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Shadow Magic (Lyra #1)

3.52  ·  Rating details ·  1,643 Ratings  ·  139 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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Jul 31, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
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
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.
Jun 11, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Melissa McShane
Jan 27, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
My main impression of this book was "This couldn't possibly have been written by the author of Dealing With Dragons etc."
Sep 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
An Odd1
Jan 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
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
Ingeborg (Ivy)
**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
Mar 06, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Jun 02, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-it, fantasy
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
Oct 23, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: teen, own, fantasy, digital, series
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.
Rista Rarzim
Dec 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Enjoyable run-of-the-mill early 80s fantasy complete with likable royalty (definitely pre-90s!) and snooty ersatz-elves - well-done and all-ages friendly (unlike the next book, Daughter of Witches) so you can see why Wrede did so well at her later YA novels. Stylistically, she would also have been a good match to have done series work for TSR when they were still publishing...
Mary Bulloch
A good build up, but the end was too rushed. Everything was resolved to quickly and easily. I was a little let down.
Aug 12, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty generic, even with the rewrites. However, this is Patricia Wrede's first book, so it's understandable.
Shannon Hayes
Jun 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
L like how Wrede uses language. She's not afraid to let her heroes suffer. The heroine was strong & mostly self sufficient.
Mar 03, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
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
Anoush Emrazian
Feb 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, ebook, magic, series
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
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
Nov 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 passes through a dark corridor on her way to the banquet hall, and never emerges from the shadows. The Lithmern have kidnap ...more
Aunt Edie
Aug 09, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, fantasy
I've been enjoying the information and ideas in all of the nonfiction I've been consuming this year. But my mind is currently craving the mental relaxation that happens when you crawl up inside an immersive piece of fiction and spend some time. So I picked up the Lyra series. Shadow Magic is not just the first in the series, it is also Wrede's first book. And it reads like a first book. Nothing wrong with it exactly but it isn't as well-written as later stuff. It is a basic fantasy with all the ...more
Dave Neuendorf
This is a passable YA fantasy, the author's first novel. It has a strong female lead, whom the reader gets to know reasonably well, and lots of other characters of minimal interest. There's a romance, but it's predictable and blah.

I've heard that the author got a lot better, so I'll try one more of her books. We'll see
May 01, 2015 rated it liked it
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
3.5. Not a bad first novel, and not a bad book, but pretty expected high fantasy fare, with magic, battles, mysterious humanoid non-human people, and reasonably likable characters I wished were more fleshed out. I felt the pacing was a wee bit awkward, the narrative was distant and detached in places where I would have liked vivid detail, and the development of some relationships was somewhat flat and predictable. The ending felt a tad abrupt and not very satisfying, and I had the suspicious fee ...more
Feb 08, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, adventure
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
This book in the series was definitely different from the first one that I read. Although set in the same world, this book is set in a different kingdom. It still focuses on getting rid of the super evil shadow born, but I rather liked the whole priest+desert kingdom aspect of it (reminded me of some other books that I can't remember now, but I did like).

I was very surprised by the time that the end came, the book just flew by. They all escaped the town, had misadventures on the road, and next t
I discovered Patricia C. Wrede when I was in high school. I devoured every book she wrote. This was my least favorite series, but when I saw it on a Daily Deal, I couldn't resist buying the whole series.

I started reading this book expecting to get washed away in the story, but 2 weeks later I was still in the first 1/5 of the first book. I just couldn't get into it. At all. I was so bored.

I know that certain books have their seasons, and perhaps my time has passed for this one. Who knows, maybe
I'd been intending to read this for some time, on the strength of liking Ms. Wrede's writing, and a sale price on the kindle edition (and the fact that I was reading a piece of utter crap) made me decide it was finally time!

Pretty standard fantasy fare, pretty YA. Those aren't bad things, but it means there's nothing earth-shakingly new here. World decently imagined, although lots of names and intricate history; very understated romance element - so understated that it is not a surprise, but not
Dec 31, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This book was fast-paced, with an interesting world and fun characters. It didn't have a ton of nuance or depth to it, and the characterization was a bit weak, but it was enjoyable standalone fantasy, and that's refreshing. It would've been much better off without its romantic subplot - while the two characters in question do interact in the book, I'd hardly say that sparks were flying off the page. Basically, they seem friendly enough with each other, until it's the end of the book and we're to ...more
Sep 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shadow Magic was the first book that PW wrote and in the intro to the ebook edition she shows the revisions she has made and explains why she is making them. Very interesting for any aspiring writers,
I read this years ago and enjoyed it again. Even with the rewrite this is still a first book in that it wraps up far to quickly and easily ... but perhaps this thought is more a reflection of my enjoyment of complexity and greater detail in stories - as a younger reader I was always impatient for t
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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)

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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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