This is a review of “Shadow Prowler“, “Shadow Chaser” and “Shadow Blizzard” by Alexey Pehov.
The Nameless One is gathering an army in the Desolate Lands, intent on attacking Avendoom. One last attempt is made to retrieve the magical artifact that has so far kept the Nameless One in check, and to get this artifact they employ the services of Shadow Harold the master thief. Having the armies of the Nameless One after you isn’t made easier by the appearance of the evil Master – whoever or whatever he or she might be…
A vast world with history and places and, not to mention, species! There are a whole lot of different species here in this book and none are quite what one would expect. Elves with fangs, beardless dwarves, goblins, orcs, ogres and shamans and wizards and who knows what else that has been mentioned only in passing. With mysterious cursed spots and demons the city of Avendoom itself offers more than enough adventure for probably more than one book on its own!
The characters, so far, are well-written and interesting. The elves especially differ from everyone else. The company of ten Wild Heart warriors all have their own personalities. Kli-Kli the goblin jester is crazy with occasional hints of something more, and Harold himself is a fun and amusing character to follow. His reactions and comments to everything make this a delightful romp of sarcasm, mysterious dreams and enemies, going from one adventure to another. Harold isn’t a typical hero, he isn’t even going to try something heroic, and that makes him believable.
The books read a bit as if Harold wrote it as his memoirs after everything was over and done with. It isn’t too bad, but some of the descriptions occasionally do get in the way of the storytelling, slowing the story slightly. Especially at the very start of the first book. Harold’s own opinions of things do colour our perceptions slightly, and Harold himself is also more reactive than proactive, but it only really becomes visible and annoying when Kli-Kli is around. However this might also be because the point where Harold’s skills will be fully needed hasn’t arrived yet.
I do like the fact that Harold feels attracted to Miralissa, but that even he admits that it’s impossible and that it won’t work out. And he is content with that. Even when someone else remarks about the impossibility of it, Harold agrees with it. That was wonderful to read about, and lessened the usual annoyance of romantic entanglement.
Because of the way the books are written, with little interaction with some of the characters, then sometimes when that character died or betrayed the group the impact was thoroughly lessened. In fact, once I had to stop up and wonder just who this character was before I got it. There were also a few mistakes in the writing, some grammatical and one mix-up of names, but those were minor and not disruptive to the story.
The language is easy and light and the books are a joy to read, and the best part were definitely when Harold was traveling alone through the Forbidden Territory and through Hrad Spein. Out of all the books, the second book did lag a bit and a lot that happened in the book didn’t really seem to have any bearing on the story itself. The second book could have been a lot shorter or simply incorporated into book one and three instead.
All in all this is an excellent trilogy and I really do recommend this!