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The Shadow of Elysium by Django Wexler, or: OMG EPIC FANTASY YES PLEASE

The Shadow of Elysium by Django Wexler
Pub. Date: May 19, 2015
Source: e-ARC via netgalley (Thank you, Penguin!!)
Summary: The wagons travel north across the mountains, carrying cargo of great value: Hamveltai glass and porcelain; Deslandai jewelry in heavy iron strongboxes; fine cloth from the cities of the Old Coast. And Abraham.

Bound and tied, guarded day and night, Abraham has been stolen from his village, from the arms of the man he loved. He is being sent to the fortress-city of Elysium to serve a dark and ancient order, the Priests of the Black. They have discovered the secret he kept all his life: that inside him dwells a demon which allows him to heal…and to kill.

But Abraham is not alone. A young woman named Alex, similarly possessed, rides with him. And as a bond grows between them, they begin to wonder if they can turn the demons that have damned them into their salvation.
Genre: Epic Fantasy, Side/Companion Story
Recommended For: Readers new to The Shadow Campaigns and are curious for a taste, readers who are already fans of the series and need something to hold them over until the third book’s release

I was nine years old when I first understood that I carried a demon.

And with that sentence, I was sold.

I have a confession to make: as much as I love epic and high fantasy, I tend to shy away from series that feature near-unpronounceable names and settings with more apostrophes than should be legal. I also am wary of side stories – even for series I already enjoy! They either add nothing to the story or are so far interwoven into the story that it’s practically required you know every detail of a series before even attempting a companion novel. The worst is when major plot points and details are doled out. So with all of this in mind, it was with a hesitant nod that I accepted an invitation from the publicist.

I’ve said it before and I know I’ll say it again: publicists know my tastes better than I do. You would think that, after four years of blogging I would have learned that by now! But, no, I’m still stubborn and hard-headed and all that hesitation I had initially felt completely flew out the window.

For a while I had been eyeing up this series. In elementary and high school I devoured fantasy (the more epic, the better.) In college I fell off the wagon somehow and it wasn’t until last year that I really got back into the genre (the awesome space opera Lockstep is to thank for that!) Suddenly I found myself back in the game and eager to discover everything I had been missing. More than once Django Wexler (is that a fantastic name or what?) appeared on my radar and there was that stubbornness again that kept avoiding him.

When I received an e-mail about this side story I was intrigued. Even more so when I was told that The Shadow of Elysium was being pushed as an introduction to the series – no prior reading required! At only 69 pages (I discovered after reading it’s more like 50 with the rest being an except from the upcoming novel) it was silly not to finally soothe my curiosity…and I’m so glad I did.

The Shadow of Elysium had more than enough story and substance to give me a good feel for Wexler’s writing, the characters, and just what this world is all about. There was a twist I hadn’t expected (and actually gasped out loud!) I had no problem whatsoever with walking in blind and my only gripe is that, judging from the blurbs of the novels, I don’t believe these characters reappear! WHY, WEXLER, WHY. I need to know more about Abraham! What’s the deal with Alex and the counting?? Will I be seeing more of Peter?!

Despite the totally cliffhanger-y ending, I enjoyed The Shadow of Elysium immensely. In such a tiny space, Wexler expertly crafted his story, packed a shocking amount of both action and tender moments, and best of all, piqued my interest. Don’t be at all surprised to see the rest of this series popping up here – and soon!

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