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Fantasy Review – The Shadow of What Was Lost

Ever feel like no matter how hard you try, you just aren’t Gifted? Well, so did the protagonist Davian as he kept his true identity a closely guarded secret, only telling his best friends in his school for Gifted students. Unbeknownst to them, they are each going to go on a journey to discover the dangers, the politics and the intrigue around being either Gifted, a Shadow or an Augur. If you’re looking for an epic high fantasy tale to keep you highly invested, you really should check this one out. If that sounds like fun to you, then read on for today’s spoiler-free review:


Author James Islington
Release Date August 2014
Amazon Link
Official Link
Genre Fantasy
£8.99 paperback, £4.99 Kindle


Image Credit: Amazon

The Shadow of What Was Lost was the debut novel by James Islington, also part of a trilogy (The Licanius Trilogy) featuring the three aforementioned young protagonists. The three of them attend a school for those with special powers, making them the ‘Gifted’. The school is a way to train Gifted, who are looked down on by those without the ability to use ‘Essence’. Using Essence against a non-Gifted person can result in serious repercussions, such as being turned into a Shadow, a group of people who were banished from being Gifted.

One of the best aspects about the book is how, whilst there are some action moments with some relatively sharp sequences, the book doesn’t get all nitty-gritty at you. If the idea of reading about decapitations in excrutiating detail doesn’t interest you, then this book will do you well. Indeed, if I had to use a word to describe the action, it’s clean. If you’re wanting to read this expecting a Game of Thrones, that’s not what you’ll get – But honestly, that was part of the appeal for me. Whilst there are plenty of fights, the details of the fights aren’t too technical, or graphic in detail.

If you’re a fan of younger characters in a coming-of-age style story, then this one will work for you. Davian, Wirr and Asha are all purported to be around the same age of sixteen. Our main characters each have a flaw, which they have to work around for themselves. There are real struggles with these characters, but the support the other characters show is fantastic. Furthermore, the rest of the cast who pop along either take advantage of any weaknesses they can find, or also help the characters grow further.

When action just doesn’t really resolve a problem, the characters are willing to chat and to interact with people around them. A lot of the characters show off their weird quirks and traits through this – And that also includes the differences of being an Augur, a Gifted or a Shadow. What I really enjoyed is how easily you learn about the way these people live, based on what they are. Augurs are effectively a secret; Gifted is akin to being feared and Shadows are usually treated badly, often unnecessarily. To further that, it always felt like characters who are “their own” always give off a sense of community.


I’ve enjoyed every minute of this novel, which has been a thrill to read. With twists and turns to keep you flicking to the next chapter, the story is well paced and with a lot of character development very quickly. You learn a lot about the world it’s set in and in all honesty, it’s an exciting world. There are some good and bad moments for each character, spanning a range of thoughts and emotions. That’s partly why I’ve enjoyed it so much – It’s fun, it’s adventurous and it’s a great read. If you’re a fan of fantasy, go and check this out. You’ll not be disappointed.

I certainly will be picking up the sequel, An Echo of Things to Come, once this one’s over. It’s been a fun ride and I want to see it through to completion. If you’ve already read The Shadow of What Was Lost, why not share your thoughts and opinions with us? Do you echo my sentiments, or did I miss the ball? As ever, we’d love to hear what you have to say in the comments below, or over on Facebook and Twitter.

One response

  1. Pingback: Top 10 Politically Charged Stories | GeekOut South-West

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