Review: The Shadow Spinner by Eric Kao

Category:

Fantasy

Rating:

Introduction:

Tales speak of a formidable sorcerer whose Thunder could Tear the sky apart, but they neglect to mention the part where the Storm wiped tables for nearly two decades.

Minstrels sing of a powerful fighter whose Strikes could fracture the earth, yet they typically skip the verse about the Sign of Doom being a loving grandmother.

Story tellers whisper of an intelligent ruler whose Brilliance could Illuminate the planet, but they frequently forget to acknowledge that the Secret Sun is a swindler and a thief.

When N’Halia’s house burns down, a wandering Shadow Spinner named Hermit rescues her from the flames without seeming to be affected by them. N’Halia joins Hermit on his enigmatic voyage to learn how to fight and unleash her true Potential, with the aim of becoming the most formidable mage in all of Dome.

Review:

First of all my sincere thanks to Eric Kao for providing me this advanced reader copy even after its official publication date.

The Shadow Spinner by Eric Kao was a good start to a great series with a lot of potential. While the central concept may not be entirely original, the story’s many intriguing ideas provide a wealth of material to explore in future installments. One aspect of the story that particularly captivated me was the concept of The Created, inhabiting The Peaks, and their contrasting counterparts, The Twisted, dwelling in The Pits. While there is always room for growth and refinement, it is no doubt that Eric Kao possesses a gift for writing. The story was action packed and flowed well and I was introduced to a lot of new interesting characters as the story progressed.

However, despite having great promise The Shadow Spinner has it’s fair share of weaknesses as well. The world building was extremely poor. I found myself unable to conjure up any mental images of the cities or characters described in the book, and I felt that the fascinating backstory could have been better integrated and elaborated upon in the narrative. The magic system in the book was not adequately clarified, and I was left feeling perplexed about certain magical terminology used in the story, such as Influence, Enlightenment, and Approximation Event (although I could roughly guess), until I consulted the Index at the end of the book. Furthermore, I couldn’t help but wonder if there is such a thing as an excessive amount of action. The first two-thirds of the book were dominated by an unending succession of combat scenes, ceaseless training sessions between characters, and battles fought for monetary or reputation gain. Perhaps the most significant drawback for me personally was the constant shifts in perspective that occurred every few sentences in certain chapters. This frequent alteration of viewpoint ultimately left me feeling drained and exhausted.

All in all, The Shadow Spinner is a decent start to what could potentially be an engaging series. However, I feel the author needs to take the necessary time to refine the narrative, introduce more pauses between the action-packed sequences, and focus on deepening the character arcs as the series progresses. If these issues are addressed, the series has the potential to become a truly compelling work of High Fantasy genre.

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