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The First of Shadows

(The Riven Realm #1)

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  92 ratings  ·  59 reviews
How do you kill a shadow?

As a raging storm descends on the Blasted Coast, the crippled young rigger, Caleb Rusk, meets a stranger on the road. Little does he know that the encounter will pull him into a conflict that threatens everything he holds dear—and change the course of his life forever.

Meanwhile, in the Capital of Taralius, a string of inexplicable deaths have c
Kindle Edition, 143 pages
Published January 22nd 2019 by Echo Enduring Media
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Average rating 4.20  · 
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 ·  92 ratings  ·  59 reviews

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More self published fantasy :D
Nick Borrelli
May 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
I've had the pleasure of reading some excellent self-published books this year. The amount of quality titles that have been coming out virtually every other week has been absolutely staggering. Lately I have made a conscious decision to consume a lot more independent and self-titled books and review them on the blog. So much so in fact that I'm proud to say that my reading ratio has tipped dramatically in that direction. The fantasy novella THE FIRST OF SHADOWS by Deck Matthews further continues ...more
Lili  Marcus
May 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, 2020-reads
The First of Shadows opens with an intense fighting scene that really hooked me into the story. Sure, I was a bit confused because at first I wasn’t sure where the figure of speech ends and the literal starts. That said, the writing devices the author used all throughout the book are incredible which I, as an aspiring author, both envy and admire. I can’t help it, okay? Anyway, the beginning is one of the most intense and amazing beginnings I’ve ever read.

The story then goes on with three story
Mar 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Short and entertaining read focussed on magic and building up toward an evil that is rising. There is all kinds of magics in this world, it kinda went over my head! My brain is mush and I was reading def not remembering it all haha. It is told throughout the story but I couldn't digest it. I kinda wanted a mindless read but you actually had to keep track here which went a bitttt too fast or like too much here and there with unknown words. I just couldn't keep up. But that is okay! The main plot ...more
Angela Boord
Aug 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, indie
I picked up First of Shadows after listening to an interview with the author on the Under a Pile of Books podcast. I wasn't disappointed.

First of Shadows is a fast-paced, action-filled, sword and sorcery/adventure fantasy in the classic vein. Lots of big magic, a supernaturally evil enemy, mysterious characters, clerics, warriors, and (in not so traditional a vein) airships and a murder mystery. There are a lot of point of view characters for such a short book, but I never felt like I didn't spe
Beth Wangler
Mar 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
After hearing several friends rave about The First of Shadows, I picked it up, and I'm so glad I did. This story drew me into a new world and kept me on the edge of my seat in a way I haven't found in a while. I loved Shem, Caleb, and others, and the shadow was perfectly disturbing in the best way. The worldbuilding is creative and well-established, and there are layers upon layers that I look forward to unraveling when I read the other books in the series. This now holds a place in my top favor ...more
Jan 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is right up the alley for Fantasy readers. There are enough fantasy tropes and enough unique twists on this to make it both familiar and fresh. The emotion was great and I loved the action scenes. If you love fantasy, pick this up!!!
Grace Crandall
Jun 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book was an awesome ride from start to finish! With a rich magical lore and an array of fun characters, The First of Shadows was an intriguing start to the Riven Realm trilogy.
The story begins with a man battling for his life with a creature that can change its shape at will, and does not seem able to die. He goes to seek rest and shelter in the town of Therrin's Crossing, where the young rigger Caleb lives with his mother.
Far away in the capital, Taralius, another struggle is ongoing-- S
E.B. Dawson
Nov 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: indie-authors
Sometimes I feel like fantasy rehashes the same tropes over and over. Deck Matthews' work is fresh and original. I was hooked from the opening scene with the Drifter fighting desperately against the Demon who has been relentlessly hunting him. Caleb was also an instant favorite of mine, with his owl totem and his crippled foot. You just can't help rooting for him.

The world Matthews has created is rich and complex and he isn't shy about plunging us straight in. He keeps you on your toes by movin
Nov 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Dark fantasy isn't always my cup of tea, but this is a superlative example of the genre. The overall tone is rather grim, but there's still plenty of heroism and likable characters to provide balance. The story is gripping, particularly thanks to the terrifying threat the protagonists have to grapple with. This first book stands on its own quite well, but includes a gripping "post-credit scene" that will leave you eager to find out what happens in the next installment. Highly recommended.

