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Shadow (Scavenger #1)

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  1,033 Ratings  ·  54 Reviews
A man wakes in the wilderness, amid scattered corpses and inquisitive crows. He has no memory of who he is or how he came to be there. The only clues to his former existence lie in his apparent skill with a sword and the fragmented dreams that permeate his sleep.

Alone in a hostile world he moves from village to village, masquerading as a god to obtain food and shelter. But
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Trade Paperback, First Edition, 572 pages
Published June 7th 2001 by Orbit
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Jason
Apr 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2012
5 Stars

I feel as a lover of adult oriented, dark, intelligently written fantasy, that I am obligated to point out why this flawed book deserves full marks and it deserves a wider audience. This is a complicated and at times confusing story that centers on a man with no name. Our main protagonist wakes up in a river filled with dead soldiers. He is obviously suffering from a head wound as he cannot remember who he is, why he is there, and where he should be going. The adventure begins as our hero
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Karissa
Dec 30, 2010 rated it liked it
I ordered this book based on the other reviews I was seeing on Amazon. I have to admit the book is a very interesting concept and really keeps you guessing. Neat concept, very thought provoking. Definitely not what I would call a "candy" book (all good action, entertaining, but you never think twice about it after reading it).

Unfortunately I feel that it could have had more depth and more action. As you follow the character through the book you end up looking at everything very dispassionately.
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Joey Cruz
Sep 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-fantasy
I picked this book up because the premise sounded like a fantasy version of the Bourne Identity, and that appealed to me. What I got, though, was a subtle, meticulous, surprisingly funny, and infuriatingly evasive mystery with a main character who may be a great hero, or the worst villain on earth, or maybe the god of destruction.

As reads go, it's not the most action packed, nor is it traditionally plotted (it knows it's the first book in a trilogy, so while you get some answers in the end, the
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Marion Hill
Apr 19, 2017 rated it it was ok
DNF. Reached page 322 out of 572. This novel has an intriguing premise and readable prose. But, the mysterious nature of the main character did not connect with me and I went as far as I could. Interesting thoughts on religion and philosophy included in the narrative though.
D.D. Price
This novel has one of the most awesome beginnings I’ve yet seen. It starts off with the narrator waking up in a battlefield surrounded by dead bodies and he can’t remember who he is or how he got there. It is a highly symbolic scene in which his mind appears to be split into two halves, the two halves arguing with each other. Ever sense I first sampled this book I’d been wanting to read this series based on that opening alone so I’m very glad that I’ve finally gotten around to reading it. It rea ...more
Joseph
Jul 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sooo . . . How's your tolerance for frustration? If not very high, then you might want to skip this one, although you'll be missing some good stuff. Our hero awakens in a mudpuddle in the middle of a battlefield; he has no idea who he is, although he soon discovers that he does have certain talents, both martial and otherwise. He begins by joining a woman driving a cart (she goes around to villages impersonating a priestess and needs someone to impersonate a god), although that doesn't last long ...more
Anna Maria
The Scavenger Trilogy is basically a mystery story in a fantasy setting, with a healthy dose of philosophy and lots of technical details about everything from swordfighting to blacksmithing. That sounds like an odd mix, but it works amazingly well. Only be prepared that you won't find many of the usual fantasy trademarks in these books - there is no magic or mystical creatures, and it turns the average fantasy heroes and plots upside-down.
The world is difficult to live in, the characters have t
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Jenne
Feb 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, favorites
If you are one of those people who is always bugging the creators of Lost to "please, please give us some answers!" then THIS BOOK IS NOT FOR YOU. Go away.
If you are like me, and would prefer there just to be questions on top of mysteries on top of WTFs, then this book IS for you. Welcome! Prepare to be totally confused.
Don't read any other reviews, don't read the back of the book, just start reading it and get ready to have your brains tied in a knot.
David
Jan 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Although I was a little annoyed at the lengths to which the author goes to keep us from knowing the real identity of the main character (until the very end... though I suspect what is revealed is only part of the answer), I found this a compelling study in identity, politics, and religion. I really hope the protagonist (in addition to what we've learned) turns out to be the god of destruction that he suspects he might be... moving on to book #2.
Peter
Feb 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
This one doesn't appeal to me. I'm stopping after 100 plus pages.
Jewel
Mar 23, 2007 rated it really liked it
Mildly confusing, though it's amusing. The main char has no idea who he is, which makes it fun cause hes trying to figure out who the hell he is along with you. Its even more entertaining cause everyone he meets who seems to know him either ends up trying to kill him, or he kills. I'd imagine this is quite frustrating.
Liviu
Apr 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing

