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Shadow Magic

(Lyra #1)

3.50  ·  Rating details ·  1,965 ratings  ·  184 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
...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published September 15th 1986 by Ace (first published September 1982)
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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…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.

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Average rating 3.50  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,965 ratings  ·  184 reviews


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Mir
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
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.
Andrea
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.
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. Basicall
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Julie
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 andThis 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
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Eric
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
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Brenda Lower
Dec 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: teen, fantasy
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.
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.
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."
Cecelia
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 peacefu
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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
...more
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 re
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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
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Lady
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 th
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Maria
Oct 23, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: series, teen, fantasy, digital, own
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
Michael
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...
Tracy
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.
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.
Arlian
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.
Kristyn
Although I enjoyed this book when I was younger, I did not find myself so engaged as an adult.
Angela
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
...more
Anoush
Feb 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: series, ebook, fantasy, magic
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 editi
...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
Aunt Edie
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
MargaretDH
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 amon
...more
Stephen
Nov 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
Crystal
Feb 02, 2016 rated it liked it
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
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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

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)
“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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