Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Shadow Magic (Lyra, #1)” as Want to Read:
Shadow Magic (Lyra, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Shadow Magic

(Lyra #1)

3.50  ·  Rating details ·  2,158 ratings  ·  216 reviews
In the magic woods of Lyra, a noblewoman struggles to escape from a faceless man
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: quic
Paperback, 256 pages
Published September 15th 1986 by Ace (first published September 1982)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Shadow Magic, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Ashley Lambert-Maberly I think that's fair, though. We're not trying to make an assessment of how ground-breaking something may have been at the time, like historians might-…moreI think that's fair, though. We're not trying to make an assessment of how ground-breaking something may have been at the time, like historians might--we're reacting to how much we enjoyed reading it now (or whenever we did read it).

Those of us with a rich sense of historical perspective might mention such things in our reviews of certain books--I generally give a bit of a pass to mild sexism or racism of the kind that would have seemed unremarkable to the original audience, though (esp. if it's frequent) I may mention it to warn current readers.

But otherwise I read a book, and I judge it on how it works for me, here and now. I have definitely read several books that would clearly have been more enjoyable upon original publication.

Lianne Burwell Sheltered teen? I would say probably. Certainly, while there was some romance, there is nothing beyond a kiss (and barely) as I remember, but there is…moreSheltered teen? I would say probably. Certainly, while there was some romance, there is nothing beyond a kiss (and barely) as I remember, but there is some violence. But it's clean enough that it almost counts as middle-grade these days. My absolute favourites, though, are Caught in Crystal and The Raven Ring.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.50  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,158 ratings  ·  216 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Shadow Magic (Lyra, #1)
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. ...more
The Captain
Feb 18, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandon-ship
It's time to abandon ship, me mateys! Me first one of the year. This author has written marvelous things like the enchanted forest chronicles (adored them all!) and sorcery and cecelia (cute and fun!). I had always wanted to read her Lyra series and finally tracked down an omnibus of the first three books in the series. To say I was excited is an understatement. And then the time finally came to immerse meself in this new world. I was expecting great things.

I got grumpitude. Basically, I found t
One of Wrede's earliest books, and not the strongest in terms of characterisation or plot. Prophecy, magical items, evil entities. The kidnapped girl is competent, and gets to do some stuff, but it's one of those noblewomen must be put aside and protected kinds of societies. ...more
Jun 11, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Feb 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars. Sorry to split hairs.

Fun, refreshing, light, easy, entertaining reading. This Patricia Wrede's first book of her career. More development and learning for the author at this stage, but she caught the essence of it. I dislike to compare with other books, but we do know best sometimes from analogies. As I read this, I flashed backed to another light fantasy, The Sword of Shannara Trilogy (Shannara, #1-3) by Terry Brooks The Sword of Shannara Trilogy. A very similar style of writing.

Did I say fun? :)
Alex Fayle
May 24, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Brenda Lower
Dec 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, teen
So, there's reviews of this that state that it's not as good as some of her later books. This was her first book! If my first book is this good, I'd be totally happy. ...more
Melissa McShane
Jan 27, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
My main impression of this book was "This couldn't possibly have been written by the author of Dealing With Dragons etc." ...more
Mary Ann Bulloch
Jul 27, 2014 rated it liked it
A good build up, but the end was too rushed. Everything was resolved to quickly and easily. I was a little let down.
Sep 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
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)
Jun 28, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: kindle, fantasy
**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
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
Shelves: fantasy, e-library
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  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teen, own, series, fantasy, digital
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  ·  review of another edition
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...
Aug 12, 2014 rated it liked it
Pretty generic, even with the rewrites. However, this is Patricia Wrede's first book, so it's understandable. ...more
Shannon Hayes
Jun 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
L like how Wrede uses language. She's not afraid to let her heroes suffer. The heroine was strong & mostly self sufficient. ...more
Feb 16, 2019 rated it liked it
This was ok, not great. It did improve in the final third, but I thought it could use a bit more character development. I guess I found the story a little too simply told.
Jan 27, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: series, nook
For some reason, I had a hard time getting into this book at first. I'm thinking it's a combination of having been her first published work, (the editing of which she addresses at the beginning of this new edition,) and the fact that it was written in 1982. In 2021, we have the cinematic fantasy of Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter running through our imaginations and it's hard not to have this book reflect poorly against that. However, purposely removing those images allows me to see this book ...more
Jun 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
first of all, YES. second of all, super glad my "bought in 2016" shelf finally delivered. third of all. patricia c wrede has been a big fave since i was in high school and i discovered "dealing with dragons" and i'm so glad to find that some of her other books are just as good. i love alethia and her proposal at the end of the book was just 😫👌 we stan a queen who knows her politics and archery and is willing to learn and better herself. ...more
Although I enjoyed this book when I was younger, I did not find myself so engaged as an adult.
Apr 05, 2020 rated it liked it
As many reviewers have pointed out, this is not Wrede’s best work. Still, I enjoyed it
Nina {ᴡᴏʀᴅs ᴀɴᴅ ᴡᴀᴛᴇʀ}
3.5 stars - I'm leaning higher rather than lower.

This was a quick, easy, very simple fantasy novel! I did really like the clear pace, the main characters were interesting in their own way, and the plot while predictable was relatively easy to follow.
Mar 03, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
What's the Name o...: Shee [s] 5 48 Dec 13, 2014 06:27AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Differently Morphous
  • A Dance with Fate (Warrior Bards, #2)
  • The Ladies of Mandrigyn (Sun Wolf and Starhawk, #1)
  • Ten Thousand Stitches (Regency Faerie Tales, #2)
  • No One Noticed the Cat
  • Sweet Venom (Medusa Girls, #1)
  • Can't Stand the Heat (Corporate Chaos, #2)
  • Piranesi
  • Nine Goblins
  • An Accident of Stars (Manifold Worlds, #1)
  • Three Hearts and Three Lions
  • A Son for the Alien Warrior (Treasured by the Alien, #2)
  • From the Editorial Page of the Falchester Weekly Review (The Memoirs of Lady Trent #3.5)
  • Paddlers, Promises & Poison (Camper & Criminals #16)
  • Murder and Marshmallows (A Bite-sized Bakery Cozy Mystery Book 15)
  • Sweet Saboteur (The Cozy Café Mysteries #1)
  • Treason in the North (Path of the Ranger, #4)
  • Ink & Sigil (Ink & Sigil, #1)
See similar books…
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

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)

Related Articles

Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our...
42 likes · 12 comments
“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
More quotes…