Wednesday, 11 May 2016

A Whisper in the Shadows

A Whisper in the Shadows

by Tom Fallwell

4 out of 5

"a fun, fast-moving adventure story in the epic style" - Lynne Murray
"a treat for any fantasy gamers, or lovers of fantasy literature" - N Laeser

Baric is one of the famous Rangers of Laerean, a group dedicated to protecting the people of the Lands of Hir. Assigned to a task with a beautiful and exotic Vaar'da assassin called Whisper, Baric promises to help her solve the mystery of her recurring nightmares that are eating away at her soul and filling her heart with fear and despair. The quest becomes more complicated when those nightmares lead them to an artifact of unbelievable power that threatens the entire world they live in.

The quest soon becomes a dangerous mission for the renowned Rangers as a small group undertake a mission into an area of Hir that men do not travel, where monsters roam and thrive. They must delve deep into the bowels of an active volcano, Mount Scorch, to stop the impending disaster that looms before them. Into the very heart of the territory ruled by the demonic Manenase.

The fate of their world depends upon the courage and skills of the group of Rangers and their Vaar'da companion. Can they survive the quest and stop the impending devastation? They must solve the mystery of ... A Whisper In The Shadows.

The famed and noble Rangers of Laerean are drawn into a mission that could affect the whole world. Baric couldn't have guessed how big the adventure would be when little Whisper walks into his life.

I have been meaning to read this book for ages, and it turned out to be a very nice little fantasy adventure.

Baric is a Ranger, a human and skilled enough to join this elite team. He is a born leader and one of the best, so he is the obvious choice when a Vaar'da (think short, but still graceful, elf) emissary comes seeking their help.
Baric accompanies the Vaar'da, who goes by the nickname Whisper, as they journey to a distant land to fulfil their mission. 
I really liked the world that Fallwell has created, and especially the use of Shadow Magic, which was always well-described and believable. I loved that little Whisper could just step into the shadows and vanish, and that she was perfectly capable of protecting herself.

The different races echoes the standard that is present in a lot of Fantasy worlds, with your humans, elves and dwarves; but this doesn't retract from the story. It is with the creatures and villains that Fallwell stamps his real imagination. For most of the book, the Manenase hover somewhere between nightmares and demons in the living flesh. There are also an array of creatures and monsters that appear along the way, beautifully-described and unique.

There is inevitably a likeness to Lord of The Rings, in the second half, in that a chosen group must go on a mission in the heart of Manenase land to destroy a small but powerful item; which Whisper carries and it gives her a certain connection with the Big Bad. There is also the growing relationship between Baric, the human Ranger; and Whisper, the Vaar'da (elf).
The likenesses aren't enough to ruin the story and, as much as I love Tolkein, this was much easier reading!

The downsides...
This was a nice read, as I stated before. It has a very nice feel to it, and builds a nicety to it. I'm using the word nice to much, aren't I?
Well, that's what stayed with me most. Baric is nice; Whisper is nice. They go on an adventure and come across many dangers, but I never felt that it was dangerous. Don't get me wrong, the action scenes were awesome in themselves, but the atmosphere of the story never moved out of mildly comfortable.
The rest of the characters were all nice (OK, I'll stop it now), they were a good bunch and I liked them, but there was nothing particularly distinct about them. I couldn't pick a favourite.
The plot for the most part was very good, but I did have a few issues where my brain nagged over "why"?
Why did Whisper travel all the way to the Rangers to seek their help in a kidnapping, then travel all the way home when this journey is described as a month each way?
When her true motive was revealed, why did Whisper seek the Rangers at all, when all Vaar'da discriminate against humans and see them as crude and lesser beings? (Speaking of which, I never felt that Whisper did treat Baric and the Rangers as anything other than equals, even though it was constantly remarked about in the narrative.)
Why weren't they more immediately concerned and suspicious when they suddenly appeared in a different land?
Why did they jump to the conclusion that the jewel was an evil object that must be destroyed? Yes, it's powerful, but it never gave off an evil vibe, and they didn't know it's source before deciding to destroy it.

Anyways, overall it was an entertaining adventure and I will definitely be continuing with the series.

Goodreads link

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