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Shadowfall: The First Chronicle Of The Godslayer by James Clemens
Review by Drew Bittner
Roc Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 0451459946
Date: 01 July, 2005 List Price $24.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Tylar de Noche used to be somebody. Once a Shadowknight, sworn to the service of a god and endowed with magical powers, he is now a broken ex-criminal living on the streets of a seaside town. One night, fate intervenes... and he witnesses the murder of a goddess.

Meeryn, Goddess of the Summering Isles, blesses Tylar with her essential magic as she dies in his arms. Seemingly restored to his full strength and health, Tylar flees the Shadowknights who believe he killed the goddess-- but he cannot flee the accusation of being a Godslayer.

Thus begins Shadowfall by James Clemens, the first book of The Godslayer Chronicle. The story follows Tylar's flight/quest across the lands of Myrillia, even as it picks up the tale of Dart (and the mysterious ectoplasmic "pup" that only she can see).

Tylar's only clue to what happened is the word "Rivenscryr," which proves to be the name of a god's legendary sword. He decides to seek more knowledge in the libraries of Tashijan, home of the Shadowknights, even as he is pursued by his old enemy Darjon ser Hightower. Unfortunately, he knows that something even more dangerous awaits him in Tashijan: Kathryn, the woman he loved, whose words condemned him to slavery and disgrace. At the same time, he gains the help of Delia (a young woman with secrets of her own) and Rogger (a beggar with extensive connections and uncanny knowledge).

Meanwhile, Dart survives a harrowing, shattering encounter that leaves her in command of unexpected powers... even as it disqualifies her for service with the gods. She is chosen nonetheless to serve Chrism, first among the gods of Myrillia, but makes horrifying discoveries even as she tries to avoid the dangerous attention of Yaellin de Mar.

As the characters are drawn toward a fateful confrontation in Chrismferry, dire portents gather on the horizons. Many surprises await the heroes... and the ground is laid for epic battles yet to come.

Clemens creates a dazzling new entry in the world of epic fantasy. The plot is Byzantine in its complexity, the characters are rich and fully realized, and the system of magic (depending upon the eight bodily "humours" of the gods, each with its own specific function) is both fascinating and innovative. There are traces of many influences here--the Shadowknights in particular seem a bit like Jedi Knights, for instance, if more logically constructed--but Clemens makes each piece of this vast puzzle fit seamlessly.

Something like a cross between Donaldson's Chronicles of Thomas Covenant and Brooks's Shannara series, Shadowfall is likely to become a favorite of fantasy lovers worldwide.

Highly recommended.

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