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Title: Of Myth and Shadow
Author: Matthew S. Cox
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Page Count: 1,482
Aegaan is a vast and righteous kingdom, yet darkness gathers in the distant corners of the realm. Elven raids on small towns have inflamed racial tensions with humans, pushing distrust to hatred and the brink of war.
Anrael wanders the woods alone until a chance meeting tempts him to set aside his contempt for those who scorn his half-elven blood.
When Kylie, a naive elf terrified of humans, is thrust among them against her will, she begins to question her mother’s tales of dread.
Having lost everything dear to him, the bandit king Jhelan lives only to seek challenge in battle… until he finds himself willing to die protecting that which he hates the most.
The diabolical mystique of the dark elves cloaks L’an Thal’Sara in protection, but the cruelest lie she tells is to herself.
Thaelwyn, a virtuous knight, sets out to discover the source of the Elves’ aggression, but faces a much greater test within his mind.
Beneath the chaos, minions of the Destroyer search for their promised leader, a child possessing power beyond their years. If the innocent falls to darkness, a kingdom rife with hatred will surely crumble.
World Building to the Extreme
In my opinion, creating a world so well-written that even just scratching the surface of it can help you explore every inch of it is one of the tests of a great author.
It would be easy for a lot of authors to create a contained world and have the characters’ interactions as the main story driven device.
There’s nothing wrong with that, and there’s nothing wrong with authors who pursue that route. They are still brilliant and I love their works, but my favorite thing about books is the world I can immerse myself in.
Cox creates a beautiful world full of magical creatures. I wouldn’t say it is as well defined as Game of Thrones or similar works, but it doesn’t need to be. In Of Myth and Shadow we only scrape the surface of the realm. We know there are peoples, creatures, and places we have yet to explore, but their effects change the course of the story even when they aren’t present.
Cox has a great ability to write fantastical worlds within the first few pages of his stories, and his characters feel natural. They’re not forced or overly dramatic for the sake of the story.
A Story of Current Events
Telling a fantasy story that touches on current political and social events isn’t easy. The difference in worlds can make it difficult to properly portray the issues we see in our world.
Though it isn’t perfect, I think Cox does a good job about touching on racial issues we are seeing in our world today.
Again it’s not perfect, and you have to make some assumptions to translate it into more “modern” terms, but the fantasy world’s version can teach you some lessons if you are willing to educate yourself.
A Good End
It’s not often that I enjoy the ending of a book. I am too often disappointed or unfulfilled, that I think I have become calloused to the idea of a good ending.
Though it’s not perfect, I think Cox’s ending was just about where I wanted it to be. It wasn’t perfect, but it felt natural. None of the character storylines felt forced, out of place, or unrealistic.
Each ending felt like it was something that would have happened to them, and that is too often missed.
I am glad Cox took the time to know where his character’s stories were going, and giving them the endings that they deserved.
I’ve only recently discovered Cox, from a previous review of his book; The Girl Who Found the Sun. I’ve come to like his style of writing and his quick paced storytelling.
Of Myth and Shadow is a great Epic Fantasy novel with a lot of fun characters.
Cox does a great job of writing smart, funny characters, and I really like the young children he writes because they are often too smart for their own good, but at the same time very believable.