A Shadow in Summer by Daniel Abraham
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This will be a short review as I actually finished this book a while back, and it wouldn’t be fair trying to outline more than the big pictures given my horrible memory.
I really wanted to give this book more than 3 stars. On a scale of 10 it would have been a strong 7. And the reason I wanted to rate it higher is simple: It is not you ordinary run of the mill fantasy. No any orphan discovering their destiny as kings/magicians/gods. No cheesy love story (but a nice triangle, if you know your Arthurian legend you’ll be right at home). A unique magic system. And so on.
However, I never really got gripped by the characters, and I never believed in the story, and here’s why: The magic system, unique as it is, is presented without limits. In this book we’re led to believe that there is *no* boundary in sight; one single “demon” can reach out and rip every single unborn baby right out of their mother’s womb. Literally. From a continent away. And naturally the first thing I ask myself is: why don’t they?
So let’s get abstract for a moment: why don’t they? In any believable world there will be people taking advantage of power, and if you introduce magic that is controllable, you need to explain why the greedy, evil or power hungry has not taken over the world. If you’re going to employ magic make sure there’s things you can’t do, and make sure your readers, who don’t have the implicit knowledge of your characters, are told. You don’t have to go to Harry Potter extremes, nor Eddings but both are examples of magician stories, and within both it is clear that you can’t do everything you want, that there are boundaries for you might.
Power without boundaries is meaningless.
So no, I didn’t really get gripped. I probably will read the rest in the quartet. But not for a while. There’s a lot of other books out there.
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