#SPFBO Review : Rising Shadows (The Pillar of Creation, #1) by Phillip Blackwater 

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Rising Shadows by Phillip Blackwater is the third book that I picked up from my Third Batch of books.  I’ve actually completed all four books now so will be posting my final review and update post very soon.  I then have three books remaining to be read which I shall elaborate on very soon.  My reviews so far are linked below and you can find feedback from my first and second batch of books here and here and further information on SPFBO here.

Rising Shadows

Rising Shadows is a return to old school fantasy in many respects.  Set on the continent of Exitium the story centres on the ongoing war between North and South and the eventual pacts that will need to be forged between humans and elves in order to hold back the forces of Ethula.  The world of Anteris has many different inhabitants (at least those we viewed from this first instalment, humans, elves and dwarves to mention a few.  There are also some fantastical creatures such as griffins and wendigoes.  The magic of this world is provided through the Shards of Creation – most of which seem to reside within the world of the elves who, to all intents and purposes, misuse them greatly relying on their magical qualities simply to live comfortably within a beautifully carved city.

As the story begins we make the acquaintance of Wariel Ritch, general of the human army.  Summoned by the Queen, Dana Crystaloak, Wariel is sent on a mission to train the Elves in swordsmanship following an agreement reached by the Queen and the King of the Elves.  It is hoped this sharing of knowledge will help to create a strong alliance between the two.  At the same time, Medregal Tergrast, once the proud king of Ethula but dead these past thousand or so years, seeks to return to the land of the living.  He needs five keys to unlock the realm of the dead and flood the world with his army of souls.  Finally, during Wariel’s absence, the ruling Council seek to undermine the Queen’s rule, plotting to replace her with a more pliable alternative.  Eventually, the quest to find the keys overrides all other instructions as Wariel and Medregal race to find the pieces.

In terms of the characters.  Wariel is the main focus.  He is joined on his journey by a number of others including two brothers who seem to share some genetic makeup with the tall warriors of the Northdran race and a woman fighter who joins the group for personal reasons, her identity remains hidden for a good portion of the story and so I shalln’t elaborate further at this point.

The setting will be familiar to fantasy readings.  It has a typical mediaeval feel to it in terms of weapons, mode of travel etc.  The author succeeds in showing readers quite a good portion of this particular continent as we follow the quest for the keys.  We obviously travel to the main Elven city, we visit the dwarves in their mountain and risk the cold heights where the Northdran live.

For the most part I found this an easy read.  It put me in mind of a strange mash up of Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones, but, I don’t think it shares the complexity of those novels.  Not necessarily a bad thing as this could work as a gateway novel for some.

Personally, I had a couple of issues.  Primarily relating to language.  Firstly the dialogue which felt too modern.  Without going into particular examples the word ‘sure’ is used a lot.  And, I know it probably sounds a bit trivial but it actually pulled me out of my reading wormhole on a number of occasions.  There were other modern terms used but ‘sure’ is the one that immediately springs to mind.  The second element relates to some of the ‘naming’ elements, such as ‘the Human Army’ – I couldn’t help thinking that giving the army a name might have worked better somehow – but that’s obviously a very small personal preference. Perhaps the author is going for a very easy to access novel that won’t put off ‘new to fantasy’ readers.and I confess, I wasn’t expecting lots of olde worlde language – but this really struck a chord with me and unfortunately it wasn’t one that I really enjoyed.  Now, on top of this, I have mentioned that this has an old school feel and that leads to my other issue.  This felt too familiar.  Sometimes that familiarity is a source of comfort and so it could be a ‘mood’ experience as much as anything else, but, I didn’t really feel like this tested some of the overused tropes or brought anything new to the fantasy scene.

Little quibbles aside, I had no problem reading through this one and I think it could appeal to new readers, plus, I don’t think there was any (that I can recall) profanity or other issues such as an overabundance of violence (although there were clearly a number of fight scenes) or sexual content (which I think occurred off page) making this quite a clean read (although, I could be wrong – such things don’t always jump out at me so check with the author first!)

My thanks to the author for providing a copy for review.

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  2. Graves Robbed, Heirlooms Returned by Ashley Capes
  3. Stranded by Rosalind Tate
  4. One of Us by ML Roberts
  5. Berserker by Dimitrios Gkirgkiris
  6. Stone Magus by Stephanie C Marks
  7. Book of Secrets by Claudia Blood
  8. Dragonbirth by Raina Nightingale
  9. Carrion by Alyson Tait
  10. Iarraindorn by Phil Dickens