McMillin, Dean C.: Shadowslave (The Shadewright Cycle II) (2012)

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Dean C. McMillin has written the sequel to Shadewright: Shadowslave. At the beginning of Shadowslave we get a synopsis of the storyline in Shadewright.

Huge brag before we get down to business. It has been a while since I read Shadowslave and I needed to take a quick look before getting back the feeling I had with this world. Don’t you know, I had to sit down and read the whole thing over again. A wild guess might tell you that I really enjoyed McMillin’s writing.

The Shadewright Cycle (at least the first two installments) has some interesting characters and important themes along with tons and tons of action, humour and romance (yeah, I guess I could call it that). I think Shadowslave is fairly dark, but not too dark for young adults. Nor is there very explicit violence or explicit sex in it. There is some gore though in connection with homununculi and a strange baby.

Back to my favorite part – the characters. Arick the Arcwright, Lord of Lightning T’Gantas is my favorite character. He seems kind of “simple” to the people around him. Shadowslave shows us that Arick definitely is not. He does, however, lean toward the clumsy and spectacular and explosive. That man is a wandering accident waiting to happen. Arick has to be the luckiest unlucky guy I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. McMillin made me fall in love. Praise, praise, praise for Arick’s character.

Racism. Hmmm. Plenty of racism in Shadowslave (and Shadewright). The Phantist, Serjeant Despanya Euran and Duskron are all three greyskins. That means that they have grey skin and are somehow tied to the Shadows, with the potential of being shadewrights. The degree of talent varies and Despanya has chosen to deny that side of her completely. Like our own world skin colour matters a great deal in the Shadowworld. Despanya has double-trouble in that she is a woman as well. Because gender does matter in Arlandia and Rall.

Arlandia and Rall

The Phantist is our main character. He worked hard in Shadewright to develop his abilities as a shadewright and became quite proficient and popular because of it. He also got into trouble with a voice he hears emanating from the earth. That threat in his life follows him into Shadowslave along with his meeting another dangerous entity in Shadows. I kind of think of the Phantist as the awkward hero. Maybe it is his character more than any of the others that leads me to think of the Shadewright Cycle as young adult. His tale is a coming of age story in the fantasy way.

Emm-Ma, the Quicklime Girl, is a very strange babysitter with an even stranger child to take care of. The two of them are fascinating characters. I can’t say more. I want to, but I can’t. I liked her though and strangely enough I liked the baby.

Healer Malleck and Colonel Brendan are into genetic tampering. Healer Malleck more than the Colonel. Both are willing to employ pretty bizarre and dangerous tools to get ahead of “the other side”. Sound familiar to any government at all? Is there any government that does not do this??? Two men who are extremely dedicated to their beliefs.

Finally we have Lesander. Or maybe Lesander’s property would be more correct. Something really strange is going on on Arliss Island. The Phantast is essential in figuring out the mystery and Duskron desperately wishes it was not so.


Review: Brian P. McKinley


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