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"All things are formed of patterns..." And within the pattern of the realm of Alorin, three strands must cross: In Alorin... three hundred years after the genocidal Adept Wars, the realm is dying, and the blessed Adept race dies with it. One man holds the secret to reverting this decline: Bjorn van Gelderan, a dangerous and enigmatic man whose shocking betrayal three centuries past earned him a traitor's brand. It is the Adept Vestal Raine D'Lacourte's mission to learn what Bjorn knows in the hope of salvaging his race. But first he'll have to find him. In the kingdom of Dannym... the young Prince Ean val Lorian faces a tenuous future as the last living heir to the coveted Eagle Throne. When his blood-brother is slain during a failed assassination, Ean embarks on a desperate hunt for the man responsible. Yet his advisors have their own agendas, and his quest for vengeance leads him ever deeper into a sinuous plot masterminded by a mysterious and powerful man, the one they call First Lord. In the Nadori desert...tormented by the missing pieces of his life, a soldier named Trell heads off to uncover the truth of his shadowed past. But when disaster places him in the debt of Wildlings sworn to the First Lord, Trell begins to suspect a deadlier, darker secret motivating them. Honor-bound to serve the First Lord in return for his life, Trell continues on his appointed path, yet each day unveils new and stranger secrets that eventually call into question everything he knows.

654 pages, Paperback

First published September 22, 2010

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About the author

Melissa McPhail

8 books1,212 followers
Melissa McPhail is the author of the best-selling epic fantasy series A Pattern of Shadow & Light. She's the mother of twin girls who think boys in books are just better, and the adoptive mother to four very large cats who basically rule the roost; and while she can never leave the house in one attempt, she's pretty darn good at spinning a tale. She's also a classically trained pianist, violinist and composer, a Vinyasa yoga instructor, and an avid tea drinker.

Melissa's fantasy series has won eight best fantasy awards and (even more importantly to her) a fiercely devoted following. She is known for being an engaged author on social media and welcomes your thoughts on her work, the speculative fiction genre or writing in general.

Look for Melissa on Twitter @melissagmcphail, Facebook at facebook.com/cephraelshand or via her website and blog at melissamcphail.com.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 352 reviews
Profile Image for Kitty G Books.
1,548 reviews2,934 followers
April 6, 2017
A solid read that I picked up purely based on the audible recommendation and one or two people mentioning it was good. It's a self-published read, but it feels well paced and although it starts off slow the drama and intensity builds once you know who's who.

This is the story of three vastly different people and what happens when their paths cross.

There is the old ancient race of the Adepts who are a slowly dying race with just Bjorn as the man who may somehow save them. Led by Raine, we are attempting to uncover the mysteries and intricacies of the race and the reasons it may be dying out and how to reverse the effects.
Although I liked the ideas in this storyline it was probably the slowest for me in terms of action and interest. By the end of the book I was into it, but at first it was a slow burn.

Then we have Ean, the last prince who is the last heir to the Eagle Throne and seeks to avenge the early death of his blood brother after an assassination attempt. Ean is young and yet he is key to many of the games currently being wagered in his Kingdom and when his return home is bombarded with assassination attempts, distrust and death he ends up many miles from where he wished to be.
I definitely found Ean's story to be a solid one and I liked being able to learn a lot more about the magic of the world through his (and Alyneri's) eyes.

Finally we have Trell, a young soldier who is seeking answers about who he is and where he's from. Trell has little memory before he woke up on the shores and was taken in and trained by the Desert people, but there's certainly more to him than even he knows and his journey helps him to discover some of that.
I found myself really enjoying Trell's story right from the start and although I think it's a fairly slow beginning for all three of the major characters, I think Trell interested me the most from the start :)

Some other characters I really enjoyed included:
Carian - a pirate who reminds me greatly of the character of Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of Carribean (a fave character of mine). He's silly and rude and charming and lewd and he won't take anything for granted or as impossible.
Tanis - a young truth-reader in training who is learning the ropes and the ways of the world. In particular there was once scene where Tanis is curiously asking a bunch of questions about how haggling works in a market and a grouchy guard is answering him and I loved the raw curiosity and honesty in this scene. Maybe it would feel unnecessary for some, but for me it made the whole moment feel totally real as though this was a genuine conversation a young boy may have with someone considered a role model to him.

