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Shadow Magic (Lyra #1)

3.52 of 5 stars 3.52  ·  rating details  ·  1,147 ratings  ·  94 reviews
Trouble is brewing in Alkyra. While the kingdom’s noblemen squabble, on their borders an ancient enemy, the Lithmern, raises an army. As the head of the Noble House of Brenn attempts to organize an alliance, the princess Alethia celebrates her twentieth birthday. She is a remarkable woman: quick-witted, beautiful, and handy with a throwing knife. But on the next night, she ...more
ebook, 284 pages
Published December 13th 2011 by Open Road Media (first published September 1982)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,545)
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Miriam
Astonishingly generic, bloodless, and boring high fantasy from the usually at least entertaining Patricia Wrede. Some fairly flat characters including a minstrel, an elf, a Chosen One, a warrior, a magician etc are drawn into danger and learn they must go on a quest to find some lost magic objects to save the kingdom from the Evil Race* and the non-human totally-evil no-shades-of-gray Shadow-born who possess people, because they are evil and want to destroy stuff. Luckily for them, all the obsta ...more
Allison
I've enjoyed later books by Wrede, but this one is awful. It's boring, it's vague, it's full of details that don't matter and every meal along the way. Nothing happens. I don't know or care about any of the characters after over 100 pages. I feel terrible DNF'ing another book, but can't force myself any further. It's the end of year cleanup of my TBR shelf, apparently. I've just been cutting off dead weight the last few days. Here goes another.
Julie
This is a fairly stereotypical fantasy novel. She has a few creative elements in her world/history, but otherwise it's a "been there, done that" book with a plot bordering on overused. It was amusing to read, but nothing special. The next two books in the "series" (set chronologically in the same world, but not particularly interdependent, read them in any order you wish) are much more creative and engaging.

The Harp of Imach Thyssel andDaughter of Witches
M—
Wrede. Oh, Wrede. You know I love your books. Just not this one.

The kiss of death fell about halfway in for me, when the stunning structural similarities to Star Wars: Episode One (1999) dawned on me. Council meetings, power-hungry politicians, miraculous nick-of-time helpers, hidden magical abilities, mysterious bloodlines; all right, so the stories aren't perfect riffs off each other, but I have truly not encountered such a collection of cliches since viewing Episode One lo those many long yea
...more
Alex Fayle
Although Wrede is one of my favorite authors, I'd never read any of her Lyra books and until recently thought I'd never get the chance. But with the surge in ebooks, all of her Lyra books are now available electronically.

Shadow Magic was Wrede's first book and despite her later revision of it, you can tell. It's still a great read, but the seams in the stitching of the plot are rather visible. It actually feels like it should have been a longer book and as readers we get the abridged version. I
...more
Ingeborg
**Spoilers ahead!!**

I liked the first chapters, the characters seemed interesting and I was excited to see it progress and then it just... fell flat somhow? It's classic high fantasy, riddled with genre stereotypes, but in so many other high fantasy books those are handled well and the story is still interesting - here.. meh. (ah! you must be the one the prophecy is talking about since your name means something a long those lines! and of course you have incredible powers for some really vague r
...more
Cecelia
Shadow Magic is the first of the Lyra books by Patricia C. Wrede, one of my auto-buy authors. Wrede wrote Dealing with Dragons, Snow White and Rose Red, and the Mairelon the Magician books (all of which are on my favorites shelf). I originally read Shadow Magic as part of the Shadows Over Lyra omnibus edition, which contained the first three books in the Lyra series.

Alethia is a rather headstrong young noblewoman, unaware of much of the world beyond her father’s holdings in a peaceful city-state
...more
Lady
Mostly this was a good book and I have to wonder if I would have liked it more had I read an actual book and not a kindle version.

Because my main reticence in really enjoying this book is that it didn't have enough depth for me. And I know from past readings that sometimes that's a result of being introduced to a book first as a kindle book rather than an actual book.

The story moved quickly and was well plotted and the pacing was pretty great. But I didn't feel like I got to know the characters
...more
Maria
Princess Alethia is kidnapped by the neighboring kingdom, Lithmern, in advance of their invasion. She must escape and make her way back to warn her people.

Why I started it: I love Wrede's Dealing with Dragons and her other series Sorcery and Cecelia, or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot. I wanted to read her earlier work.

