Series: The Six Kingdoms #1
Genres: Epic, Fantasy
In The Shadow of His Wings, a miner’s son, Lukan Barra, joins forces with the beautiful and unpredictable Rui Ravenstone, his brother’s former lover, in an attempt to be the first to reach the lair of the Erseiyr, the god and monster whose great wings shadow the future of the land, and whose fate becomes linked with Lukan’s in a strange and wonderful bonding.
The first book in the Six Kingdoms series, The Shadow of His Wings is set at the end of the first millennium in Myrcia. The novel opens with the estrangement of Lukan from his criminal brother, Vearus, who returns from exile with the secret of healing and transformation of the flesh that gains him power second only to Myrcia’s despotic ruler, the Sanctor Grouin.
An invading army from Skarria is threatening the capitol city of Castlecliff and Lukan is press-ganged into military service, barely surviving the battle of Dawn Horse Hill which only temporarily halts the Skarrian onslaught.
Grouin declares the throne open to anyone who can secure the intervention of the fabled Erseiyr—the immortal winged creature worshipped and feared by Myrcians—who lives in a mountaintop cavern filled with tribute of ages past. Lukan, thrown unjustly into prison after the battle and then mysteriously released, resolves to claim the prize of the throne.
Holy crap, what a little gem of a find. I’m surprised this hasn’t had a bit more traffic on Goodreads and Amazon, especially when Robin Hobb has given it five stars on Goodreads! This was originally published alllll the way back in 1988 and has recently been republished by the author himself. I certainly hope he gets more readers to take notice because it was a very well written and entertaining book.
I’m not even sure where to begin. The book sure felt longer than 290 pages. I was given so much of the world without info dumping that it seems the book should’ve been way longer.
The bad? My biggest sadness? Lack of magic, but it’s offset with some nifty creatures and some good action scenes. Other than that, all I have for you is too much description. Keep in mind, I’m a bit of an anti-description reader so the paragraphs—especially towards the end when things were going crazy—got skimmed by me. I know from what I sifted through that it added quite a bit of imagery to the scenes, but I was too damn frantic to find out what was going on that I didn’t care much about anything else. The middle might have dragged just a hair for me, too. When Lukan was off on his own, it took me a tiny bit of determination to plunge onward. I was richly rewarded with an amazingly fast-paced ending.
There’s a beautiful part at the end of chapter one that had me ensnared pretty quickly:
“And I doubted myself as I never had before, questioning whether my offer of the royall was made with an innocence of spirit or whether the message to my brother was: see how selfless I am, how generous, as you are not.”
This is a first person narrative in Lukan’s PoV. He was an interesting character. I wasn’t obsessed by him, but I was certainly captivated by his story. It started out with such a lovely melancholy note that I had no problems immersing myself in the story. He hasn’t had what one would call the trope fantasy backstory (honestly, it was a rather mundane life he led), but a few events really impacted him and his relationship with his brother. It added great depth to his character which otherwise would have happily walked the path of a completely good guy. Though Lukan never loses himself or wavers in his honor, it’s kinda thrown in his face by others. It makes that good guy seem like a person and not some hero who never doubts himself or faces ridicule.
Lukan’s brother was equally interesting, though we didn’t spend a lot of time with him. Still, what we’re given of him paints a nice complex character. Rui was the main female in the book and I didn’t love or hate her. I felt she was a bit too wishy-washy for me towards the end. It would have been nice to play up on her evolving relationship with Lukan just a bit more towards the end, but it didn’t distract from my enjoyment in the least.
The world was nicely done and I think strikes a good balance between world and characters. I was given a lot of names at first. I’m usually not one to get hung up on this stuff. A good writer will roll it out nicely and give you little reminders here and there to keep you on track. I felt comfortable with what Fergusson poured onto the page and I can only remember maybe two or three times where I was lost for a tiny bit before he set me straight. There’s a codex available on Amazon (click here) and one available on his website (click here).
The writing itself was smooth and I easily entered my reading trance. I never got hung up and Fergusson impressed me enough that I’ll definitely be continuing on with the series. For those of you who hate cliff hangers or series in general, feel free to pick this up. Though it is a part of a series, it ended with satisfactory closure; you wouldn’t know there’s a second book unless someone told you. There would be no need to continue unless you loved Fergusson’s writing and the world he created.
So overall, a great read and I just found myself a new author to follow. I definitely recommend this book!