The magic within this world is all based around patterns. There are five different strings of magic and different people can use different strands. We know when the book starts that there are fewer fifth-strand magic weilders than the others strands, and we alos learn a lot more about the various uses and qualities over the course of the book.
We also have Shades and Zanthers and healers who are vital to the workings of this story. These different types of people are both wacky and wonderful becuase it fleshes out the magic feeling and makes the story seem more involved. I particularly liked the idea of people's souls being strands of pattern woven together into unique designs and healers being the ones who have to patch up and mend these patterns if people are injured.
There are Sundragons! and Shapeshifters and they're PRETTY cool :)
There are many things I really liked about the magic within this story, I just would have liked to see a little table or key in the physical book to show you exactly what's what so you didn't have to remember every one.

The pacing and style of this feels a little slow at first but by halfway I was super into it and really loving the cast and plot. I am definitely eager to continue on, and I would class this as a High Fantasy becuase of the sheer amount of magic used and thwarted in the story.

Overall a fantastic start to what promises to be a very solid series. I am looking forward to the next one a lot and I can's wait to give that one a try asap! This one gets 4*s and I'd highly recommend the audio version! :)
Profile Image for Brent.
11 reviews4 followers
March 20, 2015
I wanted to like this book, and in the beginning, I really did. And I suppose, I liked it more than I disliked it. The story had so much potential in the beginning, but ultimately, it succumbed to too many "deus ex machina" moments. These moments seemed to be added simply to have an "action" sequence. Examples include sudden evil lords of cities intervening for reasons that didn't serve the plot. A little over half-way through, the main characters (whose story lines all came together, for the most part) arrive in a city where an evil lord starts mingling. We'd previously never heard of this city nor this lord and his motivations were explained in an all too brief foreshadow paragraph of dread. It just didn't work for me and seemed futile to the previously well laid story.

The good in this book:
1) The world building, particularly the history, is very good. I enjoyed the history and the Vestal's. I enjoyed the different races and cities.
2) Some of the characters, particularly Trell, were very enjoyable to read.
3) The foundation of the story is great.

The bad in this book:
1) As mentioned above, too many "deus ex machina" moments. Peter Jackson screwed up the Hobbit movies by adding too many moments to simply have an action/suspense scene. This book does the same. Pointless action sequences seemed to detract from moments that would have been great for further character/plot building.
2) This book, being self-published, needed a better editor. Typos run rampant (Sebastian and Senastian are frequently interchanged and for a while I thought I was reading about 2 different characters). Additionally, the author's voice switches from a Tolkien-esque "epic" voice to contemporary speaking. It gets distracting.
3) The women in this book are ANNOYING. Alyneri is insufferable. The queen is considered "annoying and meddling" (even though we never see evidence to support this, especially considering a plot-twist involving a conspiracy that redeems her from this meddling occurs about half-way through happens before we ever get a chance to distrust her other than a sentence saying we should). From a female author, I expected the women to be less of fantasy tropes than they were.

And finally, a note on self-published books. I guess most of my disdain for this book comes into play here. To explain: I purchased this book after seeing an ad for it in my facebook feed. I immediately checked goodreads and amazon and saw a high-star rating and many glowing reviews. I thought, "great, a highly praised new series!" I immediately added them to my wish-list on Amazon and received all three as a Christmas present. I was so so excited to read them. And then my disappointment continued to grow. I feel a little like a victim of a marketing campaign. I love to support new authors and have read many self-published books, but the reviews on these sites seem to be paid endorsements or family and friends trying to help a friend out.

Ultimately, this book has the foundation to support great reviews. It kind of falls apart as you move further into it, which was a let-down. Is it worth reading? Sure. Is it great? No. Could it be great with a few edits and trimmings and expansions? Absolutely. And I think a publisher should take interest in these books and this writer and help tailor these books to match their potential. Will I read the sequels? Perhaps at some point. But in the meantime, there's lots of other stuff on my to-read list that I need to sink my teeth into.

In closing, keep an eye on this author. She has real talent and it was wonderful to read high fantasy written by a woman. But these books would do much better with some heavy revision and editing. Perhaps this will happen, and I would be more than eager to continue the series if that happens.
Profile Image for Scott  Hitchcock.
779 reviews221 followers
November 26, 2016

I generally hate when an ad for a book begins, fan of WOT, GOT, Stormlight Archives..........will love this book. Usually they're nothing like said iconic book of the genre. In this case however I think you like Wheel of Time you'll like this and if you don't then don't bother. Alyneri provides the braid pulling female you want to throttle.

