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PB, 296 pages, Writers Exchange E-publishing


“The Shadow Seer” is the first volume in what looks likely to be a six-book series by Swansea based fantasy writer Fran Jacobs.  The book has had a long gestation, but was finally published by Writers Exchange in Summer 2011, and has been worth the wait.

Candale, Prince of Carnia, is a sickly boy, plagued by fits.  Far from being a hero, when the reader first meets him he is on his deathbed, and is only saved by the magical intervention of the witch, Mayrila.  But she has revived him for her own purposes, believing that he is the Shadow Seer, the long-heralded prophet for a demon, who will foresee the end of the world.

This twisting of long-established tropes puts a refreshing spin on the genre, and Candale is an endearing character, likeable and convincingly human.  The book is a little thin on action beyond a few set-pieces, but it’s by no means slow.  Jacobs takes plenty of time with her characters, fleshing out the complex relationships between Candale, his family, and his friends, but she’s not hesitant to provide chills when needed.

This is an assured, confident debut, and I hope the ongoing story lives up to the promise of the first volume.