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After centuries of calm, the Nameless One is stirring. An army is giants, ogres and other creatures joining forces from across the Desolate Lands, united for the first time in history under one black banner. By the spring, or perhaps sooner, the Nameless One and his forces will be at the walls of the great city of Avendoom. Unless Shadow Harold, master thief, can find some way to stop them. Epic fantasy at its best, Shadow Prowler is the first in a trilogy that follows professional thief Shadow Harold on his quest for a magic Horn that will restore peace to the kingdom of Siala. Accompanied by an elfin princess, ten Wild Hearts - the most experienced and dangerous royal fighters - and the King's court jester (who may be more than he seems ...or less), Harold must outwit angry demons, escape the clutches of a band of hired murderers, survive ten bloody skirmishes ...and reach the burial grounds before dark. Can he escape a fate worse than death?

396 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2002

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About the author

Alexey Pehov

58 books320 followers
Alexey Pehov is the award-winning author of "The Chronicles of Siala," a bestselling series in his native Russia. SHADOW PROWLER (first published in Russia in 2002 as STEALTH IN THE SHADOWS) was the first book in the series THE CHRONICLES OF SIAL, and became one of Russia’s biggest, most successful debuts. His novel UNDER THE SIGN OF THE MANTIKOR was named "Book of Year" and "Best Fantasy Novel" in 2004 by Russia's largest fantasy magazine, World of Fantasy.

The name Alexey Pehov is a transliteration of Алексей Пехов.

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5 stars
1,167 (35%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 219 reviews
December 3, 2018
😈 Blame It All On The Evil Russians™ Buddy Read (BIAOTEVBR™) with Evgeny, Eilonwy, Lee and My Dearest of Wives 😈

Rating breakdown:
Super Extra Fun Entertaining Story: +5 stars.
Somewhat Slightly Cool Cast of Characters: +5 stars.
Barbarically Clunky Translation: - 5 stars.
Poorly Poor Editing Job: - 1 star.

And the moral of this breakdown is: thou shalt not judge a book by its subpar translation and/or its in-dire-need-of-editing editing. No, thou shalt not.

Well, technically, you can if you want to. I mean, it’s a free country, after all (much to my utter desperation and sorrow and stuff), so if you want to waste your time whining about the moderately clumsy Russian to Crusta-Speak English translation and wondering (among other things) why the fish the MC’s name was changed from Sounds Perfectly Fine Garrett (SPFG™) to Sounds Pretty Pathetic Harold (SPPH™), when another character’s name remained the same despite causing much confusing confusion in English (for his name is For), then feel free and stuff. Oh, and if you happen to have a few extra minutes to spare after wasting your time in this foolish manner, you could squander it a bit more by wondering (among other things) why the stinking shrimp one of the characters suddenly calls Harold Garrett (instead of, um, you know, Harold) towards the end of the book. Or why Garrett, no, sorry, I meant to say Harold. No, wait, it’s Garrett I meant. Unless it was Harold. I forget. Anyway, what was I going to say? Can’t remember now. Oh, well. So. Pondering over such puny issues is obviously beneath me, but, had I given them some thought (which I didn’t), I would probably have come to the very logical conclusion that Russian authors provide their translators and editors with high quality stuff. (And that, whatever it is, I want some.)

Anyway, if you do the Super Clever Thing (SCT™) like me, and decide to ignore all the above mentioned stuff, then there’s a slight chance you might perhaps enjoy the book. Maybe. A little. Okay, to be revoltingly honest, I have to admit that the premise of the story is a teensy little bit clichéd, as it comes fully equipped with a hastily brought-together fellowship bunch of diverse characters joining forces to fight Sauron the Ultimate Evil and stuff. BUT. If you do the SCT™ again (yes, it’s exhausting. Believe me, I know), and go with the scrumptiously entertaining flow, then you’ll find your little self being scrumptiously entertained. And if you don’t, then that means you read the book wrong.

“And what exactly makes this trope fest book such a delightfully engrossing piece of fun fantasy,” you ask? Why evil, aristocratic crayfish, obviously:
“The rotten skunks have really got cheeky!” Deler boomed. “They’re dressed up in guards’ uniforms.” “But who are they?” “Crayfish,” the gnome said, and spat, without turning away from the window. “Creatures of the Crayfish Dukedom.”
You have to admit the presence of villainous crustaceans alone warrants a 5+ star rating. And this is only one of the Many Slightly Awesome Things (MSAT™) that make this book Very Slightly Awesome (VSA™). Want to know about the other MSAT™? Why, of course you do!

My Yummy Thief of a Boyfriend Garrett Harold.
Okay, so Harold isn’t the sexiest moniker ever, but this particular Harold happens to be a thief, which makes him automatically hot and stuff. Also, his nickname is Shadow Harold (because spoiler spoiler spoiler) and shadows make me think of my #1 boyfriend Sandman Slim (because spoiler spoiler spoiler), which makes Harold Instantly Extra Super Hot (IESH™). Also also, he is NOT one of these disgustingly young MCs who make me feel like an Egyptian mummy from the First Dynasty a bit ancient, which certainly doesn’t hurt and stuff. Also also also, he is one delicious, snarky smart-ass, so yum and stuff.

Not a boring moment to be had.
It’s all fun, fast-paced, super entertaining stuff all the time. Add to that Halloween-approved, creepalicious scenes featuring the scariest creatures ever (aka cute little kids *shudders*), blood gushing from ragged wounds in “jolly, rhythmical spurts”, one of the best bar fights ever, and strategically inserted, most excellent flashbacks that give much more depth to the story, and tada! You get your little self a Slightly Very Good Book (SVGB™) and stuff.

The scrumptious cast of secondary characters.
This is one awesome fellowship bunch, if you ask me. Okay, we don’t know all of them that well yet, since this is only the beginning of their journey to fight Sauron the Baddest Bad, but I already 💕lurves💕 a few of them, and have consequently done the Preemptive Kidnapping Adopting Thing (PKAT™), just in case. So first we have Kli-Kli, aka the coolest, most annoyingly hilarious and hilariously annoying goblin in the history of coolest, most annoyingly hilarious and hilariously annoying goblins. Then we have Deler the dwarf and Hallas the gnome, who, as an Evil Russian™ once mentioned, are kinda sorta like a decaf-yet-cool version of One-Eye and Goblin . And finally we have Potential High Security Harem Specimen #12589, aka my soon-to-be Super Hot Elven Girlfriend of the Extra Sexey Fangs (SHEGotESF™), Lady Mine Mine Mine Miralissa. What can I say, I’ve always had a soft spot for chicks who run around with bow in hand and a dagger dripping with gore at their side.

Welcome to the zoo!
I might perhaps maybe have previously mentioned that there are goblins and dwarves and gnomes and elves in this most engaging tale. Well, guess what, there are also ogres and giants and trolls, oh my! And orcs and demons and centaurs, oh my! And dragons and phantoms and puny humans, oh my! Yes! You read that right! There are even puny humans in this story! Amazing, is it not? But you know what the coolest of coolest cuddly pets are in this book (apart from the homicidal crayfish, obviously)? Ever-bleating goat-men. Sorry, I think the politically correct term for them is Doralissians. I personally think “goat-men” sounds much hotter, but what do I know? Anyway, the Doralissians are pretty wondrous creatures beings. Not only do they howl and baaaaaa non-stop, they’re also hot-tempered as fish, stubborn as shrimp and stupider than a herd of brain-dead dinoflagellates. Quite the deliciously irresistible mix, methinks.

That’s what happens when you put a barrel of Russian vodka in a goat-men pen Doralissian compound, just so you know.

Need I say more? Didn’t think so.