Why I finished: While not as polished or delightful as the two series I mentioned above, this work shows the promise of what is to come and was pleasant.
Mdh
2.5 stars

This book was a disappointment to me, but not really in and of itself. Shadow Magic is Wrede's first novel, and it really reads like it. The world building is good, the characters are ok, though pretty two-dimensional, and the pacing moves along at an acceptable rate. I also think that the female lead is pretty acceptable for something written in the early 80s.

But the book is lacking in heart, which her later books have in spades. Some of her later books are among my favourites. I have
...more
Trice
starting out it seemed so ridiculously generic and predictable that I almost put it down and away for good. somehow it grabbed me a bit into the forest and I did end up enjoying the reading, but it doesn't bear up to any deeper thought. so 3stars for the enjoyment, with the acknowledgement that she writes this was one of her first novels written, if not the very first one she wrote - can't quite remember. I liked Dealing with Dragons because it was so obviously lampooning fairytale tropes, but s ...more
MarsianMan
This was far too short a story. The plot just feels like it needs to be fleshed out a LOT more. The girl magically finds the hidden items and is able to destroy the enemy? It felt more like a skeleton of a story....And the love angle is almost completely random!

I would say skip it unless you really like the author.
Jessica
This book is not good. Let me just say that I love Patricia C. Wrede's writing, so don't judge the rest of her books by this flop.

Also, this is Wrede's first book, so I admire the story for getting her started. As someone once told me, it's like learning to make baskets. Your first one is terrible, but you hang onto the stinker anyway, so you can see how much better you get at making baskets. Wrede's other baskets are much, much better.

Why is this book such a stinker? Let me count the ways.
1. Th
...more
Mary-Beth
There's nothing really wrong with this book. It just didn't grab my attention. It wasn't so bad I mightn't try reading the rest of the series anyway - I read the Raven Ring a long time ago.

It's just that none of the main characters particularly thrilled me. To be honest, I was sort of annoyed the protagonist was a human, especially with the Shee and the Wyrd around. I especially enjoyed the Wyrd - fuzzy little ewok type people.

I remember the Shadow Born from the other novel in the series and I
...more
Aelvana
Again, not so much a boring story as a bland one. Been there, done that. The most interesting thing about it could have been the three non-human races, but the little forest buggers were happy to bend over backwards to help the humans they're usually skewering, the elf-clones were completely one-dimensional, and the fish people only got maybe three lines (and were also willing to bend over backwards to work together with humans). Somehow all the prejudice that should've been there, on ALL sides, ...more
Melissa McShane
My main impression of this book was "This couldn't possibly have been written by the author of Dealing With Dragons etc."
ms bookjunkie
Eh, you can tell it's a first book. It's not bad per se, it's really quite okay (talk about being damned by faint praise!), but it's nowhere near as wonderful as her later books. (Okay, so it's somewhat generic and tedious.) It's lacking in the sophisticated worldbuilding, plot, and story arc I'm used to from PW, not to mention the charm, magic, and compelling, imaginative story.

Do not read this as your first taste of PW! Go for her Frontier Magic trilogy instead, or her Cecelia and Kate trilogy
...more
Anoush Emrazian
A mysterious and ancient evil magic has come to take over the country of Alkyra. Four races that have been separated for hundreds of years must now come together to bind this evil power and save everyone. Alethia, the daughter of a Noble Family, is the key to all of this and this book is about her journey through magic and her unique gifts due to her parentage.

I really enjoyed this story. I came into this knowing it was her first book and having already read Wrede's words about editing it and ho
...more
Angela
Do you like shadows? Do you like magic? You... might?... like this book. Ringing Endorsement. The characters are simplistic but likeable, the plot actually moves really quickly, and the good guys win at the end. Hurraaaay!

This book is probably objectively not very good. The prose is primitive and the dialogue is doofy, okay? But I had fun! Even here in her debut novel, you see Wrede's skill at pacing. There's also something both refreshing and familiar about the woodsy, lyrical atmosphere of th
...more
An Odd1
Her brother Har and best friend Maurin return safely from the Lithmern border where other caravans have completely vanished. Alethia listens in on their father Braca's fears of war, ignored by the eight other Noble Houses of Lyra who squabble amongst themselves. Her mother Isme has a bad feeling. Instead of celebrating her 20th birthday party, Alethia gets kidnapped by a cloaked "man with no face" and magically-shielded Lithmern.

