Lord of Snow and Shadows, by Sarah Ash

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Author’s website
Publication date – June 29, 2004

Back of the Book: Combining the best of fantasy traditions with her own unique vision, Sarah Ash brings to dazzling life a new saga filled with epic adventure and unforgettable characters–set in a world teeming with political intruige, astounding magic, and passion both dark and light.

Raised by his protective mother in the sunny clime of the south, Gavril Andar knows nothing of his father—-or the ominous legacy that awaits him. But now the man who ruled the wintry kingdom of Azhkendir, a man infused with the burning blood of the dragon-warrior known as Drakhaoul–has been murdered by his enemies.

Expected to avenge his father’s death–and still his unquiet ghost– Gavril soon learns that becoming Drakhaon means not only ascending to the throne of Azhkendir but slowly changing into a being of extraordinary power and might. A being that must be replenished with the blood of innocents in order to survive…

Thoughts: The first book in the Tears of Artamon trilogy is definitely worth reading. Sarash Ash handles well the large cast, the numerous layers of politcal intruige, and weaves a deep and fascinating story without getting too bogged down in details. I’ve seen some authors try to write political intruige and have their book come off as dull and dry, and I’m happy to report that this is far from the case in Lord of Snow and Shadows.

Ash’s style is tight, with no words wasted or left out. In addition to this trilogy, she’s written a few other books which I’m going to have to track down, since her style and storytelling ability alone will be enough to keep me coming back to her novels, even if at some point the story itself happens to be less than thrilling.

I loved the fact that Ash took inspiration from Europe’s history, cultures,and various aspects of mythology in her worldbuilding. The world is familiar and yet entirely new. The mix of magic and technology, the overlap, and various views held by different people in different cultures was also a treat to see, because the way she wrote even conflicting opinions was as if both sides were right. Some authors will try to pull this off by having magic be primitive and technology be vital, or by technology being overbearing and magic being the best way. While each character has their own opinion on sciences and magics in Lord of Snow and Shadows, the narrative voice offers no bias one way or the other, and we see the opinions purely through the eyes of the characters.

My only comnplaints in regards to this novel are trivial and subjective, such as the fact that I found it hard to think of Kiukiu as an adult, or at least very close to one. The childish nickname of “Kiukiu”, plus the fact people treated her as though she were a juvenile in the early stages of the book, constantly left me with the impression that she was prepubescent, which made some later scenes in the book just seem odd. I occasionally had to take a step back from the story to remind myself that no, she’s not a little child no matter what my preconceptions were.

But again, that’s a subjective complaint. Other people may not have the same reaction.

I did, however, adore the relationship between Eugene and Jaromir, or rather the lack of a relationship that made me want to yell at the two of them to just get a room already! The relationship between then was technically that of mentor and ward, but they both acted as though it had long ago toppled over into something much more intimate. Eugene calling him “my Jaro” and embracing him, the way Jaromir was constantly on Eugene’s thoughts, and the way it seemed to him that all colour left the world when he believed Jaromir to be dead seemed a lot like Eugene felt something beyond a mentor’s affection and an interest in seeing Jaromir rule Azhkendir.

Really, I cheered for Eugene and Jaromir to get together more than I cheered for Gavril and Astasia, or Gavril and Kiukiu.

I can’t imagine myself disliking the rest of the series after such a promising start and an intruiging cliffhanger at the end, and as I said earlier, I’ll probably read more of Ash’s novels for the style alone even if the story isn’t too great. I’m loving what I’ve seen of this series so far, and can’t wait to start the second book.

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