The book has similarities to WOT but isn't in lockstep with it and definitely has a desert/Middle Eastern feel which I really liked. I also enjoyed some of the characters being of questionable but not necessarily evil character. My biggest complaint was characters interaction always seemed to end with a sentence like "He glanced at her with a look of admiration" or "She looked at him with a sense of awe". After a while it gets a bit repetitive.

This was an audio book. The narrator was good.
Profile Image for Mark.
409 reviews65 followers
August 12, 2016
Well if this wasn't a well written and entertaining epic fantasy story I just don't know what is. I've been reading a lot of indie fantasy books as of late and Cephreal's Hand is the crowning jewel of these.

Excellent world building, magic system, characters and story. This book is everything an epic fantasy book should be and well over 600 enjoyable pages!

There does seem to be way too many POV characters at times though and it can be a trifle overwhelming. There are three main POVs, six to nine secondary POVs and another four or five tertiary POVs. It's quite a lot but we'll worth it once you get your bearings. All with the exception of Alyneri whose character still leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. As a protagonist, one expects to like and root for her but she was so bitchy and counter productive at times that I wished her character a quick and horrible death. With the books conclusion this wish may come to pass in book two.

One last POV gripe. There didn't seem to be enough of the best main POV in the book: Trell of the Tides. Easily the most interesting character with the least amount of story. More Trell, less Alyneri. On to book two!

Profile Image for Raina {The LUV'NV}.
211 reviews41 followers
August 5, 2014

Find the full review on The LUV'NV blog, here.

I am inspired and yet don't know where to start. Rarely do I come across a book that fills me with such zeal and I'm convinced the whole world needs to read it. I can count four. After reading Cephrael's Hand—no, after reading Cephrael's Hand and The Dagger of Adendigaeth , the first two books of A Pattern of Shadow & Light series, I can count six. Shocking, since I'm rather picky about Epic Fantasy.

Melissa McPhail created a world unlike any other in fiction but also not unlike our own, where individualism and unity exist all at once; good and evil coincide, are intertwined, and vary in shades; and philosophy, mundane and profound, shape lives. With her debut novel, she captured a whole world—from its physical base to its ethereal heavens, and everything tangible and intangible between, before known time and (hopefully) not its "after."

Cephrael's Hand is full of universal truths, a wide-ranged cast of lovable characters both good and evil, and the most believable, thoroughly thought-out world I've stumbled into. Melissa McPhail set a new bar for Epic Fantasy with her debut.

An ambitious, highly entertaining adventure that is also thought-provoking and discussion-worthy—if there's a series you read next year, make it A Pattern of Shadow & Light, starting with Cephrael's Hand.

A huge thank-you to Novel Publicity and Melissa McPhail for the ebook copy. It truly is an amazing story that I'll be reading again.
Profile Image for Ron.
Author 1 book135 followers
April 20, 2013
Good world building and story telling, but I never really cared about the main characters. Too much detail about too many minor characters. Also too many modern American cliches--knocks the reader out of the classical mood of the story. Not to mention the many arched eye brows and bit lower lips.

map in ebook edition useless.
Profile Image for Chip.
444 reviews52 followers
December 22, 2016
I'm adding this warning as I read book 3 in the series as the series has taken a much darker tone than it began with. Do not get hooked on this series if reading scenes of torture / sexual violence are not something you are comfortable reading. It is not worse than what you would read in Game of Thrones. In retrospect, this series has moved much closer to George RR Martin with a touch of Michael J Sullivan.

Characters: 5*
Universe/World Building: 4.8*
Plot: 4.9*

Before I read this book, I had never heard of Melissa McPhail. If you like high fantasy and fantastic world building and have not heard of her either, you should correct this now. How would I describe her writing? The closest author I can think of would be Michael J. Sullivan. They both excel in writing characters that you care about and in fully fleshing out the universe of the book. If you haven't read any of Michael J. Sullivan's books, do that too. I'm not sure if I can continue to be your friend if you don't. If you need another author to compare Melissa to, I'd say George R.R. Martin, but not nearly as dark.

I don't know how this book got onto my reading list, but I am incredibly glad that it did.

Characters: 5*
The characters are complex and the develop throughout the book. They are not infallible. They do not spring into being fully made. They grow. They develop. They are good. They are evil. They are complex. There may be a few one-dimensional supporting characters, but the main characters (another similarity with Michael J. Sullivan) are plentiful and rewarding.

World/Universe: 4.8*
I'm being nitpicky here. This world is fabulous. It directly impacts the story in so many ways. Ways that I do not yet see. That is my only nitpick. I want to absorb every piece of this universe. Now. I want to know the behind the scenes. I want to understand how it really works. Yeah, this is 5* too. I'm just not able to read this series fast enough.

