An incredible, exciting and wonderfully written high fantasy, my favourite this year so far

April 6, 2019

The Shadow of What Was Lost (The Licanius Trilogy #1) by James Islington

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars




Very occasionally a book comes along that makes you drop everything and just immerse yourself in it wholeheartedly in its story, taking you into a cocoon of the world in which it is set. It's been a little while since I had a book that captured me so completely that I literally lost a whole day to it, never moving from my reading chair until I'd absorbed every last bit of it. The Shadow Of What Was Lost is the only book that in 2019 has so far grabbed my attention so singly. 

This is an amazing debut novel by James Islington, an epic fantasy that forms the first in the Licanius Trilogy. Initially it doesn't give you much information, you put yourself wholly in the hands of the author as he spins the tale of Davian and his best friend Wirr who are told that because of Davian's special powers as an Augur he should flee his school and make a perilous journey to find those who can help him understand his powers. As he and Wirr head out on their strange quest their friend Asha wakes up at the school to find everyone has been murdered and that her own magical powers are to be removed from her by the very person who sent Davian and Wirr on their quest. 

This is a hugely complex novel, there's a whole magic system of Gifted people who can use magic called Essence but are restricted in how they can use it by tenants that mean they are unable to use it to harm any non-gifted people even in self-defence. Alongside this we learn about Agur's who in the past were able to see visions of the future but their visions stopped being reliable and they were all slaughtered and they are now seen as the enemy. We also learn of a boundary behind which the evil of the world is being held but in which cracks are now being found forewarning that the great evil trapped their thousands of years before could be about to escape. 

Much of this information is relayed through multiple viewpoints including Wirr, Davian, Asha and a stranger Davian and Wirr meet whose memories have been lost called Caeden. There's also a little bit of time jumping going on in this book which means we have information that is coming back to us from the past and potentially the future meaning we are drip fed lots and lots of information about what could be about to happen of has happened which make us question everyone and everything around our characters. 

This means it's a greatly complex fantasy novel but there are so many twists and turns and information about the world that mean you are literally hanging on the edge of every single word. There is great political maneuvering going on as the city from which Wirr and Davian are from fight to defeat a mysterious army known as the Blind, where the King seems unwilling to use the gifts available to him through magic to help him defeat the oncoming threat. 

I fell in love with this story wholeheartedly, the characters are ones you really fall in love with, you are behind them 100% and even although there are some questions around their potential future actions you want them to be good guys. There is some real cliff-hangers at the end that ensure you are fully invested in Book 2 of the series and it is one I will absolutely be picking up in the very near future, maybe not too soon though as Book 3 hasn't been released yet and is due to be in December of this year so I don't want to read Book 2 too quickly and then spend the rest of this year just anticipating the release of the end of the series. 

I cannot recommend this book highly enough to those who love high fantasy and are fans of the Nevernight series of Brandon Sandersons' Cosmere. I have started Mistborn this year and whilst I've loved it I have to say that The Shadow of What Was Lost has eclipsed it so far as my favourite book of 2019 so far. 

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