➽ And the moral of this So Many New Potential Harem Slaves Boarders I Better Have Fleet Admiral DaShrimp Build a New High Security Wing Double Quick Just In Case and Stuff Crappy Non Review(SMNPHSBIBHFADBaNHSWDBJICaSCNR™) is: thieving stuff + assassination stuff + creepy stuff + adventurous stuff + jolly camaraderie stuff + quite humerus humorous stuff = Alexey Pehov 1 – Translation and Editing Team of Doom™ 0.

Book 2: Shadow Chaser ★★★★
Book 3: Shadow Blizzard ★★★★

[Pre-review nonsense]

Yummy thief + best goblin court jester ever + murderous aristocratic crayfish + ever-bleating goat-men + creepy stuff + hahahahaha + blood and gore, yay! =

This is my recently acquired Homicidal Goat Herd of Doom (HGHoD™), just so you know. They loved reading this book just as much as I did, in case you hadn't noticed.

➽ Full I'm Speed Learning Cyrillic script So I Can Read the Next Installment in Russian Because this Translation Kinda Sorta Sucked Wasn't the Best Ever Crappy Non Review (ISLCSSICRtNIiRBtTKSSWtBECNR™) to come.
Profile Image for Eilonwy.
826 reviews207 followers
November 5, 2018
Seeing as how I've just started Book 2 in this trilogy, maybe I should write a review for Book 1!
Master-thief Harold Garret lives in Valiostr, part of Siala, a land of humans, orcs, goblins, gnomes, dwarves, elves, demons, werewolves, and vampires. (All the top wizards agree that vampires are strictly myth.) Despite his refusal to join the Thieves’ Guild, Garret has a sterling reputation, which gains him a commission to seek the One True Ring legendary Rainbow Horn to defeat the top threat to the land, known as the Nameless One, once and all for all. Along with a mixed company (all with pretty mixed motives, as well), Garret sets off on a journey full of suspense and surprises.
Okay, this is not the most original sounding set-up for a fantasy novel, is it?

And yet somehow it works, absolutely delightfully. Rather than feeling pathetically bog standard, this reads more like a love letter celebrating fantasy traditions. What truly makes this book is Garret’s wryly funny and sharply witty voice. (As to why the English translation goes with the name “Harold” rather than the original Russian “Garret” was beyond any of us in my Buddy Read group, and much thanks to Evgeny for telling us about the change!) While this book has its share of tense, terrifying, and violent moments, Garret always manages to find some absurdity in it, and the humor makes for a great combination of suspenseful but also funny. Nothing about this book takes itself too seriously.

There are some original touches. Elves are still ridiculously good-looking, of course, but they are closely related to orcs, and rock a pair of impressive fangs. Goblins are little and cute and extremely obnoxious (Kli-Kli the jester is an awesome character. Hmmm, maybe I just imagine he’s cute; he certainly wouldn’t appreciate being called that). Siala is very firmly its own place -- if I found myself there, I wouldn’t mistake it for any other fantasyland.

Definitely recommended because this book was really fun! Thanks to Evgeny for suggesting that it might make for a good Buddy Read.

And check out my Buddy Readers’ reviews:

Crayfish Breeder Sarah
Profile Image for Stefan.
408 reviews167 followers
June 30, 2010
Shadow Prowler, the first fantasy novel by Russian author Alexey Pehov to be translated to English, pulls out every fantasy cliché in the book: elves, dwarves, orcs, ogres, goblins, guilds of thieves and assassins, and an evil overlord (the "Nameless One") who is about to awaken and take over the land with an army of evil beasties. Shadow Harold (yes, that's his name) is a master thief who, against his will, gets involved in rescuing the world from said Nameless One. To do so, he must retrieve a magical doohickey (the Rainbow Horn) from someplace dark and scary in, yes, the Desolate Lands. If you wanted to play a drinking game, taking a shot whenever Shadow Prowler matches up with entries in The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynne Jones, you'd be under the table in no time.

Shadow Prowler initially reads a bit like Steven Brust: the thief Shadow Harold narrates the story in the first person, in a style similar to — but much less entertaining than — the assassin Vlad Taltos. (The similarity to Brust helps explain why I persisted through almost 300 pages.) Shadow Harold is a capable, somewhat standard criminal-hero, a bit full of himself but definitely appropriate for the story. However, he has an annoying tendency to switch tenses from paragraph to paragraph; most of the main action is narrated in the past tense, but Shadow Harold's occasional thoughts about the action are told in the present tense.It reminded me of a movie actor who occasionally turns to the camera to address the viewers directly; I found this Ferris Bueller-like narrative technique very confusing and jarring. Strangely, Alexey Pehov abandons this technique later on in the novel, but that only reinforces the impression that this novel could have benefited from more careful editing. (Still, I didn't mind when the present tense interruptions ended, because imagining a thief called Shadow Harold as a mix between Vlad Taltos and Ferris Bueller was giving me spectacular headaches and didn't help me get immersed in the novel at all.)

There are some original ideas and nice city descriptions in Shadow Prowler, and the plot moves along at a pleasantly fast pace, but to balance out those few positives, the dark passages in the novel are unconvincing, the humor is mostly juvenile and predictable, the action scenes just aren't exciting, and the characters are mostly flat stereotypes. There's a goblin court jester who is initially just plain annoying, but who is obviously being set up for a more meaningful role later on (Robin Hobb's Fool, anyone?). The elven princess Miralissa is the only important female character in the otherwise all-male cast, so obviously the male characters have to point out her feminine charms several times.

I lost all interest in Shadow Prowler about 100 pages from the end, started skimming pages to see if could at least get to the end, and finally gave up completely about 50 pages out, because I realized this is only the first book in a trilogy and nothing could convince me to read the sequels. People who pick this up because it was translated by Andrew Bromfield (who also translated Sergei Lukyanenko's books) will be sorely disappointed.

(This review was also published on the Fantasy Literature website --- www.fantasyliterature.com. Come check us out!)
Profile Image for Kara Babcock.
1,954 reviews1,292 followers
October 4, 2016
“After centuries of calm, the Nameless One is stirring.” So opens the cover copy for Shadow Prowler.

A Nameless One, you say? Could this possibly be some kind of “evil overlord” (TVTropes) who wants to bend an entire land to his will? But surely there will be some resistance!

“Unless Shadow Harold, master thief, can find some way to stop them.”

A master thief named “Shadow Harold”, you say? Could he possibly be some kind of Lovable Rogue (TVTropes) who steals for fun and profit yet has a heart of gold?

“… accompanied on his quest by an Elfin princess, Miralissa…”

Elves, you say?

“… ten Wild Hearts, the most experienced and dangerous fighters in their world …”

Fantasy SEALs, you say?

“… and by the king’s court jester (who may be more than he seems … or less)”

A fool turning out to have a pivotal role in the plot, you say?

Shadow Prowler is one of those jewels of epic fantasy that fell out of the trope tree and literally hit every branch on the way down but still somehow manages to avoid being a total wreck. Alexey Pehov crams wizards, shamans, ogres, orcs, dwarves, gnomes, elves, and even some humans into this book. There is magic on a grand scale but mundane activities like theft and soldiering. There is a literal nameless Big Bad (and hints of an even Bigger Bad behind the Big Bad) who wants to swoop back in after centuries of being held at bay by a MacGuffin. If you’re coming to Shadow Prowler looking for “original” fantasy you’ll be sorely disappointed. On the other hand, if, like me, you’ve been craving some good ol’fashioned epic fantasy, you might find this to be exactly what you need.

