Today is my turn on the Storytellers on Tour Blog Tour for Rising Shadows by Phillip Blackwater – the first book in his debut series: The Pillar of Creation. Thank you to Justine and Timy for having me along for the ride! There is a giveaway at the end of this post, so be sure to keep reading until you get there!
As tension rises between the southern and northern nations of the small continent of Exitium in the world of Anteris, the Elves turn to their eastern neighbors, the Humans, for help. They wish to learn the ways of combat, which they are not accustomed to, for they have always wielded a power far greater than forged steel. The Shards of Creation, mystical artifacts of great and virtually infinite power, have always been their prized weapon, but times have changed. They now face the same threat as the Humans: the southern nation known as the Ethula.
Wariel Ritch, general of the Human army, will take upon his shoulders this burden. But when a shadow of a past long forgotten threatens what little stability is left in the world, he will have to leave everything behind to stop it. Medregal Tergrast, an Ethulan king, dead for a thousand years, plans his return to the world of the living to gain back his former glory and finally fulfill his destiny by gaining control of the Shards of Creation. But is he really the threat people make him out to be?
In the meantime, in the bowels of the Human Kingdom, the reign of Dana Crystaloak is put into jeopardy when people around her start questioning her decisions. If she falls, war could break out across all lands.
Rising Shadows by Phillip Blackwater
Series: The Pillar of Creation (#1)
Published: August 14, 2019
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Age Group: Adult
Pages: 404 (Print Length)
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I was provided with a kindle copy of this book by Storytellers on Tour as part of the blog tour. Thank you very much, Justine and Timy! Please be sure to check out the other reviews from the fantastic bloggers and bookstagramers taking part in this tour here.
Rising Shadows is the first book in the Pillar of Creation series by Phillip Blackwater.
It is the story of a quest to find five keys hidden inside golden statues, each one in a different city on the continent of Exitium. The main person searching for these keys is a long dead King of the Ethulan race, Medregal Tergrast, in the hopes that these keys will open up the gate to the Afterworld and allow his army of souls to pass through. His soul has been brought back to life in the body of an elf, along with his five undead acolytes who have performed hundreds of sacrifices in order to have him back among them.
This is also the story of a proud career general of the Human Army, Wariel Ritch. He is in love with his Queen, Dana Crystaloak but unable to unite with her due to some old laws, which she is keen to change in order that he may rule by her side. Queen Dana is descended from the Guide – the goddess of the Human religion, Guidhism. The religion “spoke against people being in love and intimate outside of a union”, and law prevented a queen from uniting with a general.
She was born to rule, and he was born to defend.
Wariel is sent to the Elven kingdom in order to train the Elven warriors in more human combat practices. Along the way he encounters the undead king and his acolytes and makes it his new purpose to protect his kingdom by stopping their quest for the keys, picking up some unlikely companions along the way. I enjoyed getting to know each of the characters thrown together on this quest, each with quite different backgrounds and personalities.
The story is well-paced with lots of different events occurring right from the beginning. It also has an intriguing magic system, the Shards of Creation which are primarily wielded by Elves. The humans covet this power and it is hoped that by sending General Ritch to Aleza, the prime Elven city to train some of their warriors, in exchange the Humans will receive aid from the Elven shard warriors to defend their land from the marauding Ethulans.
We are introduced to the Humans first, the point of view of the first chapter being that of Wariel Ritch as he encounters an attacking force of Ethulans outside the Human city of Baylin. I enjoyed how the perspective changes from one chapter to the next, letting us get a first hand feel for each of the different races: Humans, Ethulans, Elves and Dwarves.
Medregal Tergrast was an interesting character. He has been dead for one thousand years and is unaware that his acolytes have been trying to bring him back to life for five hundred of those years. Despite being filled with rage at being stuck in the Afterworld, he is not keen on violence or death but his acolytes are very bloodthirsty. There is a particularly gory scene in an Elven tavern with everyone ending up being slaughtered. The scene seems more gory than necessary – they had already bashed someone’s head in with a chair and then grabbed the wooden leg off the dead innkeeper to hit him even more. This seems to have been the sole purpose of the innkeeper having a wooden leg, this scene didn’t work very well for me, as I am not a big fan of bloodthirsty scenes, apart from it being a useful device for the author to describe how bloodthirsty the acolytes were in comparison to their King.
When Medregast was alive he was able to unite the Ethulans. The lands he governed were prosperous and his people were healthy and happy:
You are Medregal Tergrast, last king of the Ethulas, who was said to be the most intelligent being ever to have lived. Legends say you could control the Shards of Creation like no other, do things others could not even dream of. The ruler who was unjustly denied his right to control the Shards.