Plot: 4.9*
I love the plot of this story. It unfolds slowly and in directions you do not anticipate. It is extremely complex, but yet straightforward in how it unfolds. The author must have flowcharts covering the entire wall of her writing room to keep this straight. Plots start out separately, then come together, then branch out.

Overall? 5*. I can't wait to keep reading.
Profile Image for Geoffery Crescent.
151 reviews5 followers
December 17, 2014
I was given a copy of this book in exchange for some promotion, which you can see over here --> http://sauteedpotatoesandonions.blogs... I couldn't actually finish the novel though. In the prologue the author mentions someone has dark blue eyes multiple times in TWO pages, which is a bit ridiculous. Then she quickly kills off someone who seems like they would have been a supporting character, probably to prove the book is, you know, gritty (bleaurgh....) or that the enemy are ruthless, but it seem gratuitous and rushed. If you're going to quickly kill off a character, give them some sort of depth so I feel for them, GRRM style! The main character is far too much of a posh pretty boy for me to really care about his journey. It also took three chapters to introduce a female character that wasn't lying supine with a nipple exposed for her man's pleasure and when she finally pops up she's an irritating 'rebellious princess' archetype. I tried really hard to like this book when it's clear that so much effort has gone into it, with its lengthy glossary of terms and beautiful map. But it just didn't do it for me.
Profile Image for Brandon Lindsay.
Author 9 books31 followers
April 16, 2012
I read quite a bit and normally I read several books at once. When I started reading Cephrael's Hand, however, I had to put everything else aside until I found out how it all wrapped up.

Cephrael's Hand is a big book that takes place in big world, but it isn't overwhelming like certain other fantasy doorstoppers. Each character is likable and interesting, and each plot thread is connected to all the others--and thus actually matters. There are no wasted words or filler scenes. Even though it is a big book, it moves along briskly. A sense of purposeful motion fills every page.

I'm a big style snob and it's difficult to impress me, but Ms. McPhail's prose was at once graceful yet accessible, artistic yet transparent, which is that perfect balance that I always strive to find in a book. Every description is vivid yet never bogs down the pace. Again, her prose pulls you through the story and doesn't ever let go.

I could go on about all the other cool aspects of the book (the interesting magic system, the various unique races, etc.), but let me sum it all up for you: read this book. If you're in the market for good, engaging fantasy, then Cephrael's Hand is for you. I heartily recommend it, and also look forward to the next installment in the series.
Profile Image for Ryan.
63 reviews24 followers
July 15, 2019
so much arched eyebrow and biting of lower lip! like every other sentence. cool book worth reading. needs an editor who cares.
Profile Image for  ♥♥Mari♥♥ .
130 reviews95 followers
September 13, 2014
(Reviewer's Note: I received a paperback copy of this book from the author, in exchange for an honest review.

This novel is an incredibly detailed tapestry of characters and events, laid out in a book of truly epic proportions. The various plots are like strands of elae, McPhail's name for the magical energy underlying the universe in her novel, and a totally unique concept in the fantasy genre.

Like a wielder of this energy, McPhail weaves these plots together to create a multi-faceted, yet unified whole. The result makes for some totally fascinating reading!

For me, the three most compelling characters are Ean val Lorian, Prince of the Kingdom of Dannym, Trell of the Tides, who has until recently been in service to the Emir Zafir bin Safwan, and Alyneri d'Giverny, Adept Healer and Duchess of Aracine, who has been, much to her disgust, romantically linked to the very charming Ean. Indeed, these three are the pivotal characters in this monumental tapestry, even though others, like the Fourth Vestal, Raine D'laCourte, and the Fifth, Bjorn van Gelderan, would seem much more important.

Ean and Trell are both courageous, fierce warriors when the need arises, but are also kind and compassionate, almost to a fault. As for Alyneri, I greatly admire her determination to travel and live independently, pursuing her own healing interests without interference. However, she can't help but feel an attraction to Ean, although she hotly denies it. A phrase by Shakespeare comes to mind here: "The lady doth protest too much, methinks."

Another wonderful character is the young Truthreader, Tanis. He's very naive because he's still so young; however, he's quick to act when necessary, as when poor Alyneri is almost kidnapped by the very arrogant Ianthe d'Jesune val Rothschen, the Marchioness of Wynne, who has decided that Alyneri is not behaving like a 'proper' young lady. I also love how Tanis hero-worships Prince Ean.