To be fair, Pehov embellishes and reinvents to a small extent. Take elves, for instance. These aren’t your typical Tolkienesque, statuesque, blond beauties. They are fanged cousins of the orcs. Similarly, the overarching plot involves a dungeon dive into a forbidden tomb. (Although this by itself is not original, I admit, the worldbuilding behind the story of the tomb is pretty cool, as are some of the other details Pehov includes. He’s lifting from a lot of sources, so it evens out nicely.)

Shadow Harold, the protagonist and narrator, becomes a reluctant sort of hero and prophecy figure. We meet him in the midst of a heist, which itself is a sort of audition for the main adventure. However, Pehov allows a side-quest to hijack the main narrative. This is not a standalone book and it literally just ends with no real resolution to any of the plot threads; you are so warned. The side-quest is interesting enough if you just enjoy hanging around Avendoom with Shadow Herald, but if you’re one of those people who skip talking to any NPCs except the ones you have to interact with to get the achievements and finish the game, you’re going to be bored for most of this book.

Much like the world, Shadow Harold himself and the plots he gets wrapped up in are straight from your typical pantheon of rogue-like adventures. For example, he has to steal from the deserving, steal from forbidden territory, and engineer a meeting of people who all want the same thing so that they will kill each other instead of him. Fortunately, Pehov’s writing is interesting and entertaining enough that you can overlook this deployment of standard ideas. I saw everything coming from a kilometre away, but I still took a good amount of delight in reading it. Is that a guilty pleasure? I don’t know.

That being said, I’m questioning whether I’ll pick up the next book in the series. I’m just not sure I’m invested in the story. Shadow Harold is a fun character, but do I care about him? Do I care about cookiecutter fantasy kingdom from standard fantasy world? Mehhhhh. The ride is fun but the memories are a bit jaded, I admit.

Shadow Prowler also falls flat in a few other areas. There is a notable dearth of women characters; Miralissa, the “elfin princess” is pretty much the only memorable one, and so she of course has a mystical role (not to mention being an Other in the form of an elf). Most of Harold’s antagonists have a buffoonish quality to them; he never really meets with any truly threatening resistance on an individual level. And, as a I said, the fact the entire book is leading up to the actual quest that Harold is supposed to go on is a bit of a letdown.

I will say that Andrew Bromfeld’s translation is impeccable. I don’t mean that in the sense that I understand Russian and can pass judgment on its accuracy. But this book reads as if it were written in English. It doesn’t feel forced at all; there are idioms in here that are natural to English speakers but would be odd if they were present in the original text. This is how translations should be, and Bromfeld seems to have nailed it. One minor quibble related to the writing, however: occasionally we get terms imported from our world, such as the use of Latin (“quod erat demonstrandum”) or Harold’s reference to “Wednesday”. It really throws me off when authors do this in fantasy worlds. It’s like, did their world invent a parallel Latin and days named after Norse gods? I don’t know if it’s Bromfeld or Pehov’s doing, but I don’t like it. *curmudgeon harrumph*

Bottom line: Shadow Prowler is a lot of fun, for some value of fun, but it isn’t innovative. This is one step down the ladder from Shannara, which is also a blatant Tolkien clone, but does innovative things with that. There’s something to be said for embracing the tropes and trying to use them in new and interesting ways, but that doesn’t happen here. If you can put up with that and just let it ride, then like me you’ll probably like the story enough to stick around and enjoy it. Pehov has a competent, careful, and reassuring way of plotting that, while perhaps more predictable than I like, is no less fulfilling for it. If, on the other hand, you’re looking for fantasy that challenges and pushes back against the genre’s conventions, you’ll want to keep looking. Shadow Prowler is a clone, but it makes no bones and no secrets about this, and that’s why I’m OK with it.

Creative Commons BY-NC License
Profile Image for Ranting Dragon.
404 reviews229 followers
June 27, 2011

Shadow Prowler by Alexey Pehov is the first book translated into English from The Chronicles of Siala trilogy, an award winning series in Russia. The book was translated by Andrew Bromfield, who also translated the popular Night Watch series.

Shadow Harold is a master thief in the great city of Avendoom. He’s done his best to remain in the shadows; however, after one particularly difficult heist, Harold is given a choice — assist a group of heroes in a desperate quest to impede the Nameless One’s forces or rot away in prison. It sounds like a simple decision, but Harold has never wanted to be a hero. Now, along with an Elfin princess, the king’s goblin court jester, and a group of brave and fearless soldiers, Harold is about to embark on the greatest commission of his life.

To retrieve a powerful item of magic, this diverse group must learn to trust each other while traveling through perilous lands and into the underground tombs of Hrad Spein, a place of great power and the home of unspeakable terrors. Success could mean preventing the Nameless One and his minions from attacking Avendome and eliminating humankind and their allies forever. Harold may hold the key to saving the world in his hand, but he would rather toss it into a deep abyss and go back to picking pockets.

Déjà vu
Featuring elves, ogres, dwarves, and gnomes, an impossible quest to retrieve a magical item, a reluctant thief, and the nameless evil doers poised to strike, Shadow Prowler uses every fantasy cliché in the genre. I prefer the unexpected, so at first glance I was hesitant to pick this one up, but when I heard the series was an award winner in Russia, I decided to give it a go (plus I won a free copy — thank you, Tor). I was impressed with Pehov’s clever re-imagining of familiar motifs. From the descriptions and origins of each race to the exciting world around them, Pehov has a unique vision. Pehov’s writing really shines in the characters, starting with the narrator, Harold.

Out of the shadows
The majority of the story is narrated by Harold, a Master thief who has done well keeping himself out of trouble. He is confident and witty and prefers to avoid direct conflict, instead relying on his street smarts or simply hiding in the shadows to stay alive.

The world around him is vast and full of life, but there are no info dumps in this book. We learn things as Harold does and take for granted what he already knows. When Harold utters a phrase like “may a h’san’kor devour my dear departed granny”, you’ll laugh as if this were an everyday saying here in the real world. The narration pulled me in completely. I felt like I was listening to Harold tell his tales at the pub over a mug of ale. He even occasionally refers to himself in the third person, which threw me off at first, but it’s clearly a personality quirk and adds even more depth to this already well-conceived character.

There are a few instances where the narrative switches to a third person viewpoint. These scenes are creatively inserted into the story and seamlessly drive the narrative forward. They contain some of the best writing in the book, giving a glimpse into the depth of Pehov’s world and providing a clear example of why this author is an award winner.

Thanks for the support
Every hero needs support, especially one as unaccustomed to heroism as Harold. Harold interacts with a broad assortment of friends and foes. From Harold’s portly mentor, a thief-turned-priest, to an oft injured would-be assassin, every character Harold meets in Avendoom sparkles with life.

Pehov did an excellent job of giving me a feeling of connectedness with Harold. As he discovered more about each member of his group, I did too. A great example are The Wilds Hearts: they start off as a jumbled group, but as the story progresses, they grow and change, each one taking on a unique personality as Harold gets to know them. (Props to Pehov for writing the hippest goblin jester in fantasy. Kli-Kli was awesome!)

Action packed
At times Shadow Prowler felt like the novelization of a video game. During one quest Harold stops at a Dwarven owned shop and picks out a number of items — 12 bolts of ice, 12 of fire, a magic bottle, a rare chocobo egg — well, not the last one, but you get the point.

The combat was thrilling and the conflict filled with tension. One brawl in an inn called The Knife and Axe had me ducking for cover. Pehov’s action was superbly written. Whether a brief chase through the streets, an epic battle between vast armies, or an assassination attempt in a dark alley, each moment had my heart thumping.

