A Tale of Light and Shadow (Book #1) by Jacob Gowans
Enter Atolas, a world where feuds and friendships influence kingdoms and courtships. Henry and Isabelle have secretly sworn to marry despite his lowly station. Though Henry is but a carpenter, his devotion drives him to commit an unthinkable act that may cost both of them their lives. Meanwhile, a secret, dark prophecy has set in motion events that will affect not only them, but the thrones of rulers throughout all of Atolas, threatening to eclipse the world in shadow. But all is not lost while hope remains in the guise of an unlikely hero and the strength of friendship.
Sword fighting, love, friendship, adventure, sacrifice, betrayal, and gold are a few words I would use to describe this book. What an adventure! I enjoyed this book. I thought that for the most part it is well written. It isn't a super fast read for some reason; it took me awhile to read it. The character development is done really well, and as you read you find yourself drawn to this new world. Henry and Isabelle are favorite characters; they are flawed, for sure. They are realistic characters that try their hardest to be all they need to be, but they do fail. I liked Maggie a lot too. Ruther is an interesting character, and you never really know if you can trust him or not, so it adds a little bit of tension to the mix. Brandol is a dull character who got annoying. You just want to scream at him to toughen up. The story is unique and creative. There's a hint of fantasy in it, but you never see anything more than just that far away hint. I love the friendship lessons that are taught in this book. Even though they may argue and distrust each other sometimes, you see how strong the bond of friendship can become. Henry, especially, shows how important that is. The evil Emperor is a great villain. You just love to hate him in this book. There are a few cheesy parts in this book, but it's fun and entertaining. I enjoyed it.
There are a few things in this book that make it inappropriate for children younger than 13. One of the characters is meant to be sold into slavery as a "concubine" to the evil Emperor. It doesn't go into a lot of detail, but you know that means that she will be his "intimacy" slave. Also, one of the characters is a drunk. He drinks constantly throughout the whole book, and there is at least one scene where several of them are drunk. There isn't any profanity, which is great. There is also quite a bit of violence in this book as the friends fight for their lives against a massive army. Some of the descriptions are quite graphic and are gruesome. I think the cover art is a little bit cheesy, and it's not my favorite, but I have seen worse.
Rating: PG-13 (There isn't any profanity, but there is talk of a woman character being sold into slavery as one of the Emperor's concubines, It doesn't go into more detail than that, but it is implied that she will be an "intimacy" slave. There is also some domestic violence, the deaths of a few characters, and some fighting. Some of the fight scenes are very detailed and can be gruesome.
Recommendation: Young Adult (13-18) and up
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.