Medregal experienced visions which led him to the locations of the keys:
A cave in a mountain, sparkling with treasure. A large round building, with a cheering crowd. A building covered in snow, on top of a mountain. A dark corridor filled with stone coffins.
Ilisa is a highborn Elf, working at the Academy, teaching Elven children how to use the Shards of Creation. Her king decides she had better join Wariel and use her magic to protect him on his quest to find the keys. Later in the story Ilisa gives a little more explanation about the magic system:
If I can see it, I can influence it. Another rule of the Shards. They can absorb and create, but they can also be fragmented into small particles, invisible to the naked eye, and I can make them fly where I intend to. Then I can make them create or absorb. I can also use the particles of the Shard to feel, without the need of seeing, since we share a bond.
Another interesting character who joins Wariel’s band of companions is the Faceless Reaper. She is a bounty hunter employed by the undead to stop Wariel from reaching the statue in the human city of Al Fizyr before them. She was previously the fighting champion in the Arena of that city. Noone knows her identity due to a magical hooded cloak that never allows anyone to see her face. She soon realises she has been double-crossed and agrees to join Wariel and his companions. I think she was my favourite character in the book.
The continent of Exitium, in which this story takes place, is inhabited by Humans, Elves, Ethulans, Dwarves and Norhdrans. The locations have been carefully and well thought through by the author and each land is very different from the last. A map of the continent is included at the beginning of the book.
The Elves live in a perfectly clean and shiny city made from white marble, which they have created using their magical Shards of Creation.
The mole-like dwarves live in a dormant volcano, ruled over by their king, King Delwin.They have catlike eyes with pupils that adjust to brightness and long sharp nails which can be used as secondary weapons.
The Ethulans are described as having dark skin and intense red eyes. They are short and skinny. It is customary for men to shave daily, both hair and beard. They are dressed in rags and are fond of fighting.
Nordhrans are described as being a head taller than Humans, with long white hair and beards, pale blue eyes and a strong, muscular physique and having a bad attitude and a love of fighting. They live in very basic settlements in the cold climate of the mountains to the north of the continent.
There is a secondary story running alongside the race for the keys. It is the desire by Warold and certain other members of the Human Council of Nine to overthrow Queen Dana and replace her with her cousin, Lidia, sister to Wayne, who leads the Queen’s guard. This storyline is heavy on the politics of the court and I found it a little too much of an info dump. I imagine in subsequent books this storyline will come into its own, however. Warold manages to persuade the corrupt Bishop over to his way of thinking, asking him to denounce the Queen and have his Faithsters do the same.
One thing I found a little jarring while reading this book was the use of certain typically American words. A couple of the characters often use the word “sure” in their conversations: “Rumours sure spread fast” and I also spotted “gotten”, which stood out to me as not fitting into the typical fantasy landscape. At one point Wariel says “Whatever. You have some explaining to do” which sounds more like a bratty teenager than an Army General. I think an Editor would be able to help polish up the language and make the flow of the conversations a little less jarring.
All in all, Rising Shadows is a very imaginative and well thought out epic fantasy story from a debut author, containing all the fantasy elements you could ask for: conflict between races; Elves; Dwarves; fantastical creatures (griffins, sand wyrms, Skrendar and wendigoes); an undead king; a quest; castle politics and a queen’s forbidden love for her general, even the mail is delivered via eagles!
About the Author
I am a fan of fiction, mostly fantasy, sci-fi, and post-apocalyptic (amongst others), and in all its forms, whether it is books, video games, movies, or tv-shows.
The first time I truly realized how much I loved fiction, was through The Lord of the Rings’ movies (like probably a lot of people). Since then, I traveled to so many different worlds: Halo, Mass Effect, Warcraft, Elder Scrolls, Witcher, and Fallout (to only name a few). It made me want to explore my own imagination and see what worlds I could create. This is what led me to writing.
What can you expect from my books? I don’t bother myself trying to be a flowery writer. What I want when people read my books, is for them to have good time and some fun. This is what truly matters to me.
When I’m not writing, I am: A husband. A father of three cats. Reading, gaming, or watching movies and tv shows. A big hockey fan. And when I’m done with all of that, I’m a big geek and collect a lot of stuff (No, I’m not a hoarder, I swear!).
Prize: Rising Shadows by Phillip Blackwater – One (1) of five (5) ebooks – International
Starts: February 14th, 2021 at 12:00am EST
Ends: February 21st, 2021 at 11:59pm EST
Click on the image above or click here to enter. Good Luck!