Monotonous magic
Shadow Prowler includes two types of magic. The wizards practice a fast yet inaccurate magic, while the shamans practice a slow, ritualistic magic. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, but both require a depth of understanding that is slowly disappearing from the world. Pehov succeeds in transforming an archaic design and reviving it with his unique vision; however, the magic lacked the same feeling of distinctness found in other aspects of the novel. Hopefully this will be more fleshed out in the next installment.

Why should you read this book?
At first glance Shadow Prowler doesn’t seem to be anything unique; however, Pehov reshapes the common tropes of the fantasy genre and creates an experience that feels original. Harold is a wonderful narrator who won me over quickly and the story surges at a breakneck pace. The ending was exciting and left me eager to receive my copy of the next installment of the trilogy, Shadow Chaser.

With an epic quest, enjoyable characters, plenty of action, and unexpected twists, I would highly recommend Shadow Prowler.
Profile Image for Leo.
118 reviews9 followers
July 9, 2014
I can understand why some readers might rate Shadow Prowler lower - it doesn't seem all that original, at first glance. This book draws from a sub-genre of fantasy that has been around the bend and them some - horse and sword fantasy, as popularized by Tolkien with LOTR. However, anyone accusing Pehov of a lack in originality is quite wrong, and to be honest, ignorant of some of the oldest traditions in storytelling. Pehov takes his readers on a fun romp through Siala with the likes of the ever-recalcitrant Shadow Harold, Kli-Kli the goblin and the rest of the rascally Wild Hearts.

Horse and sword fantasy has been a staple of science-fiction/fantasy sections of bookstores for years, decades even. And you can tell that Pehov has a love for it - he's very well read. You can see echoes of the Fionavar Tapestry and the Dragonlance novels. And in many ways, I see this book as a tribute to them. I get intense flashbacks to Tasslehoff Burrfoot with Kli-Kli on the scene, and the setting in general reminds me of Fionavar. All good things! In fact, going back to classic literature - with authors like Chaucer, Homer and Virgil - a work couldn't be considered legitimate without mentioning your sources. Even if said source was fictional (Chaucer's Lollys), it lent weight to the story. Even later on, down time's stream, authors like Hartmann Von Aue or Chretien de Troyes only ever put new spins on old stories. I look at it like an ultimate compliment: if these kinds of stories weren't great, why would people keep telling them? And Pehov tells them well.

Pehov has a solid grounding in imagery, even if some of the story does get a bit lost in translation (that bit involving the "cobweb" and his transition from roof to roof was odd). Luckily, this didn't happen frequently, in fact I only grew confused that one time - quite the accomplishment for the translator. Aside from the small issue with presentation, Pehov's story is fun, action-packed and an excellent representation of this branch of fantasy.

I won't go on and potentially spoil for you potential readers. He's a good writer, the characters are memorable and the shadows are your friend.

Read it, you won't regret it.
Profile Image for Sotiris Karaiskos.
1,178 reviews89 followers
September 24, 2016
Η αλήθεια είναι ότι ο χώρος της υψηλής φαντασίας είναι σχεδόν αποκλειστικά μία αγγλόφωνη υπόθεση καθώς είναι μετρημένα στα δάχτυλα του ενός χεριού τα αξιοσημείωτα έργα του είδους που δεν έχουν γραφτεί από αγγλόφωνους συγγραφείς. Αυτά τα μετρημένα θέλω να τα εξερευνήσω ώστε να έχω μία ιδέα, για αυτό ξεκίνησα από τον Ρώσο Alexey Pehov.

Η επιβράβευση έρχεται με τις πρώτες σελίδες, όταν αντιλαμβάνεσαι τις ρωσικές πολιτιστικές πινελιές που παρεισφρύουν στο έργο. Ο χώρος που κινούνται οι ήρωες μας μοιάζει εκπληκτικά με τη Ρωσία ενώ το πλήθος των μυθικών πλασμάτων δίνει έναν φολκλορικό χαρακτήρα. Βέβαια δεν μπορώ να πω ότι είναι κάτι τόσο εξωτικό, οι "δυτικές" επιρροές μάλλον είναι ολοφάνερες. Θα μπορούσα να πω ότι είναι κάτι μεταξύ του έργου του J.R.R. Tolkien και των πιο πρόσφατων βιβλίων με την περισσότερο κυνική ατμόσφαιρα. Από εκεί και πέρα μπορώ να πω ότι αυτό το πρώτο βιβλίο στέκεται αξιοπρεπώς απέναντι στα αντίστοιχα αγγλόφωνα έργα. Δεν έχει μέσα τίποτα ενοχλητικό ή κάποιες χτυπητές αδυναμίες, δεν βρίσκω όμως και κάτι το εξαιρετικό, αν και ο συγγραφέας κάνει κάποιες προσπάθειες να διαφοροποιηθεί.

Οπότε θα βάλω ένα τριάρι σε αυτό το πρώτο βιβλίο και θα προχωρήσω στη συνέχεια για να δω πού καταλήγει η σειρά.
Profile Image for Leo.
4,388 reviews413 followers
August 18, 2021
I enjoyed the story yet it took me 5 days to finish. Loved the diffrent creatures ogres, giants and so on.
Profile Image for Lee.
351 reviews192 followers
October 29, 2018
My foray into Russian writers had me reading this as an example of fantasy work, recommended as being popular in back in Russia.
So this story is like a hundred you've read before. A likable thief who gets framed on a job, ends up before the King, offered a commission on the other side of the continent, to steal something from a place no one has ever stolen from, with a band of merry men.
On top of the vanilla, we have the issues of translation. Where interactions between characters can be awkward, because that kind of local friendly chat or passive aggressive wording gets completely lost in the translation.

Wait! Why then four stars?

Cause it is a fun read! I really enjoyed the place, the characters, the interaction between the different races, I forgot to mention, it has goblins, dwarves, orcs, gnomes and elves, dark and light. In fact the conversations between races translates better than the human banter.
The band of merry men have huge potential to grow their characters in later books and our thief certainly has a lot of opportunity to develop.
This is like a Russian Lord of the Rings Lite. But a shit load easier to read.

As of yet, we haven't really delved into the dark side of the story, but it is certainly there and a force that can't be ignored. I am sure in book two that will be explored more. It isn't all distant that's though in this story, there is a part of the book where our thief had to enter a zone where most do not return from (insert evil laugh) and that is well written, spooky and tense.

So overall, fun and believable. I find it easier to accept stilted conversations when I know it is a translation issue and not poor writing.
Definitely carrying on with this one.
76 reviews8 followers
June 25, 2012
Shadow Prowler was a book I bought on random impulse and I must say that I was pleasantly surprised.

What I liked

- It uses flashback segments(1st person limited) wrapped into the plot as a mechanism for world building. Allowing the main character and the readers' knowledge of historic events in the world to grow through short stories within the story. I loved this, in large part because I though all of these short stories were really good.

- Creative alterations to Elves
Elves exist in this story but they are quite different from the Tolkien versions. In Shadow Prowler elves are a species closely related to Orcs. Which eliminates the "pretentious pretty boy" factor often present in depictions of that race.

- Dark atmosphere without being heavy handed about it.
It has a good sense of danger, foreboding, and mistrust without resorting to the large amount of torture, sexual unpleasantness, and excessive brutality that modern fantasy books often abuse.

What I was less fond of

- Main character is a bit of weak-point.
He's not bad exactly, it's just that he's a pretty straight forward fantasy thief; and it just seems like, of the occupations in this particular fantasy world, his is the least interesting. Especially when the short stories give you a taste of some great warrior and wizard characters.

