Thursday, September 16, 2010
Sometimes the best good guy... is a villian.
The Conqueror's Shadow is a fun bit of independent fantasy based around a specific conceit: The villain isn't always JUST a villain. Corvis Rebane is Ari Marmell's focal character and we are introduced to him at the height of his power before skipping ahead 17 years. Ari uses the "skipping time" conceit to show us the characters at differing points in their history and to explore further depth of character. As a frequent reader of "high fantasy" style stories it often seems easier to create remarkable villains than it is heroes, and it seems this author took that style of writing to heart, by crafting his "world-conquering despot" into an anti-hero. While the 2 concepts of conqueror and hero often feel impossible to reconcile, Mr. Marmell builds his characters history well through his development and flashbacks finally showing how a man so battered by the system he lives in comes to decide that breaking the system to put it all together again is the result. While the story isn't terribly original, it is a fun and quick read.. independent of the frequencies of trilogies and series that are so popular these days. The novel is excellently written and developed, much like his previous "fantasy" style outing with Agents of Artifice for Wizards of the Coast's Magic the Gathering line. Well worth checking out at your local library or picking up as a quick paperback if you're looking for a read that won't leave you high and dry waiting for the next installment.