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The Shadow of What Was Lost

(The Licanius Trilogy #1)

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  32,816 ratings  ·  2,901 reviews
It has been twenty years since the end of the war. The dictatorial Augurs—once thought of almost as gods—were overthrown and wiped out during the conflict, their much-feared powers mysteriously failing them. Those who had ruled under them, men and women with a lesser ability known as the Gift, avoided the Augurs' fate only by submitting themselves to the rebellion's Four T ...more
Paperback, 602 pages
Published August 4th 2014 by Aslaradis Publishing (first published August 3rd 2014)
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Popular Answered Questions
Mark Swenson The Tattoo is not a "tattoo" in an ink and needle is magical and is a result of a magical treaty.

They are identification, but they are also…more
The Tattoo is not a "tattoo" in an ink and needle is magical and is a result of a magical treaty.

They are identification, but they are also part of a binding spell that limits the powers of the gifted.(less)
Mark Swenson Technically, no...

Many of the themes are similar, though, and the characters start the story as teenagers...

As with most fantasy, it can be hard to te…more
Technically, no...

Many of the themes are similar, though, and the characters start the story as teenagers...

As with most fantasy, it can be hard to tell the two apart, particularly if the YA fantasy is written well.

This series should be acceptable to both the Adult and Young Adult audiences. It does involve some higher-level philosophical concepts, but through the first book these are only briefly mentioned...

Honestly, even adult American readers have little comprehension of concepts like predestination, so I doubt future novels in the series will delve too deeply into that or other concepts.(less)

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Feb 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Petrik by: TS Chan
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4.5/5 stars

Islington took the best part—and cut all the unnecessary bloating—of Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan, maintained the inspirations he got from Sanderson’s Mistborn, and Islington added his own twists and originality into this highly ambitious debut.

Three years. The Shadow of What Was Lost was recommended to me by my co-blogger, TS, for the first time in January 2017, and I have never gotten around to it unti
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
That was pretty awesome!

I loved so many characters in this book! I can't even begin! I guess Davian, Asha and Wirr are at the top of my list but there are several others.

This is a book about kids coming of age and having to take a trial to see if their Essence (magic) is good enough. If not then they turn you into something else.

Dav is worried because he hasn't found his gift yet and he's afraid. Then all hell breaks loose and people are killed, tricked, lied to, going on journey's, teaming u
James Tivendale
Jan 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, freecopy
I received a review copy of The Shadow of What Was Lost in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank James Islington and Orbit Books.

To begin with, I really thought this was going to be a "run of the mill" chosen one in a magic school sort of fantasy adventure. Thankfully only about 5-10% takes place at said establishment and the rest embraced a pretty awesome and beautifully depicted fantasy world. It still gives off the "chosen one" vibe throughout but that trope doesn't bother me
Aug 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
The Shadow of What Was Lost was an excellent fantasy début and a great start to an exciting new fantasy trilogy. Reading this actually felt a lot like reading a Sanderson book with a little bit of Wheel of Time and X-Men thrown in for good measure. That might sound a little unoriginal but Islington really made it work and delivered an engaging and exciting epic fantasy story!

The world building and the magic were both strong. There was two different types of magic. Regular Gifted and Augurs. The
Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller
2020 Reread update: [5/5 stars!] Responsible for one of my favorite reading experiences in 2017, I originally reviewed the first two books for a newspaper. I addressed the series as a whole and didn’t have the word count to really delve into specifics of each book. I also averaged my ratings of the two into a 4.5. Not a bad rating, but it didn’t accurately reflect my experience with each book. After finishing my reread in preparation to finish the series, now seems like a great time to update my ...more
Oct 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020, fantasy
I knew I'm going to like The Shadow of What Was Lost but what I didn't expect is loving it so much. If you're a fantasy fan, this book is a must.

I loved the characters. All of them. This book is told from 4 povs and all of povs and their chapters were needed. Frankly, this genre sometimes gets carried away with multiple povs and we see authors adding unnecessary chapters to one of the main characters. This isn’t the case here.
My favorite characters were Caedan (you know how sometimes you find so
Sep 18, 2014 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Nobody
Shelves: high-fantasy
I will dare to be the person who does not give this 4-5 starts and I honestly have no idea how this even comes close to that.

It started when people began comparing this book to authors such as Brandon Sanderson, Brent Weeks, and Robert Jordan so that quickly grabbed my attention. Unfortunately, it does not even begin to come close to the standard those authors have set.

I will admit that the book started off quite strong and had my hopes up, but I quickly noticed a problem particularly with the w
TS Chan
Feb 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-read
Upgrading to 4.5 stars (rounded up) on reread

The Shadow of What Was Lost was easily one of the most impressive debuts in recent years; complex yet well-plotted with incredible worldbuilding and great characters - it marked the beginning of a very promising epic fantasy trilogy.

I first read The Shadow of What Was Lost over 4 years ago when it was still self-published. It came to my attention for two reasons - Michael Kramer narrated the audiobook and more importantly, Brandon Sanderson recommen
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“You can put your trust in something that’s obvious, that’s measurable or predictable – but that’s not faith.”