- It's a little exposition heavy at times.
The main character spends a lot of time explaining things in his head. It never seemed to me like it quite crossed the line into being long winded but it got close a few times
Profile Image for Joseph.
697 reviews94 followers
October 25, 2012
A lot of fun, this one. If you just list the ingredients (famous thief is recruited by the King to fetch a macguffin in exchange for not being made dead, sets out on a journey with a group of misfits, world races include elves, dwarves, goblins, orcs, gnomes, ogres) it'd look like the most generic thing you could imagine. And at some level I suppose it is, but it's still charming and engaging, primarily because of Shadow Harold's somewhat snarky narration, and because a bit of strangeness creeps in since it was translated into English from its original Russian. I look forward to progressing in the trilogy.
Profile Image for Susan.
1,745 reviews37 followers
November 27, 2012
Now throw in some Russian folk lore, elves of ash-colored hair and pointy teeth, orcs being the first children of the earth, a wise-ass goblin, and a most reluctant hero. This book was a joy to listen to. It was one of those random picks that I borrowed from the library based solely on the cover. Shallowness did not lead me astray this time; this book is excellent adventure. Alexey Pehov gave us a nitty gritty tale filled with grey-area characters full of mystery. I especially liked Harold’s sarcastic wit and practical take on events.
Profile Image for Erika.
258 reviews23 followers
March 27, 2010
Shadow Harold is a professional thief. His latest Commission (thieving job) has gotten him in a bit of trouble. He hasn’t exactly gotten caught, just noticed by the wrong people. The kingdom of Siala is overrun with a mysterious yellow fog and demons that hunt in the shadows. Everyone thinks the Namesless One is to blame--a figure of darkness both evil and powerful who sends his minions forth to carry out terrible deeds. The Order of Magicians bring Harold forward with a proposition: journey to Hrad Spein and the Palace of Bones to retrieve the Rainbow Horn or be sent to the Gray Stones for his perpetual thieving crimes. The Rainbow Horn is a magical instrument sure to break the bond that ties the Nameless One to this world; the Gray Stones is the worst prison imaginable. Harold doesn’t have to think very hard about his decision and it isn’t long before he’s off to the Forbidden Territory in search of a map that will help him navigate Hrad Spein.

Shadow Prowler is an interesting mix of races and characters looking and acting out of the ordinary from what I’m used to seeing in Fantasy novels. It’s laughable for dwarves to have beards--only goblins partake in that particular ritual; elves aren’t beautiful in the classic waifish way so associated with their multiple literary appearances--they’re almost as ugly as orcs, their cousins, but only slightly more appealing. Siala itself is a city built around thieves with statues and monuments erected to one of the best around. The characters and setting are unorthodox and quirky. The writing, however, I had some trouble with.

Originally, Shadow Prowler was written in Alexey Pehov’s native Russian. What I read was an edition translated to English. Translators have a hard job. It’s difficult to capture the literal events of the narrative and remove them to another language. It’s even more difficult to capture the sentiment and ambiance in one language and bring it to another. Words change, meanings change--preserving literal meaning may come at the sake of the poetics and vice versa. Translators have a precarious balancing act to perform; I don’t envy them the job.

When I write, I do so in two languages, mixing English and Spanish to get my point across. Sometimes what I want to express is best felt in the essence of one word or phrase in one language and not the other. It works for me, I enjoy doing it, but what sometimes comes naturally, that decision, the need, to choose between one language and the other, isn’t always easy. I’m constantly reminded of translators who do professionally what I every once in awhile trouble over at my leisure for a word or phrase. Translating an entire work of fiction is hard, to say the least.

I hesitate to bring this up because I am so appreciative of how complex and involved professional translating is, but it’s important here. In the case of Shadow Prowler I think the translation from Russian to English is part of why I didn’t enjoy as much about the book as possible. The other part, and what makes this a bit of a sticky review for me, is realizing the original language may have been just as disagreeable to me. This particular translation, albeit it will be the only one available in English, is not for me. Other readers may like it; I’m almost sure what bothered me won’t affect everyone else in the same way. Let me give you some examples.

Harold frequently referred to himself in the third person. He also used “we” instead of saying, “I.” At first I thought this was to add flavor to his cocky, self-assured nature. As I read further, it became a choice of style I couldn’t warm up to. There’s also some weird metaphors that I found too heavy-handed and awkward. The translation in these areas, I thought, might have been too literal. In addition to some mixed tenses, the inclusion of a bit too much detail, backstory, and flashbacks awkwardly placed in the narrative, reading Shadow Prowler became an act of choosing what to ignore and what to enjoy. In this case, what I enjoyed was overshadowed by my inability to navigate smoothly through the text.

I thought the goblin fool, Kli-Kli was an interesting addition--I’ve never thought of placing a creature so typically thought of as nasty and cruel, in a position of levity. Although the clever nature of the quintessential goblin came through, I appreciated it better coming from the most unlikely of sources. In this case, I was reminded of the Fool in King Lear who tends to know more and comment on topics and events no one would suspect him of having an opinion on. Harold’s relationship with Vukhdjaaz, the demon looking for a horse, was comical in the beginning. I’d hoped he’d be included more, but was removed from the plot about halfway through the book. I was also disappointed in the disproportionate lack of female characters. This was only made worse by Harold’s constant inner dialogue as he toyed with the idea of flirting or starting a relationship with Miralissa (the female). I will never understand why an author places one female in the text only to be surrounded by males who automatically want to consider her as a romantic or more intimate partner. Why should she even be considered at all? Her role was much more involved, much more pertinent than it might otherwise have been had she also began sneaking off for secret rendezvous with Harold.

Unfortunately, since I reviewed an ARC, I’m not able to quote passages from the text to support my sentiment. In fact, I don’t even know if the final edition reads better than the ARC. It’s out in hardcover in the US already (mine is a UK copy), but do I really want to re-read the entire thing to find out? Take what I’ve said here into context. I read and reviewed an ARC. This is not the finished product. What you find in bookstores might be more polished with less minor contradictions or inaccuracies caught before final publication. Clearly, Harold has a larger role to play in an unknown future with the hint of prophecy lingering about him. The story was enough to compel me to finish reading. I never put the book down because I was so put off by the negatives, nor did I “force” myself to continue reading. As much as I found to enjoy, overall, I was not impressed. I don’t think I’ll be looking for the second installment in this trilogy.

Thank you to Simon & Schuster UK for my review copy!
Profile Image for Jacqie.
1,653 reviews80 followers
October 6, 2011
Nothing wrong with this one at all. I've read a lot of thief-viewpoint books in the last year. I think they've proliferated thanks to Scott Lynch(may he soon release another title). Unfortunately, writing a thief means that you've got to somehow generate tension while creating a plausible job/con and seem like you know what you're talking about when it comes to society's shady underbelly. Except for the afore-mentioned Lynch (may his pen never dry), I haven't found anyone who can do all this convincingly. Usually the thieves seem too naive, dumb, or over the top to convince me.

But Pehov has done it, even in translation! I really like Shadow Harald, who slinks when he can, fights when he must, and keeps up a jovial commentary to his faithful readers every step of the way. I think the translator must have had a difficult job with the idiom used, and I do think he translated the Nightwatch series more dynamically. But this is high fantasy, not urban fantasy, and I'm sure the language he had to work with was different.

The world is interesting. We have orcs, elves, dwarves, goblins and gnomes, but none of them are quite what you'd expect. The shamanic vs. mage magic system is intriguing. And good history, scary bad guy, plus, shadowy bad guy that you can't seem to quite put your finger on.

The problem comes when the book changes from being about Harald to being an ensemble piece. I didn't get a clear enough sense of individual personality in the soldiers that end up going on a quest with Harald. (Of course there's a quest- this is high fantasy!) I also really, really hope that he doesn't end up in a romance with elf-girl. I like how Harald works, and he is likely to be held back by having to interact with a large group instead of solving problems in his own thiefly way.

