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Shadow (Scavenger #1)

3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  824 ratings  ·  40 reviews
K.J. Parker received critical acclaim for her Fencer Trilogy, and Shadow is the first book in the Scavenger Trilogya series that takes fantasy fiction into remarkable new territory. A man wakes in the wilderness, amid scattered corpses and inquisitive crows. He has no memory of who he is or how he came to be there. The only clues to his former existence lie in his apparent ...more
Paperback, 572 pages
Published June 2001 by Orbit (first published 2001)
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The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz ZafónThe Way of Shadows by Brent WeeksThe Shadow Rising by Robert JordanLuck in the Shadows by Lynn FlewellingHeir to the Shadows by Anne Bishop
The Shadow knows!
183rd out of 213 books — 70 voters
A Game of Thrones by George R.R. MartinThe Name of the Wind by Patrick RothfussThe Final Empire by Brandon SandersonThe Way of Kings by Brandon SandersonA Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
Best Epic Fantasy
111th out of 135 books — 86 voters

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Community Reviews

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5 Stars

I feel as a lover of adult oriented, dark, intelligently written fantasy, that I am obligated to point out why this flawed book deserves full marks and it deserves a wider audience. This is a complicated and at times confusing story that centers on a man with no name. Our main protagonist wakes up in a river filled with dead soldiers. He is obviously suffering from a head wound as he cannot remember who he is, why he is there, and where he should be going. The adventure begins as our hero
I ordered this book based on the other reviews I was seeing on Amazon. I have to admit the book is a very interesting concept and really keeps you guessing. Neat concept, very thought provoking. Definitely not what I would call a "candy" book (all good action, entertaining, but you never think twice about it after reading it).

Unfortunately I feel that it could have had more depth and more action. As you follow the character through the book you end up looking at everything very dispassionately.
Joey Cruz
I picked this book up because the premise sounded like a fantasy version of the Bourne Identity, and that appealed to me. What I got, though, was a subtle, meticulous, surprisingly funny, and infuriatingly evasive mystery with a main character who may be a great hero, or the worst villain on earth, or maybe the god of destruction.

As reads go, it's not the most action packed, nor is it traditionally plotted (it knows it's the first book in a trilogy, so while you get some answers in the end, the
If you are one of those people who is always bugging the creators of Lost to "please, please give us some answers!" then THIS BOOK IS NOT FOR YOU. Go away.
If you are like me, and would prefer there just to be questions on top of mysteries on top of WTFs, then this book IS for you. Welcome! Prepare to be totally confused.
Don't read any other reviews, don't read the back of the book, just start reading it and get ready to have your brains tied in a knot.
Although I was a little annoyed at the lengths to which the author goes to keep us from knowing the real identity of the main character (until the very end... though I suspect what is revealed is only part of the answer), I found this a compelling study in identity, politics, and religion. I really hope the protagonist (in addition to what we've learned) turns out to be the god of destruction that he suspects he might be... moving on to book #2.

Just another great book from KJ Parker; barely waiting to continue with the next one which I stared first but stopped to wait for this one once I got hooked.
Ross Norris
I read so many excellent reviews for this book that I couldn't not read it. It started off great with clever writing and an intriguing mystery but those both quickly tapered off, leaving a book that I had to force myself to finish. It is by no means a bad book as others have derived far more pleasure from it than me, Its just not really my cup of tea.

As an impulse buyer I bought the trilogy in one go so at some point I will probably finish the story. Maybe I will be surprised and fall in love bu
The Great Dan Marino
(This is a somewhat edited version of an e-mail I sent a few friends after first reading it. --v)

This epic fantasy starts with a man waking up in the aftermath of a skirmish, looking around and seeing 25 or so dead soldiers with a couple of different uniforms, and realizing he's lost his memory. He has no idea who he is, but we all soon find out he has the skills of a master swordsman. He has no idea why though or recollection of where the skills came from. From there, things get complicated.

