Twilight of the Gods by Scott Oden
 

Twilight of the Gods

Review

 
They Came from Beneath the Sea! – Role-playing Game Review
 

They Came from Beneath the Sea!

Role-playing Game Review

 
The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter
 

The Rage of Dragons

Review

 

Shields in Shadow by Andy Peloquin – SPFBO #6 Semi-Finals Review

Shields in Shadow by Andy Peloquin – SPFBO #6 Semi-Finals Review
3.75
Book Name: Shields in Shadow
Author: Andy Peloquin
Publisher(s): Self-Published
Formatt: Paperback / Ebook
Genre(s): Military Fantasy
Release Date: September 16, 2019

Today we present the second of four semi-finalists in the sixth annual Self-Publishing Fantasy Blog-Off. The order of reviews posted this week does not indicate any rank or likelihood of being named the finalist, which will be announced on Friday, October 30th. In a weird, one might even say, fantastical, coincidence, three of the four semi-finalists had the word shadow in their title; the first of these is Shields in Shadow.

Shields in Shadow (cover)Burdened with legend. Hardened by battle scars. Hellbent on bloody revenge.

As the son of a famous general, Aravon is proud to captain his own company against his people’s enemy. But the experienced veteran’s march toward glory dissolves into pain as ruthless barbarians massacre every last one of his soldiers. Burning for vengeance, he leaps at the chance to spearhead a specially trained company and pay back his tragic defeat with blood.

Desperate to not repeat his tragic past, Aravon trains his new warriors relentlessly. But the captain fears all the tactical drills in the world may not matter when they’re forced to defend a helpless village against overwhelming odds. As his quick raids sow chaos amongst the enemy, the bloodthirsty savages threaten to make Aravon’s nightmarish history repeat itself…Can the captain take command of his fighting spirit before the kingdom falls to barbarous invaders?

A (mostly) low military fantasy full of bloody battles and grim consequences, Shields in Shadow follows an infantry company through their training and execution of a covert mission into enemy territory. We have a lot of familiar characters on hand, including the commander haunted by a devastating defeat, an alchemist in the role of the overly enthusiastic munitions expert, the tough-as-nails woman sharpshooter (with a bow), and the annoyingly crude and mouthy scout, not to mention a cute animal companion in the form of a flying fox—not the bat species, but a fox with wings.

With a conflict reminiscent of Ancient Roman efforts to conquer and hold territory in the British Isles and Northern Europe, this book seeks an answer to the question: can legionnaires change their tactics and successfully fight a guerilla war?

Our Thoughts

Our judges thoroughly enjoyed the rollercoaster perils and soldierly hijinks as the heroes of this novel find themselves deeper and deeper in the proverbial sh*t. The construction of the story and development of the characters enabled most judges to embrace and delight in the familiar characters and scenarios. This isn’t a deep or terribly original book, but it was fun and fast paced, and it hooked several judges into immediately finishing the series.

Comments from selected judges are as follows:

Julia

It is fun and fast paced enough (if you like a lot of strategic thinking—on the light side—and battles) but lacked the depth for me to really fall in love. It starts off right in a bloody battle; however, as I do not know anyone, I simply don’t care who dies. At times, the story felt a bit too “easy” (as in the opposite of complex), as problems get solved in a way that just feels shallow. The characters weren’t bad, but also not as fleshed out as I would like and instead often felt a bit like walking tropes. Nevertheless, a good read and I finished the series.

Kartik

This series is like a Dirty Dozen / Guns of Navarone type military themed fantasy. I liked Shields in Shadow so much I ended up binge reading the entire quadrilogy. There are shades of Richard Sharp in the main character when it comes to the relentless fighting and moving from one dire situation to the another. The series has a satisfying ending too, which is rare in this kind of fiction. The one criticism I have is its immense length—I feel half the books could have been cut away to keep the series nice and tight.

Kerry

We get to spend time with each member of the group, and I like how we see their flaws as well as their skills; a couple of them became favourites very quickly. I think even if one is not a fan of military fantasy there are some great skills learnt in strategising for warfare. This is not a high magic book but there’s Snarl, a gorgeous fox with wings; an Alchemist team member whose use of poisons and explosive potions is a mix of talent and luck and a later character who heals. I enjoyed this book and wanted to know more of the characters and where their futures lay, so I purchased the next two books in the series to read as soon as I finished this.

Lynn

This is an enjoyable military fantasy. From the first chapter, the action is tense, the horror unabated. It’s as warfare should be, a bloody mess of pain. It establishes the characters’ hatred of the enemy and a strong fear of their mission. There is little magic in the story although there’s a very adorable mythic creature, a fox with wings. The prose is good, the writing is good, and the plot is unique. The characterizations become key points early on. While I’m not quite as hooked as other readers would undoubtedly be, those who enjoy military fantasy will enjoy Shields in Shadow.

Marielle

Really a fun and easy read, although not the most original book. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Great characters, liked the sarcastic writing style and the magic system.

Total Score: 7.5

– – –

Our judges are A. M. Justice, Alicia Wanstall-Burke, Amanda Cenker, Julia Kitvaria Sarene, Kartik Narayanan, Kerry Smith, Lynn Kempner, and Mariëlle Ooms-Voges. If you’d like to learn more about us, including our likes and dislikes, you can read about them here.

Any queries should be directed to A. M. Justice via DM (Facebook/Twitter).

Share

Leave a Comment