The other problem is pacing. We don't even get to the object of our quest in this book, after almost 600 pages. The main event still waits, and I wanted more than just set-up.

But this book feels uniquely Russian in its character, and gave me enough pleasure that I will look for the next one.
Profile Image for Shaitarn.
507 reviews38 followers
February 19, 2021
4.5 stars.

After centuries of calm, the Nameless One is stirring, according to the back cover. Unsurprisingly, the Nameless One has been raising an army of fell creatures that, united under one banner, will march against the human kingdom of Valiostr, and the experienced gambler would put his money on the Nameless One. The only hope is in recovering the Rainbow Horn, a magical McGuffin that's the only thing that can keep the Nameless One trapped, from the catacombs of Hrad Spein. So master thief Shadow Harold is ordered by the king to accompany a small band of Wild Heart warriors (sort of like uber-tough rangers) and elves on a quest to recover the Horn.

So this all sounds like the most cliched and boring of all fantasy plots, right? So why do I recommend this book? Because it's gosh-darned funny. Not comedy like Terry Prachett's works, but funny in a quirky way, as thought the author has taken a sideways look at a D&D game and decided to write a story set in that campaign with his tongue firmly in his cheek.

Here's an example; one of my favourite scenes in this book was one involving a race of goat-men called Doralissians who are known for their stupidity attacking thieves in a tavern:

Ten of the goats had been bright enough to bring crossbows, but they were still too stupid to make use of their advantage. They should have fired first and then got involved in the fighting. But as the goats always do, they got everything backwards. The ones without crossbows went charging forwards stupidly, leaving their archer brothers behind them. And the ones with crossbows turned out not to be blessed with the gift of patience either: they decided that the sooner they fired, the better.
So they fired. Of ten bolts, three hit the wall, six hit the backs of the charging goat-men, and only one - clearly by complete accident - pierced the shoulder of one of Markum's men.
The Doralissians just don't know how to play their trump cards. Having killed six of their own kind, the goats stopped in amazement, wondering how they had managed to hit their brothers-in-arms.

You may not have enjoyed that, but it appealed to me. And the whole story is written in this rather flippant tone as it's from Harold's first person viewpoint and he is anything but a heroic character, In fact he's a fairly neutral character: neither heroic nor a tortured dark anti-hero. I personally liked him as a character.

So, yes, I enjoyed this book: a slightly skewered fantasy world with an appealing POV character and a nice twist to all the old tropes. My advice is always go and read the first few pages on Amazon (other online book-ordering sites are available - probably) and see if you like the style. If yes, then check it out.
Profile Image for Krus.
17 reviews6 followers
February 3, 2013
сюжет - 3
идея - 2
герои - 2
жанр - 3
поетика - 3

Още от самото начало книгата грабва читателя със своята тайнствената и мрачна атмосфера. Алексей Пехов дава точна и ясна представа за значението на заглавието и как то е обвързано със съдбата на главния герой - Гарет (Харълд на анг.) - крадец, наемник, убиец или антигерой, нагърбен с тежката задача да спаси света и да направи нещо добро.

Историята се разказва от гледна точка на Гарет, което не я прави по-малко интересна, но на моменти действието се развива бавно. Леката нотка на иронията може да разведри читателя и в най-напрегнатите моменти. Сюжетът не е една от най-силните страни на книгата - действията на Гарет, когато "работи", рязко контрастират с меланхоличните разговори и лутания на героя из Валиостра. Губи се интересът на читателя, а очакваната кулминация така и не настъпва.

Светът на Сиала не се отличава с особена оригиналност и фрапантност. Хора, орки, гноми, гоблини, елфи, демони, великани и прочие. Целият микс от всички раси се излива върху читателя като студен дъжд още от самото начало на Shadow Prowler. Много информация за тях липсва. Авторът разчита на нашите фентъзи познания от други книги, което прави светът на Сиала комерсиален. Расите воюват помежду си, съюзяват се, но всичко се свежда до това, че хората са изправени пред гибел и трябва "да спрат злодея" - Неназовимия - прокуден магьосник, решил да отмъсти на всички, като ги унищожи. Неоригинално. А съдбата на света е връчена в ръцете на един крадец - колкото и нелепо, успява да разчупи рамките на типичното. Появата на вторият "злодей" - "Господаря", който се опитва да спре Гарет и мисията му, дадена от краля - разчупва допълнително сюжета.

Гарет - единственият главен герой на историята. Въпреки „Аз”-повествованието за него се разбира твърде малко. Успява да задържи вниманието на читателя. Добър крадец, предпочитащ тихо да действа "в обятията на своята закрилница, любовница" - сянката. Обмисля действията си, избягва да действа открито, но обича да разчиства работата зад гърба си. Гарет среща много и различни герои, но, за съжаление, на сцената никой друг не се задържа за достатъчно дълго време, за да се нарече поне "второстепенен герой". Остава надеждата, че звездата на останалите герои ще блесне в другите две книги. Като например Валдер, мъртвият архимаг, дошъл в съзнанието на Гарет, за да му помогне за мисията.

Най-голямата сила на Алексей Пехов е мрачната и тайнствена атмосфера, която кара читателя да притаи дъх в очакване. Липсата на дълги и подробни описания, заменени с различни метафори и епитети правят текста много по-приятен за четене. Тази атмосфера обаче не присъства в цялата история.

Читателите не биха си изгубили времето с прочита на тази книга, тя не е една от най-добрите в своя жанр - фентъзи (Epic Fantasy, High Fantasy и Dark Fantasy), но има какво, въпреки всичко, да задържи интереса им до края на книгата.
Profile Image for Anna.
12 reviews4 followers
December 23, 2014
Я влюбилась. Вот честное слово! Как же он хорошо пишет. Я была в восторге от "Пересмешника", но к нему я достаточно долго привыкала, уж очень неспешно все начиналось. Хотя сейчас бы, наоборот, полюбила бы его еще больше именно за неспешность, очешуенно разработанный мир, детализацию, факты, чувства... Эх... :heart::heart::heart:. "Крадущийся в тени" - первая книга из серии "Хроники Сиалы". Книга тоже начинается довольно неспешно, по-тихоньку вводя нас в курс дела, немного шуток-прибауток, юмора Гаррета, великолепного стиля Пехова, эльфов, магов, королей, шутов, гоблинов, гномов, богов и... Вы влюблены в историю, мир и от книги вас не оторвать. Как вы думаете, что я делала, когда нужно было готовиться к очень сложному зачету? Правильно, читала эту книгу. К зачету я тоже подготовил��сь и очень-очень успешно его сдала, но с каким трудом я оторвалась ради этого от мира Сиалы!.
Ближе к концу книги я стала ловить себя на мысли, что я даже полюбила описание боев��х действий, хотя обычно меня так и тянет пролистнуть всю эту тягомотину, а тут - одна из жемчужин. Но все-таки самым-самым смаком в книге для меня стали флеш-беки-сны-воспоминания-видения да-да, я ничего не путаю о прошлом. Ух, как же я в них влюбилась. О эта история Сиалы!
Итого: как понять, что вы влюбились в книгу? 1. Вы хотите жить в мире книги (если это, конечно, не современная литература). 2. Главный герой книги - практически ваш лучший друг. Ну вы же понимаете о чем я, да? :shy: 3. Во время прочтения книги вы постоянно улыбаетесь, хихикаете, смеетесь в голос, а настроение поднимается как только книга у вас в руках. 4. Книга настолько хороша, что пока каждый читающий знакомый ее не прочитает - вы не успокоитесь. Самым лучшим нужно делиться. 5. Вам сниться книжный мир. :nope: 6. Вы в восторге даже от промежуточных героев. 7. Наша сторона идет к победе! Без пощады!!!!!

