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Shattered Dreams

(Light in the Dark #1)

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  111 ratings  ·  69 reviews
Epic Fantasy filled to the brim with Grimdark Reality

If one looks too long into the abyss, the abyss looks back. Drangar Ralgon has been avoiding the abyss's gaze for far too long and now he turns to face it.

For a hundred years the young kingdom of Danastaer has thrived in peace. Now their northern neighbor, mighty Chanastardh, has begun a cunning invasion.

Thrust int
Kindle Edition, 518 pages
Published March 16th 2018 by Crossroad Press (first published June 19th 2016)
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Average rating 4.28  · 
Rating details
 ·  111 ratings  ·  69 reviews

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Jen/The Tolkien Gal/ジェニファー
Jan 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020, 2019
Reading this a second time because Ulff deserves a better review - and my old phone went bust and I have none of my review notes.

I've been in a very dark place in the last few months. So much feels like it's been falling apart - I struggle to write reviews, which was always my way of expressing myself.

Shattered Dreams was there for me when I was close to having a panic attack or giving up on something difficult. Every character was so beautifully crafted that their humanity seeped from the page
Feb 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, reviews
I received a review copy from the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Ulff!

Shattered Dreams is a dark high-fantasy tale that is ripe with unique characters and a well thought out world that has mercenaries, elves, wizardesses and a talking squirrel. So if you’re a fan of medium-sized rodents that could talk the hind legs off a donkey then stop reading this review and buy this book!

‘No death is as slow as life.’

Ulff Lehmann catapults the reader into a dark Germanic fantasy land t
Nick Borrelli
Oct 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
The opening paragraph of Ulff Lehmann's SHATTERED DREAMS contains this powerful sentence: "Complacency is the greatest foe of peace". Pretty heavy stuff that not only is quite relevant to our real world of today, but also serves as the basis for the main storyline of this dark epic fantasy tale of a world attempting to recover from a century's old war where wizards and elves once fought to the death. The result of this war was a deeply scarred land rife with distrust for the magic that was unlea ...more
Petros Triantafyllou
You know how you always see "In the style of GRRM" on the back cover of books or in blog reviews? Shattered Dreams by Ulff Lehmann is the only book I've read that actually deserves the comparison.

For two years the mercenary Drangar Ralgon has kept his back to his dark past. Afraid to live, afraid to die, Drangar tried to ignore the abyss that lies behind him. Now, faced with a war he wants nothing to do with, he finally turns around and gazes back.

Complacency is the greatest foe of peace. Onc
Damien Black
Nov 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book often gets compared to George RR Martin but I'm going to disagree: I think Shattered Dreams has a lot more subtlety going for it, and while it may be less of a page-turner than Game of Thrones, I believe it is a more literary take on what can all too often be a trashy genre.

Lehmann's protagonist, Drangar Ralgon, is a man haunted by his past. A former mercenary who killed his wife in a mysterious blackout, Drangar lives as a hermit, talks to himself, broods, and takes to sharpening his
Scott  Hitchcock
Review for Grimdark Magazine I received a free copy of the book for an honest review.

Overall: 3.0*

Grimdark: 2/5 – While there’s an allotment of despicable characters I think this was more epic than grimdark. To be GD, for me, you can’t just tell me somebody is experiencing grief. You have to take me inside their head and make me feel that grief. You can't describe a battle scene or torture. I want to know how that feels to the victim. "in his moment of grief un
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This gets 5-stars for me.

This is a very well written and intelligent dark fantasy. It is a little hard to keep focus at times because of different things going on with different characters but by the end, I had managed to tie things together, (I think) lol.

This is a dark tale but it is very different from the grimdark that I have read recently. In my opinion, it is a more traditional way of portraying good versus evil, light versus darkness than the way that other authors in the genre might app
Jan 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: briaepicgiveaway
5 shattered stars
for the beginning of a rich tale that has already gained a place among my Top 5 of All-time-favorite sweeping fantasy series, alongside Malazan by Steven Erikson; Wars of Light and Shadow by Janny Wurts, The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan and A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin

If you are a fan of any of those, there's a high chance you're going to love Shattered Dreams by Ulff Lehmann too.

fan art by The Magic Book Corner

I've read this in a buddy read with my good frien
Ulff Lehmann
Nov 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Obviously I think Shattered Dreams is a great book. I wrote the thing, would be bloody stupid of me to say the book sucks, right?

