambiguity than say Jordan does in The Wheel of Time. I also appreciated how the author was not shy about throwing in violence and death. People do die horrible deaths. This book is not as expansive as The Wheel of Time was. The narrative and scope feel smaller, there are less 'places on the map', the evil more personal, and the story more focused. But Wheel of Time it does feel like still, just a smaller, more pocked sized version of it.So look, if you love Lord of the Rings, The Wheel of Time, or The Storm Light Archive Books, you are going to really love this outstanding example of traditional fantasy done right.Even more surprising, this is an indie novel, but feels like something a well-established epic fantasy writer like Jordan would cough up.Absolutely read this. Even more so if you are a fan of The Wheel of Time. Despite the heavy influence of Jordan, The Shadow of What Was Lost is it's own entity.As they say in Thailand, 'Same Same but Different' Read this one guys -- one of the best indie books I've yet read. I lost a night of sleep finishing the 25 hour audiobook. And to me, that counts as something well worth recommending.The sequel (An Echo of Things to Come) takes everything in the first book and expands it, delivering a deeper, more developed story and fixing many of the shortcomings of the first book. The first two books are absolutely a must read for anyone who loves The Wheel of Time.