I s
This was an interesting read. I've read the Engineer trilogy, and the writing style was very similar; very unconventional, and very much different from the vast majority of authors writing in the genre. Parker is a very technical writer. I keep getting the sense that I'm reading passages from an instruction manual. Everything is always very detailed and constructed, almost stiff. My main problem with this book was probably what made it so original. I couldn't quite get a handle as to what the he ...more
Shadow, the first in the Scavenger Trilogy, starts off in an ominous and disconcerting manner. A man wakes up in the midst of a battlefield, scattered with dead bodies, none of whom he recognise.He observes two sides of the battle, but he sees that he does not seem to belong to either side. Also, he has lost his memory. The first chapter confuses both the reader and the protagonist. He dreams of speaking to his reflection, he has dreams of being characters in the kingdom he can not remember havi ...more
Sooo . . . How's your tolerance for frustration? If not very high, then you might want to skip this one, although you'll be missing some good stuff. Our hero awakens in a mudpuddle in the middle of a battlefield; he has no idea who he is, although he soon discovers that he does have certain talents, both martial and otherwise. He begins by joining a woman driving a cart (she goes around to villages impersonating a priestess and needs someone to impersonate a god), although that doesn't last long ...more
Nev Percy
Excellent. It's 'alternate medieval'; it will be familiar to fantasy readers but with the supernatural element as far behind the scenes, as intangible and as ill-understood by anyone as it is in a historical novel.
It's a little too strongly reminiscent of the Fencer trilogy -- superlative swordsman protagonist(s), lawyer-by-the-sword substituted for priest-by-the-sword, innovative and intriguing use of weird stuff coming through dreams. And KJP's still the same author writing the stuff he like
implausible, inconsistent and sluggish.: What is the fuss over this at best mediocre book?
First we have a God ina cart (yes, a GOD, in a CART) then we have a monastery of invincible fighting monks who run a "James Bond" type of spy and assassin network, followed by an even more invincible group calling themselves "Raiders", who use funny swords and can apparently outrun a horse without working up a sweat.
The hero of the piece never actually manages to get anyone to tell him who he is before t
May 27, 2015 Vex rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: ebook
I guess this is what postmodern fantasy looks like. The concept and the plot are interesting, but it was way too "meta" for me. (Especially because, due to a misunderstanding, I expected to read an easy romance.) But it was intriguing to see how my perception of the main character changed depending on who I perceived him to be.
I really want to give this five stars. Generally the writing is pretty good. The premise amnesia suffering anti-hero is pretty great. Some of the culture and world building left me a little bored with repetition.

But, I just can't get over the fact I finished the book and felt incomplete. There just wasn't enough explained, no central conflict was solved. I spent so much time invested in getting to know a character, who doesn't really develop. I'm tempted to read the rest of the series, solely fo
I LOVE KJ Parker - but he/she makes me absolutely crazy.

I get so frustrated by the writing style and the deliberate obtuseness - do you really need a whole trilogy of characters refusing to answer questions? There really is such a thing as too clever for one's own good.

Not giving your main character a name really gives your readers headaches trying to keep all the pronouns straight. And when a character has a different name every chapter? Not going to happen.

I will read the rest of this trilogy
Jerry Miller
Took a while to get into, but an enjoyable, if sometimes confusing story. Having the main character not know who he is (I'm not giving anything away) added a different dimension to the story. HE spends the whole book trying to find the answer which leads to some interesting situations. Things are rarely how they seem. I look forward to reading the other two parts of the trilogy, but will take a break and read something a little more normal in between.
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Confusing and frustrating. Half of the time I didn't know what was happening or who it was happening to. Characters step in and out so quickly and so many different ideas are presented that I had no idea what the truth was, which in a way, is very good writing. However, I thought it took too long for the story to go anywhere. The way metaphor was used was strange too. I wasn't sure what was actually happening and what was just put in to be ironic or metaphorical. Probably won't finish the series ...more
Brian Maicke
Call it 3.5 stars. I've been trying to get this book for awhile so perhaps my anticipation clouds the review somewhat. Shadow follows the story of a man who, through traumatic injury, loses his memory and wanders the world trying to get his memories back. The frustrating thing is that when he finds people who can tell him who he is, he invariably ends up killing them.