Note: I
Laura Hughes
Nov 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
A fun, fast-paced read with great characters and excellent worldbuilding. The book wrapped up a bit abruptly for my liking (it's really more of a novella than a novel), and I had a few gripes about certain characters and tropes, but on the whole I really enjoyed it, and will definitely be checking out the sequel at some point. ...more
Jan 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Let me make this very clear, Deck Matthews is an up and coming author to watch.

A short time ago, I was lucky enough to get my hands on a reader's copy of Matthews' newest release. I had had the pleasure of reading his other works and enjoyed them both, but in The First of Shadows, he takes everything; the stakes, world building, writing, characters...everything up a notch and then some.

The characters are interesting, flawed and far removed from the classic old tropes of the great hero, his creat
(Ellie) ReadtoRamble
I read this book for a blog tour, so thank you to the blog tour organiser and the author for letting me be part of this tour, and thank you for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

This book was a lot shorter than I was expecting, and for a fantasy novel, it was really too short in my opinion. There is a massive amount of information in this book and I feel like I didn't have the time to take everything in and really enjoy it becau
Jason Aycock
Feb 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
As you know I’ve become a big fan and advocate of self-published/indie fantasy. Mark Lawrence’s Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (SPFBO) has done tremendous work highlighting great self-published books the last five years. But there are many, many more great self-published fantasy works out there that haven’t made it into the SPFBO finals and deserve some recognition. Today I have the pleasure of discussing one of those great self-published books.

The First of Shadows is an action packed romp fill
Noor Al-Shanti
Apr 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
The First of Shadows is a thoroughly entertaining fantasy novel set in well-built world. It's the first book in a series and so there's a lot of set-up in terms of the world-building, which promises a really interesting series ahead.

I wasn't into it right away because the POV kept switching from one character to another, but by chapter 5 their stories come together and it all starts to make a lot more sense and the story moves at a page-turner pace from there on out. It's definitely worth hangi
Connor Hart
May 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
How do you kill a shadow?

It's a good question, indeed. One that on its face is enough to peak my interest. So I read on, finding the first chapter of this tale available for free from the author(links below). I found that killing a shadow is not merely the problem itself, but how to escape it. Intrigued? Undoubtedly.

For a bargain price of $2.99 it was a tale worth every penny. I jumped into the world of Varkas with a taste of the shadow and the drifter it trailed and soon found myself in the mid
Zack Argyle
Oct 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
First of Shadows is an action-packed entry point to an interesting world filled with intrigue and danger. Deck Matthews is a top-notch world-builder and a fresh new voice.

When I started, I was both skeptical and excited about reading an epic fantasy that comes in at only 170 pages. I read it in two days, which says something. Would I have loved for it to be longer? Yes. Does it feel a bit like Act 1? Yes. Yet, still, I loved every minute of it. The pages flew by and I wouldn't hesitate to recomm
Rowena Andrews
I came across this one while searching for novellas, and I'm delighted that I did. The First Shadows is an epic disguised as a novella, which is a stunning feat of execution, because so much happens within this book that it could have fallen short of what it was attempting to achieve. There are few places, where a longer book would have allowed for some greater development, especially with regards to the magic system, which was fascinating and could have filled many more pages, and I would have ...more
Jan 22, 2021 rated it really liked it
I found myself completely taken by this fun little fantasy tale. It had the feel of an old-time classic fantasy story but with a twist. I loved all of the characters, I'm excited to see how Caleb grows in the next books. I can tell he is going to be a very important part of the story. I also thought it was cool that we got a little of the shadows POV which was very creepy.. Also... AIRSHIPS!! Enough said! My only complaint was that the magic system wasn't completely explained and I wanted to und ...more
C. Frank
Mar 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Though Deck is a new and upcoming author, he writes with the confidence and experience of published authors like Michael J. Sullivan and Terry Brooks. This is so evident in the pages of FIrst of Shadows. Well crafted characters you care about and a rich, deep world you can't wait to learn more of—this book has it all.

As others have mentioned: fascinating and intricate magic system, skyships, ancient evils... so many things to keep my mind wandering and hungry for more. I can't wait for the next
Kitvaria Sarene
Copy and pasted my bits from our group SPFBO review, found here:

Once I started it, I was hooked. I clicked with the main characters, especially the second one, right away. The concepts of the world intrigued me a lot, so I flew through the book at speed, waiting to see where it all goes! The switch between POVs worked well and kept me glued to the pages.

