Shadowfall: Book One of the Godslayer Chronicles
(Orbit, £10.99, 470 pages, trade paperback, published May 2005.
Orbit, £7.99, 674 pages, paperback, this edition published May
2006. Roc, 2005. U.S. $24.95 / Canada $36.00 hardcover. ISBN: 0-451-45994-6.)
the world of Myrillia the Gods live amongst men; their excretions so
filled with the essence of magic that they are collected to fuel magical
processes and engines. They can also die amongst men, and when one is
slain suspicion falls upon a man. Tylar de Noche, once a Shadowknight,
now a broken husk is branded Godslayer and pursued by the order that
cast him out. Possessed of a god's magical essence and with a demon
imprisoned within him, Tylar and his few friends must solve the mystery
of the slain god to clear his name. His search takes him through the
realms of gods both fair and foul to the citadel of the eldest god;
Shadowknights and dark creatures dog his every move as a conspiracy
to overthrow the rule of the gods is slowly revealed.
James Clemens has created an interesting and colourful variation on
the standard fantasy world, particularly with the Gods. I did like the
use of the Gods' humours as fuel for magical flying machines and submarines.
He could have made so much more of this though. The reader gets little
sense of how this world works, how the common people live and think
as very few common people feature in the story. The interesting question
of how the theology works when the Gods really do live on earth is unaddressed.
pacing is sound enough with action scenes turning up every few pages,
but it is with the characterisation that I have the greatest problems.
The difficulty is that the POV protagonists, Tylar, his ex-fiancé
Kathryn ser Vail, and the young acolyte Dart, do not really protag.
Other people make the decisions that drive the plot and the characters
merely react to them. The prime example is the thief Rogger, who Tylar
meets early on in the story. Rogger most conveniently, seems to know
a back entrance to every castle and a dodgy merchant in every port and
guides Tylar's initial escape from the Shadowknights. A few chapters
from Rogger's POV would have been interesting and possibly made the
events feel less random. Overall the most sympathetic character is the
young girl Dart, and she has least to do.
James Clemens is an experienced author with five previous books to
his name. I do not think it unreasonable to expect him to exploit the
opportunities that he created in this book in a more satisfying manner.
Could do better.
Elsewhere in infinity plus: