THE SHADOW SEER – BOOK ONE VOLUME TWO by FRAN JACOBS
PB, 353 pages, Writers Exchange E-publishing
“The Shadow Seer” is a hefty book, split George RR Martin style over two slimmer volumes. I reviewed Part One on “Making Things Up For A Living” a few months ago, and now, with the second book imminent, I’m reviewing the second part of the first book – are you keeping up at the back?
The second volume opens where the first one ended, with troubled Prince Candale’s arrival at the mysterious, crumbling mage school of White Oaks, a haven for persecuted magic users and young princes fleeing their destiny. There he delves into the intricacies of the Rose Prophecies, determined to uncover the truth behind his burgeoning gifts, and his fate as the demon Ellenessia’s prophet, the legendary Shadow Seer.
Candale has grown in confidence in this second volume, perhaps a mark of Jacobs own increasing confidence as a writer. But he is still an innocent abroad, nervous and sometimes infuriatingly naive as he stumbles into his first halting romance with Hazel, one of his classmates at White Oaks. Half the fun as a reader is being able to spot what’s screamingly obvious to everyone except the narrator, in this case the growing attraction between Dale and the bard Teveriel, which Dale seems completely oblivious to.
The action in the book is split between White Oaks and Dale’s home at Carnia Castle, where the witch Mayrilla makes a welcome reappearance. Her malevolent presence, untrustworthy as a three-headed snake, is a highlight of the book, provided stark contrast to Dale’s wide-eyed naivety and openness as they grapple to control his restless soul.
This isn’t a book for those who like their action fast and punchy. The story unravels at a leisurely pace, lingering over fine detail, stretching out Dale’s torment into a final denouement as shocking as it is bloody. There’s no doubt our young narrator is going to have to wise up fast in the next volume if he’s to save himself and take control of his gifts.
It’s certainly an ending that leaves you thirsting for more.
Fran Jacobs will be appearing at BristolCon on October 20th, and her books will be on sale there – www.bristolcon.org