Why I Read It: Fun read along; awesome book.
Where I Got It: Own it.
Who I Recommend This To: High fantasy and epic fantasy fans would enjoy this book.
Publisher: Mercury Retrograde Press (2011)
Length: 504 pages
Series: Book 1 The Way of the Gods
Ellion is our reluctant hero. A man of many talents, and some failures. He has walked away from one obligation after another, mostly for good reasons even if the affects have not suited anyone involved. A warrior, a harpist and bard, a magic user, Ellion is one of the most dangerous men in the land. He knows it, and tries to leave it all behind. The story opens with him insulting a good friend, and mighty ruler. So he leaves under less than pleasant circumstances to adventure through the Tanaan lands. the Tanaan are not humans, but do maintain some few trade routes and a mutual interest in music.
Unfortunately, misfortune follows Ellion and an assassination attempt lies floundering on his bedroom floor by his own hand. The Tanaan lord is less than sympathetic. In fact, we see Ellion bump up against cultural differences left and right even as the beauty and matriarchy of the Tanaan lands seduce him. Or is it Ellion who does the seducing? He does enjoy chasing the skirts, our hero does. But will it land him in yet more trouble…on top of all the other trouble he already has? Dude better start making a To-Do List of stuff he needs to set to right.
Letitia is the leader of her clan…sort of. Her mother was the leader, but she simply rode off and disappeared years before our book begins. Letitia is on her way to have her rulership recognized by one of the main spiritual centers of the Tanaan. Of course Ellion bumps into her one afternoon, just in time to save her from the Basighilae, the enchanted dead warriors who will wreak havoc throughout the book.
Here is Chapter 1 of The Shadow of the Sun by Rachael Ish:
This is high fantasy at it’s best. The book is balanced between action and character introspection. Ellion weaves his swordmanship with magic, creating a deadly force. Yet he is also doubtful about his rightful place in the world, having been a part of a horrible accident, having declared himself unworthy to the world at large. Letitia carries the burden of leading her people, but has not had the guiding hand of her mother during her key development years. The deities also come down from on high to tip the tide one way or another. Other magic users, plenty of swordwomen, nearly everyone is an accomplished rider, jealousies of power and people, and a touch of romance fill this book. The characters are complex, with no one being ultimate evil or ultimate good; in essence, real people populate these pages.
The writing itself flows easily, with carefully chosen phrases portraying the culture, setting, and social norms of the characters. Legends and myths are built into the world providing an ancient feel to the tale. The Tanaan’s world is crumbling due to lost knowledge after a great calamity. Ellion’s world is built on centuries of expectations. If I have any complaint, it is a mild one: Ellion repeated too often his self-doubts without explaining fully to the reader for several chapters.
Let’s mention the sex. There are some sex scenes and they move the story forward, providing insight into the characters involved. I also appreciated the few mild comments that hint that at least some of our characters play well with both men and women. I also like that we see the women so very interested in the men without attaching shame to their honest desires.
What I Liked: The lyrical wording; lots of world and character building; Ellion is complex and sometimes I wanted to slap him upside the head and sometimes I wants to pick up sword and shield and cover his back; warrior women!; addictive magic; nasty, nasty tricks by the bad guys.
What I Disliked: Occasionally, we hear too often how unworthy Ellion feels himself to be; the ending left one or two things I would have liked resolved in Book 1, but I can definitely look forward to seeing them in Book 2.
This is my second reading of The Shadow of the Sun and it was awesome to share it with others in a read along. The author, Barbara Friend Ish, also played along answering questions and providing insight into her work. Big thank you to her! If you want to read more about this book, check out the read along posts.
Once Upon A Time, hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings, is the fantasy genre event of the season. There’s still time to join the fun!