I wrote a novel I would like to read, and I did. Whether what I like to read is to your liking is up to you. Though I read Shattered Dreams multiple times, and my totally biased opinion is: this book is awesome!
M.L. Spencer
Oct 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The first chapter of any novel makes promises to the reader. The first chapter of Shattered Dreams by Ulff Lehmann promises that this will be a book where nothing is held sacred, that anything and anyone is fair game to ravage and defile. I’m not sure those promises held true throughout the whole of the book, but I did enjoy Shattered Dreams enormously – much better than I would have if the novel had ended as hopelessly as I’d feared it would.

I was happily surprised to find this a well-rendered
Jan 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was part of Fantasy Factions grouping and has since been eliminated - their review here:



Shattered Dreams is an extremely ambitious debut novel with many different POV's and plot lines. It's hard to summarize this kind of book because the plotlines don't intersect until later on and to talk about some of that would be spoilery.

Drangar, one of the main characters, had been posing as a lone shepherd for a number
Kimberley Johnson
While “Shattered Dreams” is not my usual genre, I must admit I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The characters were rich and engaging and the story was fantastical. The first chapter pulls you in. I liked how Lehmann blended the cast of characters - some other worldly and some human. I also appreciated how the his fantasy world would often mirror reality.

If you like reading good books, you will enjoy this one.
C.T. Phipps
May 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, grimdark
I'm a big fan of Mark Lawrence's Self Published Fantasy Blog Off and while I don't participate in it, I always use it as an option to find new and exciting books to review. One of these books is Shattered Dreams by Ulff Lehmann, an author I will freely admit to have talked to before I read his work back when we were both posters on the Forgotten Realms Candlekeep forums. So, take this review with a grain of salt but also note I've never been one to shy away from telling the truth about friends o ...more
Dec 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shattered Dreams covers the build up and invasion of a major battle, and definitely has the sense there is more to come. It's the first book of an epic war series and is truly just the beginning.

Drangar Ralgon has been living in misery, ignoring his past. He finally decides to return home to face the violence he took part in two years prior. His journey is full of challenges and enemies. His story is the one on the most personal level, as we see his remorse and struggle to seek the truth of who
catherine ♡
Actual Rating: 3.75

This was definitely high fantasy - which usually does get me a while to get into.
I've never really been able to completely embrace this genre, and I think this may have contributed to the disconnect that I felt with the setting and the characters.
After a while, I did start to get the feel for it, but I honestly don't think I connected to this story as much as I have with other ones.

I do think that the writing was solid, and there were some scenes in the story that I really lik
Oct 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Find this review at Forever Lost in Literature!

Shattered Dreams is an epic, unrelenting novel that is filled to the brim with interesting characters, a complex plot, and incredibly drawn world-building. I was drawn in from the very first chapter, and the first chapter is also what showed me that Lehmann would hold nothing back from his storytelling and that cruelty and a grim reality was going to be the centerpiece of this book. There is so much going on in this book that it'd be hard for me to
Stanislas Sodonon
I received a copy of this book from the author, in exchange for a no-punch-held review. Considering the circumstances, Ulff, you have my respect!

It took me longer than usual to finish this book, because Real Life(tm) got in the way. But now I'm finally done. My disclaimer: This is MY opinion; please make your own.
Here we go!

I've been struggling with how to structure this review because I have quite a lot to say...

My personal score for this book: 3.5 stars. Not 4 because I had too many "grrr" mo
Queen Terrible Timy
I received a copy from the author in exchange of a honest review.

The full review with personal notes can be read here:

Shattered Dreams is the debut novel by Ulff Lehmann and the first of a 5 book series. Thus it has flaws and first book issues, which keeps me from giving a 5 star rating. Don't let that hold you back and give Shattered Dreams a chance, because it deserves it.

We are about a hundred years after the Heir War and the Demon War. The Phoenix Wiz
Actual rating: 3.5 stars

I read Shattered Dreams as part of my self-imposed SPFBO challenge. This book has been on my radar for a while - I remember stumbling upon it during one of my potential next book searches. The synopsis sounded interesting to me, and some reviewers I appreciate were enthusiastic about the book.

After finishing Shattered Dreams I’m still not sure what’s the best way to describe the story. It’s ambitious. It’s epic. It’s complicated and nuanced at times.

