Owl King Publishing, LLC


Shadow from the Past Cover
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Shadow from the Past might scare away some readers with its concept of an interlocking matrix series. It's the first book in The Necromancer Trilogy, but the third book in The Weapons Trilogy, in addition to being the third book in the complete series known as the Legends of the Four Races. Having read none of the other books in the series, I can safely say that this story can be enjoyed on its own, without having to worry about the interlocking matrix.

The story takes place in a world similar to the one that exists within The Lord of the Rings, where forest-dwelling Arboreals, war-like Ferfolk, and others co-exist under a tense semblance of peace. Humans also exist in this world but their numbers are few, and getting smaller all the time. Jarlen is the orphan son of an Arboreal father and a human mother. His mixed heritage makes it almost impossible to fit in with the Arboreal children in his village, but his human blood also allows him to understand and wield a powerful magic that only confounds most people - the magic of humans. Jarlen is made apprentice to Zehuti, an Elder who has been researching human magic. For the first time since the death of his parents, Jarlen feels a sense of belonging and takes to his studies with a passion. Soon, he is sent on his first quest to find an ingredient needed for Zehuti's research. Along the way, Jarlen helps a young Ferfolk in trouble. He wants to learn more about the Ferfolk but a vision compels him to return to his village. He returns in time to see his master die in a blaze of green fire. Zehuti's last instruction to him is to look for answers in the Forbidden Wood and Jarlen swears to find the one responsible for his new family's death.

Jarlen is a fascinating character that I liked immediately. Orphaned and with a mixed heritage, he's an outsider in almost every way. His ability to wield human magic makes him more competent in a fight than he would otherwise be, but he is still just a boy in the early stages of learning so he's a long way from being an unbeatable wizard. This vulnerability, combined with his easy-going and friendly nature, made him someone I enjoyed reading about. His new friendship with the Ferfolk, Tyraz, was interesting to watch grow. Two completely different boys raised to see each other as enemies learn that they really aren't all that different as they pursue a common goal. The world created by Rappaport is as textured and real as the world that actually exists complete with various types of people and a history that adds depth to the story.

Shadow from the Past is perfect for anyone who enjoys fantasy, and completely safe for young adult and middle grade readers because the violence remains fairly bloodless and vulgar language is non-existent. While I'm still not sure about the interlocking matrix idea, I do plan to continue Jarlen's adventure in the sixth book of the Legends of the Four Races series, which also happens to be the second book in The Necromancer Trilogy.