After centuries of calm, the Nameless One is stirring. An army is gathering; thousands of giants, ogres, and other creatures are joining forces from all across the Desolate Lands, united, for the first time in history, under one, black banner. By the spring, or perhaps sooner, the Nameless One and his forces will be at the walls of the great city of Avendoom unless Shadow Harold, master thief, can find some way to stop them (goodreads.com).
Shadow Prowler has been in my to-read list for quite some time. I was hesitant to read it because I knew it was translated from Russian. I also didn’t know what a Russian fantasy novel would be like. I finally decided to read it, and I can say that I am glad I did. Though it’s not as good as some other books I have read, it is still a great and enjoyable read.
The main story is about Shadow Harold, a master thief, who must retrieve what is called the Rainbow Horn in order to save his land from the evil one known as the Nameless One. The book moves along at a great pace, didn’t seem to be too predictable, and was rather funny. I was impressed by the author’s world building, as well as the descriptions of the different races and their origins. I also loved hearing about the history of the land. There is just enough detail throughout the story to picture where you are, but not so much that it becomes overwhelming. I also appreciated that the book wasn’t too violent, which can be pretty typical for adult fantasy novels.
An element of many fantasy novels is magic. In this series magic is a bit different than you would expect. There is shamanic magic which is slow and ritualistic, and there is mage magic which is faster, but more inaccurate. They both have their advantages and disadvantages and are rather complicated. I have to say that I am fond of this different take on magic and can’t wait to learn more about it.
What you should know is that this book pretty much sets the stage for the entire series. We are introduced to the plot, characters, and history of the land. Just after the main quest began the book ended, so you will have to read the next one if you want to continue the story.
I am loving the characters in this series! Harold is the main character of the story. He is confident and witty, is good at stealing, and avoids direct contact by sneaking around and hiding in the shadows. There is also Kli Kli who is a very memorable character. He is the kings court jester, who is rather annoying at first, but you will come to love him later on. He is definitely more than what he seems.
There are the usual fantasy characters within this story including elves, dwarves, gnomes, orcs, ogres, goblins, and humans. What I really liked is that they seem to be a little different than what you would expect. For example, dwarves would never have beards and gnomes wouldn’t be seen without one. I really enjoyed the alteration of the elves as well. They are related to the orcs, have fangs, and there are both dark and light elves.
The translation wan’t horrible, but I am sure it would flow better in Russian. There are tons of tense switches mainly in the first half of the book and some character names are a little confusing when reading. One person’s name is For, which I was always confusing with the word “for”. The only other thing about the writing that bothered me was that important historical events that had their own chapter were written in italics. Reading entire chapters in italics is not that enjoyable. However, I did like that these events were separated from the main story to make it less confusing with the past and present time jumps.
Even though this book is marketed as an adult book, I would recommend it to young adults as well. It is by no means the first fantasy book a young adult should read, but anyone who loves fantasy and has read a few others would enjoy this book.
I really enjoyed this book (though it’s not as good as the Black Company), and can’t wait to read the next one. I have to find out more about my favorite character (Kli Kli) and the fate of Harold! I just wish there was a map of the land, so I could follow the characters on their journey and better understand the lay of the land.
My rating: 5/5 stars!
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*photo provided by goodreads.com