Gunzel, Jeff: Land of Shadows (The Legend of the Gatekeeper) (2012)

Land of Shadows
Cover art by Ronnell D. Porter

First of all I would like to compliment Jeff Gunzel on his choice of cover artist. The cover of Land of Shadows is amazingly beautiful. Love the work of Ronnell D. Porter.

I see that some of the earlier reviews have asked for editing of Lands of Shadow. I have an updated version from 2013 and have a feeling that there must have been quite a bit of editing done if the previous critique was true. I like that in an author – the ability to listen to what people have to say and then decide if what is said is worth listening to. So that is one plus in Jeff Gunzel’s favor.

I loved the opening scene. The warrior Morcel’s choice to leave off the life he had been leading lately brings him in a sense back to the land of the living. All because that one last drop had fallen. Life is like that (although maybe not quite as brutal as the village scenes). Sometimes that one drop extra falls and you cannot stand your own choices any longer. Change comes – sometimes for the better, sometimes not. Morcel’s having had his fill plays an important role in the plot of The Land of Shadows.

Right away I am going to warn you of a particularly gruesome scene – the one that changes Morcel’s life. This is NOT a book for Young Adults and there are definitely trigger factors for those who have been victims of sexual abuse. Consider yourselves warned.

In this scene we meet a girl who also plays an important role in the development of the plot. If you are awake you will spot her reappearance. She is quite a strong character.

There is action from the beginning of Land of Shadows. Talk about intense scenes that just grip me and will not let me go. Not until Chapter 3 do we get a description of beautiful Tarmerria. But that beauty does have a back side. There are plenty of unwanted elements, crime and scary outlanders.

What we get in the Land of Shadows is a bunch of people who have had to make terrible choices in order to stave off a potentially terrible future. But bearing the consequences of their choices takes a toll on them and the ones they have made those choices for. Life is all too often like that. A person can only do what they think is right and hope that they do not mess up too badly.

Land of Shadows is a dark novel, dark and beautiful. It is well worth the read and I would say that Jeff Gunzel has the potential of being an amazing writer. He already hits the flow over and over again and plays with my feelings like a virtuoso.


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