I have been seeing this book for years now and the cover and synopsis always intrigued me. With the recent release of the third book, I knew I had to start this series. My experience reading this had its ups and downs but at the end of the day, I think it ended up being a satisfying read.

The beginning of the book reminded me of the b
Eric Allen
Feb 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book was recommended to me by Brandon Sanderson at the Firefight release party about a month or so ago while the two of us were mutually lamenting the fact that the Wheel of Time is now over, and, with Robert Jordan regrettably no longer amongst us, no hope of any more stories that take place within the same world. And so I went to Audible and found an audio version was up for preorder, and it just came out earlier this week. Read by Michael Kramer no less. That man can make even the most b ...more
Robin (Bridge Four)
Sale Alert: Amazon deal 20Jul21 $1.99

Buddy Read 6Jan2020 over at

“‘Every man who holds a sword in his hand, holds murder in his heart.’”

I love a good epic fantasy and The Shadow of What Was Lost is definitely that. When I saw in a review that James Islington’s major influences were Robert Jordan and my all-time favorite author Brandon Sanderson, I was ready to put this series on my short list and find a few friends to drag along with me on this journey.


Like most Epic fantasy it
Stefan Bach
First comment I have heard about Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series, specifically about its first book The Eye of the World was – Lord of the Rings rip-off.
Considering that, by that time, I haven’t read books nor seen theatrical version of them, that was far from the answer I was looking for.
In the meantime I have rectified my heretic ignorance, read and watched LotR and when finally time came for me to read Robert Jordan’s TWoT (which was last year) I dreaded that the series
Mayim de Vries
Apr 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
“We who knew you mourn what was lost. Only a shadow remains.”

[adjective], [adjective], [adjective].* This [superlative] balanced tale is like a fantasy ‘best of’ hit list. A mashup of evergreen tropes combined with [adjective] characterisation and [adjective] worldbuilding. And everything in a whirlwind of action that does not even pause for breath.

There is no warmup. Intense beginning when everything that can go wrong goes spectacularly disastrous and nothing is as it seems just swept me off m
Deborah Obida
Mar 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult, fantasy
“‘Every man who holds a sword in his hand, holds murder in his heart.’”

There is nothing we readers love more than when a book exceeds our expectations, and this book did just that. If I had known it was this good I would have read it long ago, to think that this book has been on my tbr since 2017 is sad.

This book is my kind of fantasy. It has magic, battles, great characters and amazing history. Its suspense filled, the pace is perfect, its neither slow nor too fast. The fight scenes were we
Jun 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A new Fantasy series that is being compared to the venerated, though highly divisive, Wheel Of Time series? What what! Sign me up please! I actually hadn't even heard about The Shadow Of What Was Lost until I saw it popping up on various feeds and getting pretty decent reviews here on Goodreads, and since my local book club was due for a Fantasy read, I made sure that this was the one we selected. We normally have a 2 week read cycle, but because this was over 700 pages, we decided to give ourse ...more
Mar 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
"You can put your trust in something that's obvious, that's measurable or predictable - but that's not faith. Nor is believing in something that gives you no pause for doubt, no reason or desire to question. Faith is something more than that. By definition, it cannot have proof as its foundation."

A stunning debut filled with a rich history, fantastic characters, and masterful storytelling. The beginning is a bit slow, but Islington does a great job of building the story throughout th
Nov 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have even more questions now than when I started!!!!
This was brilliant even tho I have some minor problems with almost everything, all in all, it was very satisfying to finally pick a fantasy that just lives up to my expectations.
Ooops... My hands and eyes slipped and I started this, then I stumbled and a fell on my bed with a cozy blanket around me.
When will I stop being so clumsy, :) NEVER
Jan 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is definitely a must-have for all you epic fantasy fans. The build-up at the beginning is good and interesting and puts a lot of the focus on the intrigue and the social injustice, but once the action really begins, it's all beautiful sailing.

So much happens and I can honestly say I love every step of it. We go from the humble beginnings to a truly epic arena in time, power, and action, and we dip our toes in all the great twists of time magic, memory magic, outright masterful draining of t
Mike's Book Reviews
Full Video Review Here:

It's rare when a first-time author comes out and totally kills it on his first novel...that is 700+ pages. But James Islington has done just that. In The Shadow of What Was Lost, Islington has created a world with a background and history as intriguing as anything I've come across in modern fantasy. Full of darkness and mystery, it has you wanting to know more and more about this world the more you learn of its history.

Following the experiences
Mogsy (MMOGC)
3.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

Whenever I hear about an indie fantasy that makes the jump to a traditional publishing house, it always piques my curiosity and of course The Shadow of What Was Lost was no exception. Fast forward to the moment I finished reading the book, and I all I have to say is: I am impressed. This is James Islington’s first novel, and though that sometimes shows in the raw quality the writing, overall it is a solid series opener a
Aug 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
4.5 Stars. Almost five stars if it weren't for some minor bits that I found repetitive.

