Thank you to Hachette for sending me this gorgeous book, I jumped up and down when I opened the package!!
When I read that this book would delight fans of Brandon Sanderson, I was immediately interested. It’s a high fantasy novel, told in third person, featuring multiple perspectives! Plus there’s Essence, which is like pure energy, that’s wielded by the Gifted. And then there’s the Augurs, supposedly wiped out, but Davian mysteriously can’t use Essence. He can tell exactly when someone is lying, though. Has it got you yet? It got me!
It has been twenty years since the end of the war. The dictatorial Augurs – once thought of almost as gods – were overthrown and wiped out during the conflict, their much-feared powers mysteriously failing them. Those who had ruled under them, men and women with a lesser ability known as the Gift, avoided the Augurs’ fate only by submitting themselves to the rebellion’s Four Tenets. A representation of these laws is now written into the flesh of any who use the Gift, forcing those so marked into absolute obedience.
The Shadow of What Was Lost hooked me on its premise: I love the “chosen one” trope and I believed Davian would invoke that character arc. He did, to an extent, so I was not disappointed! So much else occurred though and he wasn’t the only focus! Which was actually refreshing, since the other characters were also so interesting.
I fell in love with Asha’s narrative and I found her entirely more compelling than Davian’s, Caedan’s and Wirr’s plots! She suffered greatly but utilised her cleverness and resources and ultimately I kind of wish she was the protagonist! Seeing through both Davian, Caedan, and Wirr, though, made me realise how versatile their characters were: one was a Gifted, one was an Augur, and the other two were… well, I can’t tell you straight away without spoiling it. Caedan is so mysterious! And Asha is v good. Her arc is just…!!
The magic system was intriguing, I loved its intricacies and I can definitely tell why it was compared to Brandon Sanderson’s work! However, this comparison did set a super high expectation for me, which wasn’t quite met. The Shadow of What Was Lost was a debut, which I could tell from the writing, as it seemed to describe a lot fleetingly rather than taking its time. I didn’t settle into the story as much as I hoped I would, but I still got an image of what it was painting for me.
But, don’t let that be discouraging. I had super high expectations going into this, and I was entertained. I did NOT expect the reveal at the end, that’s for sure! And the snippets of the Gifted and the accompanying politics was intriguing! A little overwhelming at times, with many names to remember. But as the story progresses these names settled into my head.
I ended up finishing this book with more questions than answers bouncing around in my brain! Which I think is entirely a good thing!! This book gained HEAPS of traction in its final third for me. I was thoroughly caught up in what would happen, how events would pan out, plus what certain characters would end up doing and where they’d end up!
I feel like book two is just going to jump straight into the action now that the world is set up! I also really enjoyed it when elements of the plot from the beginning were looped back into the narrative near the end. I was reading and thinking “OOOOH”, so good! So many characters provided the opportunities for so many questions!
I feel mean giving this less than 4 stars, because I really did enjoy it! But the pacing, unfortunately, knocked my rating down a bit. As did the writing, in parts it felt a little underwhelming? I can’t explain it, maybe it was just me! Davian was a bit annoying at first, too. He was quite naive, but he’d grown a lot by the end and I am more interested in him now that he’s got more depth!
Overall, I’m super happy I finished this! It was new, unique and was definitely a solid adventure! I’d recommend this to you if you’re wanting to branch out from YA fantasy and into something a bit longer! Definitely suitable for those who don’t read fantasy often, otherwise you’ll have high expectations like I did! Still quite an enjoyable read though!
3.75 / 5 stars