Just another great book from KJ Parker; barely waiting to continue with the next one which I stared first but stopped to wait for this one once I got hooked.
Duncan
Jul 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Entertainingly complicated story about identity and memory that requires extensive flipping back and forth to put the pieces together--and there are lots of loose ends even when it's done; this is the first of a trilogy, and much remains to be resolved. The central gimmick is that the protagonist doesn't remember who he is, but many of the people he meets recognize him and have very strong reactions to him. Grim, mostly--the protagonist finds himself in the middle of a civil war of sorts--but sh ...more
Ina
Jul 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
The Great Dan Marino
(This is a somewhat edited version of an e-mail I sent a few friends after first reading it. --v)

This epic fantasy starts with a man waking up in the aftermath of a skirmish, looking around and seeing 25 or so dead soldiers with a couple of different uniforms, and realizing he's lost his memory. He has no idea who he is, but we all soon find out he has the skills of a master swordsman. He has no idea why though or recollection of where the skills came from. From there, things get complicated.

I s
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Daniel
Feb 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Interesting concept, well written but honestly I found bits of it a bit slow and like all K.J. Parker's books I've read it starts out really well, but ends up disappointing me in the end.

That said, other people will probably enjoy it more that I did, so it's worth giving it a try.
Natasha
Feb 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: series, fantasy
Parker has done it yet again. I have to say, I'm glad that I read the Engineering Trilogy first, so I knew what to expect from the author. Honestly, I've never had to sit through so much nail biting suspense in all my life, and that's saying something. Even with the Engineering Trilogy, you never really understand what is happening throughout the books until the last chapter of the very last book. This series seems to be doing it to me again, and although the suspense is infuriating, you can't h ...more
Carina
May 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shadow, the first in the Scavenger Trilogy, starts off in an ominous and disconcerting manner. A man wakes up in the midst of a battlefield, scattered with dead bodies, none of whom he recognise.He observes two sides of the battle, but he sees that he does not seem to belong to either side. Also, he has lost his memory. The first chapter confuses both the reader and the protagonist. He dreams of speaking to his reflection, he has dreams of being characters in the kingdom he can not remember havi ...more
Lel
This book starts off with a man waking up surrounded by dead bodies and no idea on how they became deceased and who he is. The book follows this character that takes the name Poldarn after a god that heralds the end of the world. Ultimately he is looking for a nice simple easy life, but seems to be well known to most people and very efficient at killing and causing everyone around him to die.

I found this book quite tedious and overly complicated. There are a lot of very quick scene switches bet
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Matt
Jun 07, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an interesting read. I've read the Engineer trilogy, and the writing style was very similar; very unconventional, and very much different from the vast majority of authors writing in the genre. Parker is a very technical writer. I keep getting the sense that I'm reading passages from an instruction manual. Everything is always very detailed and constructed, almost stiff. My main problem with this book was probably what made it so original. I couldn't quite get a handle as to what the he ...more
Nev Percy
Aug 02, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent. It's 'alternate medieval'; it will be familiar to fantasy readers but with the supernatural element as far behind the scenes, as intangible and as ill-understood by anyone as it is in a historical novel.
It's a little too strongly reminiscent of the Fencer trilogy -- superlative swordsman protagonist(s), lawyer-by-the-sword substituted for priest-by-the-sword, innovative and intriguing use of weird stuff coming through dreams. And KJP's still the same author writing the stuff he like
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Peter
implausible, inconsistent and sluggish.: What is the fuss over this at best mediocre book?
First we have a God ina cart (yes, a GOD, in a CART) then we have a monastery of invincible fighting monks who run a "James Bond" type of spy and assassin network, followed by an even more invincible group calling themselves "Raiders", who use funny swords and can apparently outrun a horse without working up a sweat.
The hero of the piece never actually manages to get anyone to tell him who he is before t
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Sarah
Nov 06, 2008 rated it liked it
I LOVE KJ Parker - but he/she makes me absolutely crazy.

