The Tower of Shadows: Another fantasy debut by a young wunderkind

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book reviews Drew Bowling Tides of Fate 1. The Tower of ShadowsThe Tower of Shadows by Drew Bowling

Last time I read a much-hyped fantasy debut by a promising up-and-coming talent it was the highly disappointing and, at least to me, overrated Eragon by teenager Christopher Paolini. So, even though it came with much less fanfare, I was admittedly skeptical about trying out The Tower of Shadows, another fantasy debut by a young wunderkind.
Fortunately college student Drew C. Bowling, who started his novel in high school, is a much more accomplished writer than Paolini was, and delivers an impressive first offering.

For fantasy aficionados, I doubt that The Tower of Shadows is high on your reading list because at a glance, everything about the book screams GENERIC, and with characters that include a world-weary mercenary, an apprentice wizard, assassins, a knight, evil sorcerers, and adolescents who hunger for adventure from their mundane lives, not to mention a plot for revenge that features a magical dagger, dragons, pirates and resurrecting demons, there’s really little to dispel that notion.

Yet, there’s just something about The Tower of Shadows that I couldn’t help but like. Perhaps it’s the writing, which may show its inexperience with shallow characterization, lack of world-building/mythos and the occasional inconsistency, but for the most part Drew reminds me of a young Terry Brooks with exhilarating pacing, nonstop thrills, and prose that may seem sparse, yet is descriptive and graceful. Or it could be the heroes and heroine who may be as formulaic as they come, nevertheless are likeable and you can’t help but root for them. Then again, it could be the overall tone of the book, which evokes an undeniable childlike wonder of a fairy tale world where good triumphs over evil no matter the odds.

More likely, it’s a combination of all these things and the fact that The Tower of Shadows doesn’t try to be anything than what it is, an uncomplicated, unpretentious, action-packed, fun-filled fantasy romp that reads quickly (running around 300 pages) and should appeal to readers young and old.

Ultimately, The Tower of Shadows is a flawed, yet promising start by a talented young writer in Drew C. Bowling who should only improve with time and experience. So keep an eye out for the sequel, which Drew is currently writing while finishing up college and give the ‘youngster’ a chance if you haven’t yet already…

The Tower of Shadows — (2006) Publisher: Untold ages ago, vainglorious spirits battled with the three gods in a bid for dominion over all — only to be defeated and banished below the earth to fester in their unquenchable evil. One of these vengeful demons eventually broke free and rained bloody death upon an innocent village in the land of Ellynrie. Few survived. The Starcross brothers, mere children orphaned by their parents’ slaughter, suffered very difficult fates. Corin Starcross was delivered to safety by the wizard Dale, while his brother, Cade, was abandoned to the flames that devoured their childhood home. Likewise, the mercenary Wren Tident saved his infant daughter, Kayla, from the monstrous fate that claimed her mother. When the demon retreated to its black abyss, the haunted souls left in its murderous wake did their best to carry on — save for one, who vowed retribution. When Cade Starcross reappears, he immerses himself in a secret study of the blackest arts, and a grim dance of destiny begins. His humanity withered by grief and his mind twisted by his apprenticeship to darkness, Cade seeks to use sorcery to wreak vengeance on his demon nemesis. But in order to succeed, a dagger of unearthly power wrought by the gods themselves must be found. And the blood of Cade’s brother, Corin Starcross, must be spilled. Yet all of Cade’s fury and magic will prove no match for the evil set free upon the earth. By any means and at all costs, the doomed vendetta must be stopped. A fledgling wizard, a tormented warrior, and a young girl burning with her father’s untamed spirit must rally together as the only hope of a world poised perilously at the abyss.

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ROBERT THOMPSON (on FanLit's staff July 2009 — October 2011) is the creator and former editor of Fantasy Book Critic, a website dedicated to the promotion of speculative fiction. Before FBC, he worked in the music industry editing Kings of A&R and as an A&R scout for Warner Bros. Besides reading and music, Robert also loves video games, football, and art. He lives in the state of Washington with his wife Annie and their children Zane and Kayla. Robert retired from FanLit in October 2011 after more than 2 years of service. He doesn't do much reviewing anymore, but he still does a little work for us behind the scenes.

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