The author juggles be
Dec 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing

First, dear reader, you need to know that Ulff Lehmann is a friend of mine. Also, I’ve been meaning to get this review written and published for basically an eternity. I apologize for taking so long, but the moral of this particular story is that I really suck at multitasking.

Dark fantasy is my jam. I read it. I write it. I edit it. I love it. I really do. There is something about a dark world (or “crapsack” as Rob Hayes calls it, which I think might be on
Nov 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Somehow my review has be deleted, not sure what has happened.

This very well written fantasy grimdark, what’s puts it above other grimdark novels is the fact that ulff has given us a decent plot line full of twists and turns to us guessing throughout the book.

I have started book 2 and the plots continue.

Highly recommended series to all of my goodreads friends.
Tony Duxbury
Jul 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
War suddenly engulfs the land. An ancient evil is about to be released. Gods and wizards try to intervene. Nobody knows who or what is behind it.Different people are suddenly involved. Some by choice, some by accident. Some have hidden agendas, others are just swept along by events.A recipe for a classic battle between good and evil. A very enjoyable read with well written characters that you can engage with. My only dissatisfaction is that it isn't a stand alone story. To find out what happens ...more
A.M. Justice
Jul 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

Shattered Dreams is full of engaging characters and rich worldbuilding with a deep and intriguing history. The author employs a large cast of characters to show many facets of a story centered on two cities: Honas Graigh and Dunthiochagh. In the abandoned ruins of Honas Graigh lies a book of dark magic that the elves accidentally left behind during a hasty retreat from the world of men. Nefarious forces are at work, using the book to raise an army of ghosts and demons. Meanwhile, the pe
Oct 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Three words: Read. This. Book.

That’s not much of a review though, is it? OK then…

I loved this story. It has it all. A broken potential hero who enters as a wrecked (and somewhat caustic) nobody. A patchwork medievalist world, littered with the relics of a disappeared elven race. Rumours of dwarven craftmasters still dispensing the occasional boon of matchless weapons to humans who believe the world now belongs to them, and whose kingdoms scrabble and intrigue over control of what remains.

S. D. Howarth
Sep 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bookwyrm Speaks
Aug 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those book I had on my TBR pile for a while, but just had trouble getting to it. Finally, I decided to read it, and life kept intruding, and it took way to long to finish. Not because it was bad or uninteresting, because that's not the case, just life kept interfering. Having finished it, I can say that this grimdark gem was definitely worth the time put into reading it.

The story starts with two children who chase their dog who runs off into the Woods of Gathran, the old home of t
Luke Hindmarsh
Aug 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I'm not going to compare this to other fantasy books, as it's strong enough to stand on its own. The attention to detail, whether politics, military tactics, arms and armour... etc. is outstanding. It doesn't get in the way but the worldbuilding has a solidity lacking in many fantasy novels. It feels at times as if the author has an entire history of his world that he can rest against so the setting comes alive without being forced. It's clearly not for the faint hearted and pulls no punches. (T ...more
Mar 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Michael Phillip
Aug 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I find some authors are good at building a world

The author draws us in through the accounts of a scholar reminiscent of Gene Wolfe's Severian telling us the tale
of how his time in the world came to be what it is. He engrosses
us in a vivid history of wizardry from his own perspective. His witticisms and analysis of his world at times left this reader reflecting on our own world and the nature of mankind.
As we move into the story proper, we are quickly introduced to very human, fully realized char
Miriam Michalak
May 02, 2019 rated it liked it
A solid 3.5 stars

I usually enjoy books with multiple POV's, but the time spent with each character at the first 3rd of the book wasn't long enough for me to get hooked on their arc. This meant it took me a wee while to get into and I fond myself skimming some chapters to get back the arc of a character I had finally started rooting for.

But once I'd settled with most characters my reading pace picked up and I enjoyed the tale. Looking forward to finding out how it concludes.
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Ulff Lehmann has spent quite a while waiting on his Midlife Crisis, and decided he won't go there. For the past two decades he has been developing the stories he is now publishing. Born and bred in Germany, Ulff chose to write in English when he realized he had spent most of his adult life reading English instead of his mother tongue, and brings with him the oftentimes Grimm outlook of his country ...more

Other books in the series

Light in the Dark (3 books)
  • Shattered Hopes (Light in the Dark #2)
  • Shattered Fears (Light in the Dark #3)

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