The end was the most disappointing part for me. Not because of what happens, but because – it just end
Anca Antoci
Oct 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
The First of Shadows is the first book in The Riven Realm series, by Deck Mathews. Reading it felt like watching a movie. The scenes are written vividly in a cinematic style that feels very modern. From the beginning, you get a high fantasy vibe that is maintained throughout the rest of the book despite the low number of pages (low for a high fantasy).

“The world was a wash of dingy stormlight as the drifter clambered up the craggy bluff. A thick bank of clouds loomed in the east, roiling in from
Jan 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
A Firm Foundation

This novella marks the beginning of Matthews ‘Riven Realm’ series (I am unsure at this point how many books are planned, I hope it's a few because I don't want to stop reading) and gives us more depth to world of Varkas that he had started to reveal in his short stories. In ‘The First of Shadows’ we met some great characters that I am very keen to get to know more about. We have the mysterious drifter whose opening scene so captivated me, the crippled Caleb Rusk - my favourite,
Aug 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Ok enough

I'm a bit on the fence with this one. Usually I absolutely love when the fantasy series have maps, detailed history, background, lore and magic systems. This book ticks the boxes but somehow the way these details were presented I found it to be a bit muddled and I kept losing track of the names of people and places and also couldn't really visualize the world properly.

Lot of bits and pieces of information made the first one third of the book a bit vexing, would have been nice if things
A Voracious Reader (a.k.a. Carol)

Book source ~ Tour

Caleb Rusk is a crippled young man, but that doesn’t stop him from being one of the best riggers on the Blasted Coast. With a raging storm sweeping across the land he meets a wounded stranger on the way home. He has no idea what this small moment will do to his life.

The Ember Throne in the capital of Taralius is concerned about a series of deaths that shouldn’t even be happening, and yet they are. Second Corporal Avendor Tarcoth is given the responsibility of finding out the
Deston Munden
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is my third story within the Varkas world and I can say that I enjoyed this even more than the previous two. The First of Shadows is a full-length novella set within the world of Deck’s other two books: In the Tower of the Witching Tree and The Melding Thief. Following several point of view characters including but not limited to Caleb and Palawen, the story sets the stage for a world filled with magic and political intrigue.

I found that I couldn’t help myself from gobbling up the pages ea
Nancy Foster
Apr 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spfbo
Firstly, I appreciate the author for giving me an ARC copy to enjoy, thank you!

This novella delves into 3 main POV's (with an additional supporting 2 POVs for brief moments) with initially separate stories that converge into the mystery of the same magical artifact on the nicely portrayed cover.

The first POV belongs to a mysterious wanderer who goes by the moniker Shem. A very dangerous demon that infects corpses named Faceless has been hunting him down for several weeks. Shem is a skillful swor
Mar 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This week I finished reading The First of Shadows by Deck Matthews. There is nothing better than immersing myself into a fictional fantasy to relax before going to bed. I wanted to share my thoughts about this book because it is fantastic and one of the best that I have read in a while.

With a love for reading, I thoroughly enjoyed this book because Matthews brings you into a fantasy world with a new, interesting story line in the world of Varkas. Matthews has a profound way of using his writing
Jul 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
1. Deck Matthews has made a promise. On sword, amulet, and magical bracelet… A promise of a very good series. His wordbuilding has the depth required to carry a story arc.
2. A cross of influences: in magic, in fighting, in language… a great combination of the familiar and the new.
3. A wide range of characters whose stories dovetail into each other. I thought for a second that there where too many of them, that I would get confused… but what he does in just a novella is fantastic. Drifters who lo
Elizabeth Tabler
Sep 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Deck Matthews's book, The First of Shadows, has been on my TBR for a long time. I ended up saving my reading of it until I got an opportunity to read it on tour. I got to support both the series and The Write Reads. Additionally, it is Self Published Fantasy Month, and being that this is a self-published fantasy title, the stars aligned, and I got a chance to check this out finally. And I am so glad that I did.

The First of Shadows is a great book and hints at a wonderful series. It evoked a lot
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Deck Matthews is a pseudonym for one particular Matthew Ward. He is a life-long reader who fell in love with writing and fantasy in middle school. He remains an avid reader, a casual gamer and a dabbler in the visual arts. He has worked as a designer and currently spends his days neck-deep in code as a front-end web developer.

He also holds a Master’s degree in English Literature and currently resi

Other books in the series

The Riven Realm (3 books)
  • Dust of the Darkness (The Riven Realm #2)
  • A Shattering of Glass (The Riven Realm #3)

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