P.S. Только что узнала, что Алексею Пехову всего 36 лет!!! Сколько же еще нас ждет великолепных книг, вышедших из-под его пера!
P.S.2 Он еще и стоматолог. Ортодонт. :heart::heart::heart: Мисье Пехов, я ваш фанат.
Profile Image for Justin.
79 reviews29 followers
February 15, 2010
I enjoyed Alexey Pehov’s Shadow Prowler very much, but I would not recommend it to everyone. Obviously, our own Stefan didn’t like it (see below), but I have some specific reasons why I did. I’ll do my best to explain so that you, dear reader, can decide whether or not Shadow Prowler is for you.

First let me mention that the author, Alexey Pehov, is Russian and that Shadow Prowler has been beautifully translated by Andrew Bloomfield (he also did the Nightwatch series). I think the translation played a role in some of the quirkiness of the descriptions and names.

Shadow Harold is a master thief who lives from contract to contract in the capital city of Avendoom. The story truly starts when Harold, somewhat unwillingly, takes a contract of the highest importance. The greatest of thieves has been tasked with obtaining an item from an impossible location. A nameless wizard is building a force just beyond a weakening magical barrier. The item Harold must retrieve is the one thing that may be able to keep the evil army at bay.

Harold is joined by a coalition of races who deem it in their best interest to assist him. Pehov took classical races and gave them his individual style. There are shamanistic Dark Elves, beardless Dwarves, hyper-active Goblins, and Wizards prone to colossal failure. I found each character charming, and they all hinted at more depth to come in later books.

Shadow Prowler is classic epic high fantasy which uses common fantasy characters – elfin princesses, cantankerous dwarves, burly warriors, and even a selection of enigmatic wizards. This fact alone will be enough to turn off some readers. Add in the fact that they are on a quest for a unique magical item in order to stop a faceless evil wizard and his army, and that just might be all you need to know to give Shadow Prowler a pass (see Stefan’s review below for his opinion). I, however, enjoyed how Pehov turned these classic themes into an enjoyable story with its own unique personality.

My biggest complaint is that most of the story is spent getting to know the characters and in preparation for the quest, so I was disappointed that Shadow Prowler ends not long after the actual journey begins.

Profile Image for William Bentrim.
Author 64 books66 followers
March 2, 2010
Shadow Prowler by Alexey Pehov

Pehov may be well known in his native Russia but I had never heard of him until I read this book. I think the quality of this book will insure that Pehov will be known far and wide as well as in Russia. Shadow Harold, a master thief, finds himself enmeshed with the establishment to save the world as they know it.

Shadow Harold is an enjoyable rogue. Harold is a master thief of exceptional skill and a healthy interest in avoiding heroics. Pulled into quest to avoid the doom precipitated by The Nameless One, Harold finds himself surrounded by highly unlikely allies. The interplay between the allies, their likes, dislikes and individual peccadilloes provides both amusement and tension. Pehov provides suitable mystery and excellent action.

I highly recommend the book and am looking forward to the sequel.

Profile Image for Grack21.
154 reviews37 followers
August 21, 2014
This is the worst book I have ever encountered in my life, and this is from a man who read the first 11 Sword of Truth Novels and the first two Runelord books. There are no words to describe this thing.

Let me put it this way:

I'd rather listen to Robert STanek narrate Twilight while rabid wolves devour my testicles.
Profile Image for edifanob.
613 reviews55 followers
May 31, 2010
Shadow Prowler is definitely a book which you either love or hate.
I read several mixed reviews about the book before.
After reading it by myself I must say I liked it very much.
It is traditional fantasy. I can't wait to read the sequel.

Full review in progress ...
Profile Image for Jeff Powers.
695 reviews3 followers
December 8, 2022
A dark lord. Elves, orcs, dwarves. Misguided magic and an elusive powerful artifact. We've seen it all before...but not quite like this. Russian author, Pehov, takes the tropes of epic fantasy and twists them just enough to make them feel new again. A good translation can make or break a book, and Andrew Bloomfield (who also worked on the Night Watch series) does an excellent job of balancing fantastic action with lighthearted moments and memorable characters. It reminded me a bit of the Witcher books but with a slight tongue in cheek sense of humor. The main character is a thief who never expected to be a hero and is just trying his best to keep a head on his shoulders. Lots of promise for the series. Fair warning though, there is no solid story arc structure in this first volume, so don't go in expecting anything to be wrapped up in the first book. It literally leaves you mid-scene as if the larger story was arbitrarily broken up into books. But that is often par for the course in fantasy. Recommended for fans of Kings of the Wyld or classic rpg fantasy.
October 28, 2021
Aanrader van Lukas. Russische fanstasyreeks. Vlot geschreven verhaal, maar niet heel verrassend. Een paar dagen ziek zijn laat het lezen wel vooruit gaan 😁
Profile Image for Blodeuedd Finland.
3,438 reviews295 followers
March 24, 2010
Shadow Prowler
The Chronicles of Siala, book 1

Genre: Fantasy
Published: UK April 2010 Simon &Schuster
Pages: 400

After centuries of calm, the Nameless One is stirring.

An army is gathering; thousands of giants, ogres, and other creatures are joining forces from all across the Desolate Lands, united, for the first time in history, under one black banner. By the spring, or perhaps sooner, the Nameless One and his forces will be at the walls of the great city of Avendoom.

Unless Shadow Harold, master thief, can find some way to stop them.

Epic fantasy at its best, Shadow Prowler is the first in a trilogy that follows Shadow Harold on his quest for a magic Horn that will restore peace to the Kingdom of Siala. Harold will be accompanied on his quest by an Elfin princess, Miralissa, her elfin escort, and ten Wild Hearts, the most experienced and dangerous fighters in their world…and by the king’s court jester (who may be more than he seems…or less).

I love fantasy, I have said it before and I will say it again. it is my true love. So when I read on twitter about Simon and Schuster looking for reviewers for this book I jumped at the chance. And I was not disappointed.

This book and series is very popular in Russia and has now been translated into English. For that I am grateful. This is great epic fantasy and just what I like to read.

It is the story about Shadow Harold, a thief in Avedoom, the capital of a Northern kingdom. He lives his lief like he always have when things suddenly change. he has two choices, get the horn or rut in jail. The choice is not as easy as it seems. The horn is hidden far away in caves filled with dangers and magics from different races that have buried their dead there. With him he has an elite band of warriors, a Princess, and a jester.
This world has all sorts of races, the elves (dark and light) who are not as fair looking as you would imagine. Orcs that wants the world for their own as they are the first race of Siala. Ogres, gnomes, goblins, dwarves and of course men. In the far north there is the danger of the Nameless one, but there are more dangers than just him stirring. This world is heading for a war, and this time the orcs might just win.

I liked Harold, but then I do have a soft spot for thieves and assassins. He is an unwilling hero, and they are the best. But my fav is by far the jester Kli-Kli, a goblin who is more than he seems. And I can't wit to see what he really is about, until then I will laugh in amusement. Miralissa, the princess most be some sort of love interest, cos Harold is interested, fangs and all. But I just haev to wait and see. The wild hearts are a great bunch too, the constant bickering between the dwarf and the gnome being what i enjoy the most.

Negative part, I love maps, and there was no map. I like to see where everything is located, and where they are going. It gives me a sense of direction that is useful in fantasy. But I am well aware that many forget about those maps.

