The Banished have returned, and they will have their revenge.
Zanna Alpenwood, a powerful mage, stands atop Solitude’s walls staring down at an army bent on invasion. Two hundred aged and forgotten Sparkers are all that stand between the Banished and the nation of Haltveldt.
With time running out, Zanna is forced to reach out to her estranged daughter, Calene, and set her on an impossible quest. In doing so Calene must decide between her masters and her own conscience, as she teams up with unlikely allies to forge their way over land and sea. Will they arrive in time to save the fortress of Solitude from destruction?
Only one thing is certain. Ruin is assured if Solitude falls.
It is rare for a story to grab me and never let go and that is exactly what In Solitudes Shadow does from the very first pages. Sitting at 172 pages, this novella will have you on the edge of your seat chapter after chapter until the stunning conclusion with so much more on the horizon in future entries. You will encounter: magic, battles, different races, betrayals, political agenda’s, history, and very good world building all pact into such a short book. This is without a doubt the best fantasy novella I have read since The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson. This can be read in a day and what else can I say but READ IT!
The nation of Haltveldt was once ruled by a race the humans now call the Banished who used the elves as their slaves. After years of war, the humans and the free Elves fought back and one the war and sent the Banished north to the mountains and the Haltveldt Empire was established. The humans, despite the assistance of the freed Elves, still believe them a thread to humanity and put them back in chains or put to death. The tower of Solitude was built in the North to protect the Empire should the Banished decide to muster and fight back, but for 2,000 years their was peace, until now.
Zanna is a magic user forced into exile over a deadly crime and now resides in Solitude training her apprentice. The magic system revolves around the Spark which can exist in all races but is quickly becoming scarce. The spark pulls raw energy from the body as well as nature to produce elemental magic, but at a great cost if not trained properly. There is a lot more to it, but I would be getting into spoilers. Calene is Zanna’s daughter and has ridden her mother from her mind and presence for decades. On a job in the south of the Empire, Calene comes cross a strange creature causing citizens in a local pub to be frightened. It turns out the strange creature is one of the Banished and the plot just unwinds from here. We also get another viewpoint in the capital, but I will leave that for the reader to discover.
The amount of depth, foreshadowing, and focus required to pull off a story of this magnitude in such a limited amount of pages is something to behold. Any type of fantasy fan will enjoy this as it offers something for everyone. The writing style is very reader friendly and the tone does lean more toward the gritty side but nothing over the top and vicious. I had cause to stop and imagine the several chapters I read and how they would play out in the following pages. I’m rambling on, but you get the point. This is a homerun in my books and you should add it to your collection. What are you waiting for?