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Age Range: 12 and up
Series: A Tale of Light and Shadow (Book 1)
Print Length: 400 pages
Publisher: Shadow Mountain (September 9, 2014)
Source: From Publisher for Review
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Enter Atolas, a world where swords and daggers both extend life and end it; where magic is feared by all but a few; where feuds and friendships influence kingdoms and courtships. Henry and Isabelle have secretly sworn to marry despite his lowly station. Though Henry is but a carpenter, his devotion drives him to commit an unthinkable act that may cost both of them their lives. Unknown to either, a dark prophecy has set in motion events which will affect not only them, but the thrones of rulers throughout all of Atolas by eclipsing the world in shadow. But all is not lost while hope remains in the guise of an unlikely hero and the strength of friendship.
About the Author:
Jacob Gowans was raised in Papillion, Nebraska, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in theater studies, and then moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where he graduated from dental school at Case Western Reserve University. Jacob and his wife and three children live in Arizona where he works as a dentist for the Indian Health Services. A Tale of Light and Shadow is his first published book.
True love is worth the fight as the characters in a “A Tale of Light and Shadow” get swept up in a world of light, lies, darkness, and love. Henry Vestin and Isabelle Oslan are two souls who were meant to be together, but forces beyond their control are working against them and the quiet, happy life they had planned. After Henry courageously risks all for his lady, their lives and the lives of those who help them are endangered. The band of friends, Maggie, James, Ruther, Brandol, Henry, and Isabelle, form friendships and struggle to trust each other and their secrets along their perilous journey.
This book hooked me from the start. It was mysterious and secret, hinting at a world battling between light and dark, love and deception, as we start off being jostled around in a bumpy carriage. I loved getting lost in the world of Atolas. There were small nuggets of information through the book that shed more light on the world and it’s kingdoms. It kept the story exciting as I tried to guess and piece together the puzzle that was being created.
Henry and Isabelle belong to each other and naively believe that love will see them through a quiet life as Henry continues to develop his skills as a master carpenter. Henry and Isabelle both trust too easily and fall into the trap of those possessing no moral compass. Henry especially experiences growing pains throughout the story as he learns the consequences of implicitly trusting those around him. It was an interesting thing to think about-what happens when you trust too much and someone you love uses that trust to hurt you, whether intentionally or unintentionally? What must one do? Henry battles with these decisions and the weight of being the unspoken leader of his group. Not only do his decisions affect him and Isabelle, but the lives of his friends as well.
I connected with Ruther and Brandol as well. Ruther is drunkard and storyteller who does prove helpful at various times throughout the story. However, some of his poorest decisions affect their little traveling party. Such things make him appear unlikable for a time, but there are moments where his true character and heart shine through. I ended up cheering for him in the end.
Brandol was really a sad soul. I felt bad for him. He showed a great deal of weakness, the result of poor parenting on the part of his pathetic parents. The other characters in the story pity him, as he appears more and more cowardly, fearing his fate to the point of making errant choices. However, when he is called upon, he becomes an unsuspecting hero. I loved his development and he really captured my heart.
I cannot wait to get to know other characters better in future books. Both Isabelle and Maggie are brave, strong willed, and full of their own depth and mysteries. It’s really enjoyable to see strong female characters, especially in a fantasy setting like this. Their inner strength shined through, though I may not have always agreed with some of the decisions they made.
The antagonists in the story are riddled with mysteries. I really felt myself loathing the emperor. But he was also intriguing. He is selfish and self- serving and one can see that those two flaws could result in his downfall. His General is a wonderful character as well. His mysterious background is only hinted at, and we see a little of the struggle he has between faithfully serving his country and emperor and doing what is morally correct. I’m sure this will be explored further in the future as well, and I hope that the goodness I felt in him wins over in the end.
If you are looking for a great, clean fantasy book to read, this will not disappoint. There is a great deal of action and suspense, but the characters’ inner workings will grab you and keep you booing or cheering until the last page.
You can also grab a FREE ebook, a short prequel for this book called “A Fool and His Dragonox” on Amazon. It’s only 49 pages and a great read!