I really must mention Fynnlar val Lorian, Ean's cousin. What a funny character! He provides very witty comic relief throughout the novel; he's proud of his image as an incorrigible rogue, although this facade hides a heart of gold. It would embarrass him for others to find out, however....

The world-building is just as intricate, and well-thought out, as is the plotting. McPhail's fertile imagination has conjured up a whole collection of creatures and races, beginning with the Adepts, who are people born with the ability to sense and use one of the strands of the mysterious elae. These magically talented individuals are overseen by Vestals, Adepts entrusted with the enforcement of the rules and activities of the particular strands of elae they are talented in. There are five such strands, so there is a Vestal for each, and each strand embodies a different facet of elae.

Other fascinating creatures are the Drachwyr, who can shapeshift into dragons, the Zanthyrs, who are also shapeshifters that can take different animal forms, Wildlings, Adepts of the third strand, who may or may not have supernatural abilities, and the formidable, very intriguing Shades, who seem to be part human, and part machine. There are also beings known as the Malorin'athgul, created by the Maker (Creator) for the purpose of 'unmaking' the universe at its fringes, even as it continues to expand at its center.

Then there are the races, some of which are loosely based on the races of Earth. For instance, the people of the Akkad Emirates are definitely very similar to Arabs, from their names and lifestyles to their desert gods. Others are clearly similar to Nordic groups such as the Vikings, and there is even a group of islands known as "Jamaii", which is a clear reference to Jamaica, while the Kingdom of Veneisea reminds me of Venice, Italy. There are French references, as well, with a land known as Vienne-Sur-Le-Valle, and some of the characters speak a language strangely akin to French.

McPhail has created her own fascinating mythology, as well, especially with the desert gods. My own favorite is Naiadithine, the Goddess of Water, who takes a special interest in Trell. Cephrael, the Maker's son, has been immortalized in a constellation, named "Cephrael's Hand"; hence the book's title.

The author has included a very helpful glossary, as well as two maps, at the beginning of the book. Also included is a detailed list of all the characters, which also encompasses the gods.

One of the book's most intriguing concepts is that of Balance. This refers to the force of cause and effect that is present in the laws of the universe created by the author. Adepts are constantly debating how far their magical manipulations can push the strands of elae in one direction or another, before Balance is disrupted, which will have drastic consequences for those working the strands. I see this as a subtle reference to the need for ecological balance in our world.

The puzzle of the slow disappearance of magic in the realm of Alorin, which encompasses all of the above-named lands and kingdoms, is the novel's main theme. After the Adept Wars, fewer and fewer Adepts are either Returning (a rebirth after death), or coming into their unique talents. Without Adepts to work with elae, Alorin cannot thrive....

Conspiracies and treacheries abound, and Prince Ean is mysteriously important to someone who wants him captured, but for what purpose? And yet, potential assassins surround him.... Meanwhile, the traitor Bjorn must be found, so that he doesn't succeed in whatever nefarious plans he has for Alorin and its people.

This novel is indeed a monumental achievement, a feat of the imagination! It's a spellbinding journey into a world of perils and wonders, compellingly drawn characters, and even political intrigue. Although at times the action slows down, it then picks up again, and the reader is swept into another mystery, another political intrigue, and the battle of wills between the good and evil characters in the book.

There are so many things to love about this novel! From the very first pages of the book, the reader is plunged into this world in which the currents of Fate, as well as those of magic, will be sure to propel said reader along, until the final page is turned! Fantasy fans, prepare to be delighted and totally immersed in this unique, magical universe!

For more of my reviews, please visit my blog, A NIGHT’S DREAM OF BOOKS.


Profile Image for Charline Ratcliff.
Author 3 books214 followers
July 7, 2014
I always enjoy reading a good fantasy and even though my “free” time is limited and this book is a whopping six hundred and thirty-four pages I decided to read it. Just to let you know, “Cephrael’s Hand” is the first in the “A Pattern of Shadow & Light” series. In other words don’t expect this book and its tale to finish together and don’t expect to read it in one sitting…

So, there are three major parts interwoven throughout “Cephrael’s Hand.” First is the realm of Alorin. Alorin, and its Adept race, are dying because of a genocidal war that happened three hundred years earlier. Only Bjorn van Gelderan holds the knowledge to revert this decline but, unfortunately, he’s the same man who was branded a traitor for his heinous betrayals during those Adept Wars. Raine D’Lacourte, an Adept himself, has been charged with the saving of his race but to do so he must first locate Bjorn who isn’t really interested in being found…

