#SPFBO Review : A Tale of Stars and Shadow (A Tale of Stars and Shadow #1) by Lisa Cassidy

ATaleofA Tale of Stars and Shadows is my fifth finalist review for the SPFBO.  I’m obviously behind with my reviews for the finalists so April will be the month of catching up for me!

I have to say I really had a good time with A Tale of Stars and Shadow.  As far as fantasy stories go this isn’t exactly breaking the mould or coming up with anything particularly unique but it’s a tale well told and it has characters that you can really get on board with even if it takes a little time to do so.  I enjoyed the world building and having finished the first in series I can say without doubt that I would like to read more.

This is a tale with two POVs.  The central character is Talyn, a Princess and a warrior who has recently suffered the loss of her partner and her confidence.  Talyn has been putting off being given a new placement.  Following the death of her partner she took the unprecedented move of standing down as a Callanan warrior and instead taking up the role of Kingshield and this move sees her being placed as, well, bodyguard to a ‘winged’ prince in the country of Mithranar and given the unenviable task of recruiting and training a squad of guards for protection purposes.  Talyn’s arrival in Mithranar is something of an upset though.  The city is divided into two.  The arrogant winged folk who live in the upper echelons, they seem to have very little regard for humans and see them as little more than grist for the mill, and the people who live in the lower city, mostly underfed and living in poverty.  This is a society that feels a little ‘behind times’ in certain respects.  There are no women recruited to the Falcons (the winged army) and Talyn’s appearance as a female bodyguard definitely throws a spanner into the works.  She is given very little assistance and forced to choose recruits from the prison cells – basically, she’s being set up to fail.

The second POV is the Shadowhawk.  A mysterious criminal who stalks the city, robbing food to give to the poor.  A Robin Hood character if you will.  I loved his opening scene which really was a great set up and pulled me into the story very easily.  I enjoyed the chapter switches, the Shadowhawk provides a way for readers to look at the story from a different angle which is something I always enjoy.

What I really liked about this was the world building.  Whilst I wouldn’t say that everything is yet fully fleshed out this makes a really good start and has definitely whetted my appetite for more.  I’d like to know more about the forests beyond the walls of Mithranar and the creatures that live there – there’s a definite tale in the making if you ask me.  I’d also like to know more about the winged people and the magic they use, and how this relates to the humans who also have magic.  There’s a lot hinted at in this first instalment and it definitely intrigues me.

In terms of the characters, we have a bunch of misfits being trained into a purpose.  There’s the constant threat hanging over them of ‘make this work or else’ and the carrot and stick scenario of being pardoned if successful.  I can’t say I really became attached as such to any of the characters in particular but as a group I enjoyed their exploits and felt myself cheering them on.  Nothing like a tale of underdogs rising up against the odds after all.

Talyn and the Shadowhawk.  Well, Talyn is a bit closed off at first and it does take a little while to form an attachment to her but I ended up quite firmly in her corner.  I found myself constantly frustrated by the obstacles she met and the discrimination and in fact found myself wishing her to really tell it the way it was.  The Shadowhawk is, necessarily so, a mysterious character.  I didn’t quite understand his motives at first although having now thought about it, I can see a little more about why he felt compelled to act the way he did – I just can’t share it here!,

In terms of criticisms.  I think this could probably have been slimmed down a little.  Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t struggle to read this, I was always keen to pick it back up, but, given the length there isn’t a great deal plot wise – although, in fairness, the author is taking the time to establish things and give a feeling of camaraderie for Talyn and her group of trainees.  there are aspects to the plot that are really good – like the flooding and the way everyone banded together to get through it, but then there’s the big emphasis on a football match, which, okay, I can see what that was about to some extent but then in another way I could have equally done without it.  I also have to admit that I didn’t really find the mystery of the Shadowhawk to really be a mystery at all – in fact I guessed who he was very early in the book – I’m not really sure that it matters though and in some respects I think it might have worked better if this hadn’t been kept a mystery and we could have had a little more insight from his pov.

Overall, I had a good time with A Tale of Stars and Shadow and find myself very keen to read more about this world and these characters.

I would like to thank the author for the review copy.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 4 of 5* or 8 of 10.




5 Responses to “#SPFBO Review : A Tale of Stars and Shadow (A Tale of Stars and Shadow #1) by Lisa Cassidy”

  1. Tammy

    I love dual POVs so I could definitely see myself enjoying this.

  2. sjhigbee

    Great review, Lynn:). I also enjoy dual povs, too. It sounds as if this an intriguing premise – thank you for sharing:)

  3. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    Definitely sounds like a strong contender!

  4. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    The “band of misfits” theme is one that I find very appealing – and the cover adds some welcome eye-candy to the mix! 😉

  5. waytoofantasy

    I am also on board with the ‘bunch of misfits’ thing, that’s one of the tropes that I love. Looks like you enjoyed this one quite a bit. Looking forward to all the final reviews for the contest!

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