This had everything I need, a quest, danger of war, and war that is surely coming, a bunch of characters that are both amusing and likable. There was danger, there was darkness, and there was history. Which I of course always want.

Now, oh sighs, why didn't I take that course in Russian in high school instead of German. If I would have I could have read the next book in Russian. Now I just have to wait to get hold of book 2 whenever that one comes out. Because this was a good start to a fantasy trilogy, and it made me want more.

Blodeuedd's cover corner: What can I say, it looks like fantasy so I like it
Reason for Reading: Review copy from the publisher
Final thoughts: I do want to read more Pehov, and especially the next book in the series.

Profile Image for Ана Хелс.
806 reviews80 followers
May 3, 2020
Ако любовта ви към фентъзито се е зародила някогаж покрай игрите и Толкин – може би най-класическата зарибяваща комбинация, отнесла в меките си прегръдки хиляди поклонници на красивата невъзможност наречена фантазия за пораснали деца, то Пехов е определно вашият избор за нова любима поредица. В центъра стои най-симпатичният, хлевоуст, безразсъден крадец, живеещ на равни порции чудовищен късмет и тотална липса на малшанс, както се изразяват някои футбололюбци, докато му се налага да се справя с орди тъповати, но компенсиращи с отявлена жестокост интелектуалната си и физическа грозота демони, киселяшки елфи, твърде амбициозни магьосници, почитащи кървавите забавления орки, и каквото там друго му пресече пътя – как толкова много същества искат да светят маслото на нашия иначе толкова симпатичен престъпник, идея си нямам. И естествено – светът може да бъде спасен само от него.

Признавам, това е поредица – клише, като клише на клишетата и затова превъзходна във всяко едно отношение, попиваща всички канони, използваща всички очаквания и оправдаваща ги по най-радващия начин. Битки – тук, магии – тук, заплаха върху света от древна, почти космическа величина – тук. Свежо чувство за хумор – тук, добро сърце в комбинация с неутолима жажда за пакости и приключения – тук. Верни до гроб приятели – тук, упорити до смърт врагове – тук. Дълги куестове през тъмници и подземия – колкото ти душа иска. Кръв и чревца – оха. Любов – ами, не. Мда, само това няка�� ще ви залипсва, че няма реална, стройна любовна история, която да мотивира героите. Тук целите са малко по-мащабни – като да не излязат древни същества, очевидно далечни братовчеди на Лъвкратианските кошмари, и да изпият кръвчицата на всичко мърдащо и жизнеспособно. Епично? Май това е една поредиците, за които това определение си е съвсем на място.

Поредицата може да бъде прочетена във фенски превод на онова място, което много се срамят да казват, че посещават – великата Читанка. За мен това е единственият начин да чета на руски, за съжаление няколко години не ми достигнаха да добия задължителните познания по русофилство и лелеяната червена връзка. Та Пехов е вторият разкошен руски автор след Алекс Кош, с който можете да се запознаете само в полето на забранените книги, и ще затвърдите мнението си, че там на изток всъщност има доста по-интересни фентъзийци, отколкото в по-западните ширини. И се чудя при всичките обвинения в русофилство насам – натам, защо няма повече истинско руско фентъзи извън бащицата Лукяненко. Прекрасно забавление без претенция за висша литература, но с желязна гаранция за отпускащо приключение и цветни сънища със седмици наред.
Profile Image for Kayanna Kirby.
Author 2 books10 followers
March 29, 2010
The Good

Shadow Prowler is an epic fantasy trilogy written in first person detailing a professional thief, Shadow Harold's reluctant acceptance and beginning trek to save his Country from an evil that promises to annihilate humans existence on earth. whew! That is the book in a nutshell. Shawdow Prolwer is action packed from beginning to end. It takes place in a time and period similar to The Lord of the Rings. I got a real "Middle Earth" type of feeling. It was northern as it was cold more than it wasn't. There is almost every type of creature in shawdow Prowler. Ogres, Orcs, demons, ghosts, etc. The only thing that's not around are Vampires or werewolves.

You are told the story through Harold's life, but when you need to know something that Harold couldn't possibly know, the author makes Harold have out of body experiences so you the reader would know. These out of body experiences were an integral part of the story even if they seem a little convenient.

There were many instances where I re-read a sentence because it sounded really good. Some of the language flows really nicely. Shawdow Prowler is not a Literary book in my opinion but it flows like literature in some spots which is nice. I think there would be more, but I think some things were lost in translation.

The Bad

This book was translated to English from Russian and they made for a few quirks in the book. The names of streets or people are unusual. For example there is a person name "For" when reading it can throw you off. Other that the fact that this seemed like a standard epic fantasy, you know, middle earth, pending evil, suicide journey of a commoner to get an object to quell the evil that is imminent, it read nicely. lol. Towards the end, I was just trying to finish. I didn't want to put the book down until I finished although I got a little bored and the book felt drawn out. I would say things felt a little predictable.


Shawdow Prowler is a well written epic fantasy book that has heavy undertones of the Lord the The Ring Trilogy (movie, I didn't read any of the books). If you like the Lord of the Rings, you will like Shawdow Prolwer.
Profile Image for Stephen.
29 reviews2 followers
October 28, 2012
First, a warning: this is book one of a trilogy, and is in no way a standalone work. That said, this book is okay, but not great. It does suffer from being translated: I read this book in English, while it was written in Russian. The translation surely removed some of the author's own writing style. As for the plot - the book's back cover calls it a "truly unique novel". I didn't see that. Shadow Prowler appears to be another version of the Lord of the Rings, of the sort that's filled fantasy literature for so long. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but you shouldn't expect anything particularly new.

The plot itself is of the unlikely-hero-forced-to-retrieve-magical-artifact-to-defeat-evil-overlord kind, although there are promises of a third party's involvement which could make later books more interesting. I was bothered by a couple of the background events. Our hero's quest appears to only be necessary because previous generations did suicidally stupid things, apparently with the sole motivation of making life difficult for their descendants. It severely strained my suspension of disbelief. I wish we could have gotten reasons for what they did beyond "the author made me do it".

In conclusion, despite the fact that Shadow Prowler ended on a cliffhanger, I am not planning to read the next two books in the series. I do find myself curious about the nature and motives of this mysterious third party, but not enough to read on.
Profile Image for Sergei_kalinin.
451 reviews165 followers
January 22, 2016
Вот как-то очень заурядно и шаблонно :(((. Хотя, м.б. для 2002 года (когда книга была издана впервые), это и добротное фэнтези.

А так всё очень предсказуемо: ГГ - вор (с типовым набором скиллов :)), которого конечно же впутывают в свои политические игры могущественные силы. Конечно, никто кроме вора не может добыть крайне важный артефакт. Разумеется, путь за этим артефактом долог и полон опасностей, и в этот путь конечно же направляется сборная команда людей и не-людей (также с типовыми наборами скиллов :)). Их подстерегают типовые враги; они слушают у костра типовые легенды и славных подвигах прошлого; одни не-люди шутят над другими не-людьми и т.д. и т.п. Короче, как будто снова "Властелина колец" пересмотрел :))).

Сам фантазийный мир, созданный автором, также очень "ровный" - в нём нет ничего нового и оригинального. Разве что иногда автор слегка подтрунивает над имеющимися фэнтези-штампами (вроде того, что эльфийки особенно красивы, а орки глупее людей). Но дальше лёгкой иронии дело не идёт, ничего своего автор в жанр не привносит :(.

Если честно, то где-то с середины книги я просто заскучал :((. Типичное такое чтиво, чтобы убить время. Продолжение читать не буду точно. Мааааленький такой плюсик автору лишь за то, что словом он владеет неплохо; стиль/язык книги вполне приличные (для фэнтези).

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