Patrick's Reviews > Shadowmancer

Shadowmancer by G.P. Taylor
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May 28, 12

bookshelves: reviewed
Read from May 19 to 24, 2011

A few days ago, I saw Shadowmancer in the Young Adult section of my local library and thought it seemed really interesting. After all, I am a huge fan of dark fantasy. When I got about halfway through the book, I explored Goodreads a bit to look over other people’s reviews. To my dismay, they were all negative and had trashed the book. However, since I had already read a significant amount, I decided to finish it. Generally, it’s hard for me to hate something that I’m not forced to read, but I can say that many of the reviewers had much justification to rate the book the way they did.

The book starts of quite well. It features Parson Demurral using some sort of magic to crash an incoming ship in order to retrieve an artifact called the Keruvim. In the second chapter, it is revealed that he is a Vicar, which is equivalent to a king or something similar. The main character, Thomas, is one of the few commoners who speaks out against Demurral. Eventually, he finds Raphah, a survivor of the shipwreck who tells Thomas that he must stop Demurral from retrieving the second half of the Keruvim or else he will become amazingly powerful. The duo soon find Thomas’ friend, Kate, and proceed to try and stop Demurral.

The plot begins rather rushed. It almost seems as if it could’ve went like this: “Demurral’s evil. I have to stop him. Hey look, there’s Kate. Let’s bring her too! Hey look, I found a sword to fight things with!” I never felt that I got a good feeling of Thomas or Kate’s personalities or characters. It gives somewhat of a brief history on Thomas, but Kate feels almost like an empty shell of a character.

The middle section of the book seems to be almost entirely focused on Demurral with almost no mind to our protagonist. I found Demurral to be the most interesting character, but I wanted so desperately to imagine what he looked like, which was hard considering that the only evidence I’ve found regarding his appearance was that he looked somewhat like a priest. The chapters with Demurral aren’t too interesting either. He mostly talks with some other characters, but he doesn’t really do much of anything noteworthy. Most of the time, he’s talking about God and how he will have more power than him.

Demurral’s sidekick, Beadle, wasn’t too intersting either. He is described as being a small man with “large eyes, small ears and tufts of small black stubby hair.” I imagined him as being the usual sidekick whom the villain often kicks around and theatens for his own amusement and comic relief, somewhat like a Disney villain. He quite reminded me of Jafar’s parrot or something of that sort.

There was a serious lack of adventure in the book. I was hoping for some sort of epic journey to Demurral’s castle or something, but there was none of that. There were however, a few battles, but none of them too interesting to make note of. The magic system too felt under-developed and not prominent enough. Near the end, I was hoping for some sort of epic battle between Thomas and Demurral, but none of that.

After all this, there is still something I have to complain about: The religious aspect of the book. Many reviewers complained about that as well, but it didn’t bother me at first. However, as I went deeper and deeper into the book, it was far more prominent and far more pointless. (BRIEF SPOILERS BELOW)

The first major occurrence is when Thomas seems to slip into a dream and is visiting by someone who he refers to as The King, who is obviously God, or Riathamus as Raphah calls him. The King refers to his enemy as a “Father of Lies” and a “devouring lion,” both nicknames for Satan. Throughout the book, Raphah constantly declares his love for Riathamus while Demurral constantly references God in almost every chapter. However, near the end of the book, the religious input becomes almost overbearing. Many seemingly meaningless things happen just for the sake of having a relationship to religion. I’m not just talking about the random references to Cain and Able or Adam and Eve. I’m referring scenes such as the King suddenly coming to Thomas and helping him defeat an enemy by giving it a “pure blow in my name.” In addition, there is a random character who says “I AM WHO I AM.” (Yes, in all caps as well.) There is also an apple who gives the eater an understanding of the world and a villain who was once an angel. However the majority of these events have no real significance to the plot line whatsoever. It seems like G.P. Taylor was so desperate to add some sort of religious symbolism that he went with whatever he could possibly stuff into the book. It was intended to be somewhat of a response to the atheistic views of Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, but ends up looking sloppy and over-done.

Supposedly, there are sequels, but I think one book is more than enough for me.
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Reading Progress

05/23/2011 page 49
17.0% "He is told by a king that his enemy is a "father of lies" and "devouring lion." Two nicknames for Satan"
05/23/2011 page 119
41.0% "Awesome quote"
05/24/2011 page 157
55.0% "Cain and Abel referenced"
05/24/2011 page 204
71.0% "Able to destroy monsters with faith"
05/24/2011 page 219
76.0% "Some random character says I AM WHO I AM"
05/24/2011 page 245
85.0% "Apple that gives understanding"
05/24/2011 page 253
88.0% "Demurral looks like a priest, apparently"
05/24/2011 page 270
94.0% "Pyratheron was once an angel"

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