Sunday, 10 July 2016
DARK FANTASY REVIEW: A GATHERING OF SHADOWS BY VE SCWHAB
A Gathering of Shadows by VE Scwhab
A darker Shade of Magic set up the characters to see if we'd take to them. Judging by the fact we have a sequel novel, we did. Two of the most interesting ones is the book Kell the magician and Delilah Bard, the pirate woman seems to have got our interest. One of the things this book intrigues readers with are the many novels that feature games pageants in them after the success of the Hunger Games series. I can think of one other Titan Books title that has done this with a readership who will lap it up.
Here we follow Lila's story as she is left tied-up on a sinking ship. Helped by the pirates of the Copper Thief, she thinks she still might be in danger despite the captain's hospitality, as these men haven't seen a woman in a long while. Lila still feels the danger is warranted as they might use her in a ransom demand, so in her own style she dons her mask and sets about taking over the ship. But first she has to first dispose of its crew. She realises that a ship can be taken over, and another captain installed with ease if she does it right and Alucard Emery is the captain Lila intended to take over the ship as he and her have a history, and we find out, a lot to catch up on.
Schwab sets out chapters that bounce from current time to four months back like episodes of Arrow. These show that Lila has coped with the loss of walking away from Kell to go alone without him where she was in Red London, or knowing the language. Schwab has a way of letting readers see into the minds of the characters. With only a gift from Kell, Lila made a decision to go it alone, knowing that there would be consequences for a woman who deals with pirates and even lesser men. Lila is a strong heroine, bold, gutsy she doesn't know when to stop even when luck isn't on her side. She doesn't trust easily as she likes to show anyone who crosses her path what she is made of. In Red London the men view magic as more worthy of their attention than belief in the gods, and for good reason. Lila steps in and out of trouble quickly in each chapter, and readers get a great mental view of Red London in all its glory, lust for power, greed and danger in every path.
Arnesian is the main language spoken there and Lila tries to learn it, hoping she can fit into this new world she felt she fell into. We as readers will also be able to pick it up as Schwab has used each Arnesian word and put an explanation at the side to help. I can see this being the new fantasy language en vogue, without doubt. Meanwhile elsewhere, Kell is back with his brother and has to protect him wherever they go, as after last time, Kell will always be under scrutiny for letting him go alone before.
The Element Games was the real draw for this story (other than the handsome Kell) as there will be several competitions, one that will stick in Kell's mind.
Several men and women are on the roster for the games and Kell wants to learn more as the event draws near. Kell shows how much of a magic user he is, being able to use his mind to combat enemies, this being a skill that is seen as forbidden as "it broke the cardinal law: that none shall use magic, mental or physical, to control another person." If anyone did, limiters would be used on the magic user as punishment. Kell had gone through every portal into the London realms where trouble brewed. His stay in Red London being just as dangerous, he muses on the other Londons he travelled to and the feeling of empowerment he has after his last confrontation being met with his brother.
Readers who enjoyed the previous novel in the series will enjoy the way Schwab has structured them both to appeal to those who want to read about both the different Londons, their kings and enemies, and friends besides the characters we have known. Lila is the strong warrior, Kell and his brother show the conflict brothers tend to have when they both have different personalities, but are also fun to read. Kell has all the qualities of a man who can wield a lot of power, but who is also a force for good. A Gathering of Shadows is an epic story worthy of being made into a movie so millions don't miss out on an excellent saga of worlds and the people who exist within them.