Sunday, May 9, 2010

Shadow Magic

Led to victory by its magic-fueled Dragon Corps, Volstov has sent a delegation to its conquered neighbors to work out the long-awaited terms of peace. Among those sent are the decorated war hero General Alcibiades and the formerly exiled magician Caius Greylace. But even this mismatched pair can’t help but notice that their defeated enemies aren’t being very cooperative.

The truth is even worse than they know. For the new emperor is harboring a secret even more treacherous—one that will take every trick in Alcibiades’ and Caius’ extensive arsenal to unveil. And once it is revealed, they may still be powerless to stop it.

With their only ally, an exiled prince, now fleeing his brother’s assassins, the countryside rife with treachery and terror, and Alcibiades and Caius all but prisoners, it will take the most powerful, most dangerous kind of magic to heal the rift between two strife-worn lands and unite two peoples against a common enemy…shadow magic.

As soon as I finish this one, I’ll be working on reading Beautiful Creatures. Why oh why does Beryl always have to dare me to read gigantic bricks that look like lame attempts at Twilight?

Shadow Magic starts exactly where Havemercy ended: the century-long war between the Volstov and Ke-Han Empires is finally over, and Volstovic diplomats are negotiating (what they are negotiating is beyond my knowledge, maybe the terms of surrender or something).

I had first started to read Havemercy, the first tome of this series, because of the awesomely cute gay couple, Royston and Hal. I picked this book up because I had like the plot, but especially because I thought there would be more Royston and Hal cuteness. When I noticed there wasn’t anything of the sort in Shadow Magic, I was slightly disappointed, but continued reading nevertheless.

After that, I was even more disappointed when I noticed the whole fantasy part present Havemercy disappeared in Shadow Magic. Granted, Havemercy already didn’t have very much, but the little it had was awesome. At least, there were dragons, magic, and magic dragons. But in Shadow Magic (Another ill-fitted book title!), nothing. Well, nothing in the first 300 pages of the book. This disappointed me even further, but I kept reading anyways.

Then, I realized that the Ke-Han Empire was really just Japan with another name. When reading about fantasy worlds, I like original people, strange new ways and special attributes. But the Ke-Han wore attire that looked an awful lot like kimonos, had customs much like those of feudal, imperial Japan, and even their names were Japanese-sounding! Mamoru, Aiko and Kouje were three noticeable ones (though I do admit Iseul doesn’t sound at all Japanese).

Next, there are still four protagonists, and two hardly related storylines: that of Mamoru and Kouje running away from the Emperor, and that of the Volstovic diplomats negociating the terms of surrender with the Ke-Han Emperor, Iseul. This second aspect is told by Caius Greylace (by far my favourite, though very cliché in his gayness and love for clothes) and General Alcibiades.

All four main characters are despairingly common, and I’m not even talking about the other ones. Mamoru, the fragile little prince. Kouje, Mamoru’s trusty bodyguard and friend. Caius Greylace, the happy little 17-year-old diplomat with an incredible taste for clothes and gossip. And finally, Alcibiades, the gruff general who did the war and is definitely not talented diplomatically.

I’d feel like I was failing this blog and myself if I couldn’t find anything positive to say about this novel, but this one is hard. I do admit the writing was beautiful and flowery, though I wish there were a little more physical descriptions of places and people. Once more, the authors managed to give distinctively different voices to their four characters, and I have to praise them for this. But, as I said earlier, story wise, this book is rather bland.

The first 300 pages were pretty boring, to be frank. But the ending actually quite made up for it action wise, even if it did feel rushed. I would’ve loved another hundred pages like the last 80! But instead, the rest of the book was just a big mob of diplomacy.

Honestly, though this book probably isn’t the worst one out there, it is a horrible disappointment. Though there is a third book in this series, I do not know whether or not I will read it, because it is about the two characters I loathed in Havemercy (the ones that were brothers, but didn’t know because they thought the other one was dead – woops, I just said a punch line from book 1).

I tried hard to like this book, I really did. But I most certainly didn’t. If you like diplomacy in fantasy worlds that look like feudal Japan, then you may appreciate this more than I did, though.

Shadow Magic by Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett
Rating: 5,6/10

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