|Submitted by Anonymous |
(Sep 02, 2011)
When I first saw this book, I was instantly drawn to it by the cover. It is good, dark fantasy stuff, with warriors on horseback in the foreground and a looming castle in the background, nothing too bright, everything quite shadowed. It is a real challenge these days to find a fantasy that isn't covered in old-style fantasy cover art that makes it look exactly like every other book on the shelf. This was a refreshingly good start.
After I’d picked up the book, I discovered it had been translated from Russian by Andrew Bromfield, the same person who translated the 'Night watch' series by Sergei Lukyanenko. I was quite intrigued by this stage. And then I started reading, and it took roughly two pages for me to be right into the story. The first page tells you exactly what this book is going to be; shadows and darkness in a troubled city. It is written in the first person and your character can alternate from being dark and troubled to light-hearted and witty.
You see this book from the point of view of a master thief known as Shadow Harold, who at the start of the book is trying to rob from a powerful duke in the city of Avendoom. He gets away with it, but becomes embroiled in something far bigger when he spies the duke in question talking to winged creature. I don't spoil too much by telling you that the creature kills the duke, creating intrigue in the city. After this, Harold gets summoned by the baron and is brought to the king, who gives him the impossible task of returning an ancient artefact to Avendoom from Hrad Spein- the nightmare tombs of the ogres. This artefact is the only thing left that can stop the return of the nameless one from the desolate lands.
This sounds like fairly staple fantasy stuff, but it is really well-plotted and -written and a couple of side plots keep the story interesting and fast-paced. My one criticism would be that it is quite short for a fantasy, but there are more books to come (this one ends basically in the middle of Harold's journey) and Pehov keeps you engaged and wanting more the whole way. A great read.