But help comes unexpectedly Wyrds, mythical small furry forest arc
...more
Rista Rarzim
Enjoyable book. Finishes rather fast and rather cleanly given the gigantic mess everything was turning into. Just one of those situations where you can see the plot be shoved in this or that direction instead of feeling more organic in nature. Still enjoyable though. Wish I hadn't read the "before the book starts" portion that goes into talk about this book series and how the 2nd book is set in the same world but has different characters in a different location. Still planning to read the series ...more
Linda
finished! there were several cute moments sprinkled throughout the book, but i wish there'd been more. the worldbuilding was interesting, so i'm glad there are more books set in this world. but i have to say that the plot and characters were underdeveloped. i'm not a fan of the chosen one/special snowflake trope, and alethia basically triumphed on the strength of special snowflakeness. ah well, hopefully the rest of the lyra books will be better -- this is her first book, after all. it can only ...more
Sara
I have lost patience with poor writing. This is another story that could have been great but at no point in this book does the author make me care about the characters, their country, or their fate. The characters are flat and dull. Their dialogue is wooden at best, downright silly at worst. And SUDDENLY incredibly powerful magic. And undying love. No. Just no. Two stars for an idea that was deserving of more than one star.
Chris
Oof. This one was a serious struggle to get through. I enjoyed Wrede's Sorcery and Cecilia, but this book had clunky prose, totally flat characters, cliche's aplenty, and was just utterly uninteresting to me. I forgive a lot, because it was her first book, but I'm not sure I'll give any of her other books a try after this one.
Fate's Lady
This was not my favorite fantasy book. The main character was very "speshul", with the solutions to even devastating problems seeming to fall straight into her lap. The characters were railroaded through the entire plot without seeming to actually take action or make decisions on their own, and the conclusion, even long after it was foregone, took forever to wrap up. I like a lot more agency and heroics in my heroes, not just a cart-load of right-place-right-time/Destiny.
Rebecca
Not Patricia's best book, but nice to see how she has developed into an amazing author over time. I'd like to see how the harsher critics would feel as their first baby was ripped to shreds. I've read much worse. This was an enjoyable first introduction to the world of Lyra.
Beth
Jul 30, 2014 Beth rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: ya, fantasy
I could tell that this was her first novel, even with her revisions. It was like Lord of the Rings but not as well-written or interesting. I actually missed important plot points while reading because I found myself skimming and had to go back and reread several parts to figure out how the characters got to the point at which they were. I probably will read the next one to see if it improves, but not my favorite of hers.
Asti
It's 3.5 .
Not as well developed as her later books, but actually ok.
The problem was, because I've enjoyed so much the enchanted forest chronicles, the Mairelon-Kim books, the 13th child series, I had sort of a standard regarding Wrede's writing.
But in this book I suppose she hasn't found the writing style that became her marks later.
This book is more about the story than the writing.
Some part of the book was actually dragging, spent too much sentences on not so interesting matter, while some re
...more
Kate E
I liked the plot and the world-building, but I really could have used (a LOT) more in the way of character development. Thankfully, I was aware of the deficiencies of this first book when I started it, so I wasn't exactly disappointed, just sad at lost potential.
Буянхишиг Отгонсэлэнгэ
Can't finish this one. There isn't enough plots and it is too slow going. It's my first book from Patricia Wrede, maybe she developed her skill on the time. I hope her other book can entertain me.
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What's The Name o...: Shee [s] 5 48 Dec 13, 2014 06:27AM  
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Patricia Collins Wrede was born in Chicago, Illinois and is the eldest of five children. She started writing in seventh grade. She attended Carleton College in Minnesota, where she majored in Biology and managed to avoid taking any English courses at all. She began work on her first novel, Shadow Magic, just after graduating from college in 1974. She finished it five years later and started her se ...more
More about Patricia C. Wrede...

Other Books in the Series

Lyra (5 books)
  • Daughter of Witches (Lyra, #2)
  • The Harp of Imach Thyssel (Lyra, #3)
  • Caught in Crystal (Lyra #4)
  • The Raven Ring (Lyra, #5)
Dealing with Dragons (Enchanted Forest Chronicles, #1) Searching for Dragons (Enchanted Forest Chronicles, #2) Calling on Dragons (Enchanted Forest Chronicles, #3) Talking to Dragons (Enchanted Forest Chronicles, #4) Sorcery & Cecelia: or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot (Cecelia and Kate, #1)

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“the Queen of Alkyra can consort with whoever the Black she pleases!” 0 likes
“must tell them sometime,” Alethia said. “I would rather get it over with now. And they are conveniently on our doorstep.” 0 likes
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