I loved this book. I had a ball reading it. I devoured it in a few days. I did not want to put it down.

It starts out as a straightforward, classic fantasy adventure. Youth finds out he has the ability to wield a forbidden power and ancient evil stirs at the edge of the map. However, it quickly evolves into a complex tale with countless twists and turns and a bunch of lovable characters.

My main issues with the
Feb 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An old caste of men with powers similar to those detained by gods but yet destroyed by the oppressed.
A lesser caste of men with powers oppressed by their old underling , braided purchased and even killed sometimes.
A young boy kind and naive who wants nothing more in the world than to stay away from troubles but unexpectedly developed the long forgotten and mostly forbidden power.
So it begins the journey of the licanius trilogy, the synopsis promised a story with nothing special for a fantasy bo
Feb 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Celeste by: TS Chan
Shelves: fantasy
The Shadow of What Was Lost is one of those books that has been sitting on my shelf for years. Islington is an author highly recommended not only to Sanderson fans but by Sanderson himself, so I picked it up on Kindle when it was still self-published and ended up purchasing physical copies of the entire Licanius trilogy before ever reading the first page. Not the smartest way to buy your books, I grant you, but it worked out this time! The Shadow of What Was Lost is a throwback to classic fantas ...more
Scott  Hitchcock
If you're a WOT of LOTR fan who likes quests, dark lords and magical powers drawn from a source this is a series for you. I really liked the dubious nature of many of the main characters who were well developed and likeable with their faults.

Audio book with Michael Kramer.......enough said.

Looking forward to the release of book 2.
Krista Hansen
Sep 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Wow, this was great! This was a thoroughly engaging epic fantasy much like Sanderson’s books and I loved every minute of it! Islington creates a richly detailed magical world filled with myths, legends, religion, and history. The magic system feels unique, is clearly defined, and works well within the world. The characters are all interesting and well-developed. The plot is nicely paced, balancing action, drama and exposition. It starts out like a traditional fantasy quest, but quickly evolves i ...more
Mar 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was great. I got hooked by Chapter 3. No slow start in this story. There was never a dull moment either. If you are a big fan of Lord of the Rings and the Wheel of Time you will notice some similarities with those stories in The Shadow of What Was Lost. You know the usual something evil going after some young adults and they have to leave town. While on the road going on a great adventure, their being pursued by evil beings. Finding friends to ally with on the road and protecting each ...more
Jim Robinson
Feb 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Jim by: Petrik
Shelves: favorites
5 big shiny gold stars Oh man I loved this book! It sucked me in from about page 50 and I could not put it down for the remainder of the ride. Likable characters, hidden powers from memories long lost, awesome world building and immense magic all in one book.

Its well written also and you can just inhale the words off the page which if I am being honest is the way I love to read. I love to feel like I am not grinding through a complex tale but living it with the characters as they experience it.
Nick Borrelli
Sep 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Full review forthcoming
Hasham Rasool
This book series is recommended for anyone who is:
Fan of Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson.
Fan of 'The Wheel of Time'.
Looking for a coming of age fantasy tale with likeable characters and strong worldbuilding.

I feel like I am reading Brandon Sanderson's book. It is a lot like Sanderson's books. It is just a bit like 'The Wheel of Time' because of the quest.

This book is awesome! It is a good start for Islington. This is the first book that James Islington has written.

If anyone wants to read thi
Mar 14, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I picked up this book because I heard so many good things about it. I read rave reviews and only saw a few bad ones. So, without reading any of the bad reviews thinking some people hate just to hate, I began reading it. Ermegerd! So bad! I went back and read some of the bad reviews I overlooked and I also hate this book for the same reasons they do. For once the bad reviews were right!

So, I was always taught to give bad news in a big sandwich. Give good news first, then the huge chunk of bad, an
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James Islington was born and raised in southern Victoria, Australia. His influences growing up were the stories of Raymond E. Feist and Robert Jordan, but it wasn't until later, when he read Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn series - followed soon after by Patrick Rothfuss' Name of the Wind - that he was finally inspired to sit down and write something of his own. He now lives with his wife and daughte ...more

Other books in the series

The Licanius Trilogy (3 books)
  • An Echo of Things to Come (The Licanius Trilogy, #2)
  • The Light of All That Falls (The Licanius Trilogy, #3)

Articles featuring this book

Fall is in the air, which means it's time to cozy up with some of the biggest books your fellow readers can't wait to get...
146 likes · 92 comments
“All that I wanted, I received
All that I dreamed, I achieved
All that I feared, I conquered
All that I hated, I destroyed
All that I loved, I saved
And so, I lay down my head weary with despair, for;
All that I needed, I lost”
“You can put your trust in something that’s obvious, that’s measurable or predictable - but that's not faith. Nor is believing in something that gives you no pause for doubt, no reason or desire to question. Faith is something more than that. By definition, it cannot have proof as its foundation.” 38 likes
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