I get so frustrated by the writing style and the deliberate obtuseness - do you really need a whole trilogy of characters refusing to answer questions? There really is such a thing as too clever for one's own good.

Not giving your main character a name really gives your readers headaches trying to keep all the pronouns straight. And when a character has a different name every chapter? Not going to happen.

I will read the rest of this trilogy
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Todd
Aug 11, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I really want to give this five stars. Generally the writing is pretty good. The premise amnesia suffering anti-hero is pretty great. Some of the culture and world building left me a little bored with repetition.

But, I just can't get over the fact I finished the book and felt incomplete. There just wasn't enough explained, no central conflict was solved. I spent so much time invested in getting to know a character, who doesn't really develop. I'm tempted to read the rest of the series, solely fo
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Kellee
Jan 25, 2011 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Shannon
Jun 29, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Confusing and frustrating. Half of the time I didn't know what was happening or who it was happening to. Characters step in and out so quickly and so many different ideas are presented that I had no idea what the truth was, which in a way, is very good writing. However, I thought it took too long for the story to go anywhere. The way metaphor was used was strange too. I wasn't sure what was actually happening and what was just put in to be ironic or metaphorical. Probably won't finish the series ...more
Brian Maicke
Feb 09, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Call it 3.5 stars. I've been trying to get this book for awhile so perhaps my anticipation clouds the review somewhat. Shadow follows the story of a man who, through traumatic injury, loses his memory and wanders the world trying to get his memories back. The frustrating thing is that when he finds people who can tell him who he is, he invariably ends up killing them.

The story is pure Parker in that it there is no great evil, just people looking out for themselves and, in most cases, trying to d
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Ross Norris
Mar 01, 2014 rated it it was ok
I read so many excellent reviews for this book that I couldn't not read it. It started off great with clever writing and an intriguing mystery but those both quickly tapered off, leaving a book that I had to force myself to finish. It is by no means a bad book as others have derived far more pleasure from it than me, Its just not really my cup of tea.

As an impulse buyer I bought the trilogy in one go so at some point I will probably finish the story. Maybe I will be surprised and fall in love bu
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lynne naranek
Jun 28, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2006
A very. slow. plodding. tale. about a man who has lost his memory. The author lets us believe he could be a missing general, or a god out of legend, or just about anyone in between. Interesting, but SO slow that I only finished this book on the 2nd try (1st was perhaps 4 years ago - stopped about third of the way through). The ending was a bit of a let down. If I do choose to continue this tale, it's going to be with the assistance of the local library!
Elvet
Feb 07, 2010 rated it liked it
I've only read one book (The Company) by this author, and I really liked her style of writing. So, I took the plunge and bought her earlier Scavenger trilogy. I started Shadow and haven't been disappointed.
Update. This was a most interesting read. Through most of the book, you are presented with 3 possible identities for the amnesiac protagonist. Parts of the prose are repeated (pretty much word for word), but from a different POV. It could have been very confusing, but Parker pulls it off.
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K.J. Parker is a pseudonym for Tom Holt. The author's true name was revealed on 21 April 2015.

According to the biographical notes in some of Parker's books, Parker has previously worked in law, journalism, and numismatics, and now writes and makes things out of wood and metal. It is also claimed that Parker is married to a solicitor and now lives in southern England. According to an autobiographi
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More about K.J. Parker...

Other Books in the Series

Scavenger (3 books)
  • Pattern (Scavenger, #2)
  • Memory (Scavenger, #3)

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“But how do we know it's really you? I mean, I could put a saucepan on my head and call myself the God of Boiled Dumplings; wouldn't mean I was telling the truth.” 5 likes
“...the exceptionally profound is always, by definition, basic and mundane.” 0 likes
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