The story is pure Parker in that it there is no great evil, just people looking out for themselves and, in most cases, trying to d
I've only read one book (The Company) by this author, and I really liked her style of writing. So, I took the plunge and bought her earlier Scavenger trilogy. I started Shadow and haven't been disappointed.
Update. This was a most interesting read. Through most of the book, you are presented with 3 possible identities for the amnesiac protagonist. Parts of the prose are repeated (pretty much word for word), but from a different POV. It could have been very confusing, but Parker pulls it off.
Russell Tassicker
Enjoyable writing, but it never quite answers the questions its amnesiac opening sets out. It's a bit like the TV show Lost in that it drip feeds you what seem like clues, but not enough to make any real sense of anything. Not sure I'm invested enough to see if the latter two thirds of the trilogy bring closure.
lynne naranek
A very. slow. plodding. tale. about a man who has lost his memory. The author lets us believe he could be a missing general, or a god out of legend, or just about anyone in between. Interesting, but SO slow that I only finished this book on the 2nd try (1st was perhaps 4 years ago - stopped about third of the way through). The ending was a bit of a let down. If I do choose to continue this tale, it's going to be with the assistance of the local library!

I've enjoyed books by this author before but found myself a bit confused and just waiting for it to end.
Tom Loock
I will revise my evaluation of this novel once I finish the trilogy.

K.J. "Tom" Parker is possibly my favourite author and what I regard as flaws now (repetitions, confusing scenes, stretched out plot) may well turn out to be master strokes in the end.

As they say, watch this space (though I know no one will) ...
Mildly confusing, though it's amusing. The main char has no idea who he is, which makes it fun cause hes trying to figure out who the hell he is along with you. Its even more entertaining cause everyone he meets who seems to know him either ends up trying to kill him, or he kills. I'd imagine this is quite frustrating.
Though the book starts off with the cliched "man with no memory" it definitely doesn't follow any established story arch. What is predetermined, does a person's memories make them who they are, are you the crow or the boy throwing stones, these questions set the theme of the book. Very refreshing and entertaining.
I have no idea what my husband has been on about all these years - telling me I wouldn't enjoy this book. I actually enjoyed it very much. It is much more subtle than the previous trilogy and a fascinating premise. I don't half have it figured out yet, but all the more reason to barrel into the next book!
Amber Craig
After finishing this I feel confused and uncertain there is any conclusion from a book point of view. I know this is a trilogy however I guess you feel there should be some closure from the first book. Some of the scenes (more of the visions/dreams) confuse me.
Rachel Toh
An amazing introduction. Engaging, interesting and mysterious. Even though it has been some years since I last read the book, I still remember the sense of excitement at finding such a good book to read. Shame about the next two books though.
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K.J. Parker is a pseudonym for Tom Holt. The author's true name was revealed on 21 April 2015.

According to the biographical notes in some of Parker's books, Parker has previously worked in law, journalism, and numismatics, and now writes and makes things out of wood and metal. It is also claimed that Parker is married to a solicitor and now lives in southern England. According to an autobiographi
More about K.J. Parker...

Other Books in the Series

Scavenger (3 books)
  • Pattern (Scavenger, #2)
  • Memory (Scavenger, #3)
Devices and Desires (Engineer Trilogy, #1) Evil for Evil (Engineer Trilogy, #2) The Folding Knife The Escapement (Engineer Trilogy, #3) Colours in the Steel (Fencer Trilogy, #1)

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“But how do we know it's really you? I mean, I could put a saucepan on my head and call myself the God of Boiled Dumplings; wouldn't mean I was telling the truth.” 5 likes
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