Next we move on to the kingdom of Dannym where the sole surviving heir to the Eagle Throne, Prince Ean val Lorian, faces a tenuous and tempestuous future. Lorian’s blood-brother Creighton is slain during a failed assassination attempt against the Prince, and now Prince Lorian is determined to find the responsible party. His quest for justice leads him ever deeper into a sinuous plot masterminded by the one his people call “First Lord…”

Lastly we visit the Nadori desert and meet Trell, a well respected soldier, who has no recollection of his life before he came to be known as Trell of the Tides. As he heads off to try and uncover the mystery of his past disaster befalls him, placing him squarely in the debt of those who are sworn to serve the First Lord…

I finally finished “Cephrael’s Hand” and I have to say it was a fantastic read. It was interesting. It was well written and, believe it or not, it was descriptive without becoming verbose. I was pretty much on the edge of my seat as I read wondering what was going to happen next. Melissa McPhail is an extremely talented writer and she did a phenomenal job of cohesively winding these different strands together throughout “Cephrael’s Hand.”

Needless to say, I give “Cephrael’s Hand” a five-star rating and am anxiously awaiting the release of Book Two…

(Reviewed in association with Rebecca's Reads).
Profile Image for Jean-maxime.
3 reviews4 followers
November 7, 2013
While I did enjoy the read, I was extremely disappointed in this book. To be fair, it was mainly because I had huge expectations.

My main criticism is the seemingly forced epicness of the story. Most of the plot is meaningless. You could cut whole plot lines and not miss much at all. One plot line that has no baring on the story, and last the whole book, is Trell's. It's a shame, because Trell was by far my favorite character. Yet, the story would be exactly the same if he was cut altogether from the book. The "twist" wasn't well delivered at all either, making his existence questionable. Or maybe I wasn't meant to discover it when I did? I am not sure, it was obvious to me.

I was very annoyed with the "made-up" language in the book. If you're making up a new language, don't pick google-translated french.

The magic system is extremely confusing. Maybe that's a plus for some; trying to figure out what the hell is going on. Not for me.

Most of the characters were not very original. I did kinda like the pirate and the old lady. Both were pretty irrelevant to the story, unfortunately.
Profile Image for Lukas Ott.
1 review
April 26, 2012
Favorite book I've read. Hands down-no questions asked. The story is intricately woven and yet never boring, it is exciting and fast-paced and keeps you glued to the pages as. This book is written for anyone who loves a good read but if you find that you enjoy a carefully, intelligently written story this is a book for you!:)
Profile Image for Tony.
12 reviews
September 6, 2017
A few notes before I start. I am reviewing Cephrael's Hand but I have now finished all four books in the series. I did not, unlike so many others, receive a free copy of the book in order to write my review. I picked up the book through Audibles monthly credit and listened to Nick Poedhl's retelling. In fairness, I would listen to Nick read me last year's tax regulations and he is perhaps the only reason I got through all four books.

This is a story of editing and it highlights why it is so important. A good editor, as much as the author, can make the difference between an epic masterpiece and a dull, overly long and ultimately, flat piece of fiction. It is testament to Melissa McPhail's writings that this falls somewhere in the middle.

She certainly has more of a talent that most self-published authors these days and I look forward to seeing future works, particularly if she is picked up by a publishing house, but it feels as if there is some way to go before she reaches the quality of other authors in the genre. It suffers from many issues which could have been resolved by someone looking over it with a more critical eye.

Even without the rampant spelling mistakes which run through the printed copies, it's clear that a thorough re-read was required before release with many paragraphs using the same cliched statements repeatedly.

Every character either has "raven" or "cinnamon" hair. They raise "raven" brows at the start of so many sentences I began to wonder if people were suffering from some sort of nervous tick. In one scene Gwynleth's hair blows into Carian's face so many times that it goes beyond laughable and let us not get started on Phaedor's repeated throwing and catching of his dagger.

The book is plagued by writing errors like this all the way through, with characters changing positions in the scene, simply because Melissa lost place of where everyone was stood or sat and because, in truth, there is just too much going on.

So let us turn to the characters, many of which will be familiar to you. Let's make no mistake about this, many are simply taken from other novels or films and supplanted into this novel. They lack depth and play to the stereotypes of the genre. The heroes are all handsome and noble and clearly white. The villains mostly ugly and sneering and clearly of Arabian descent. The younger characters all sandy haired, the older characters all with dark hair, slightly greying at the temples.

Danym clearly represents England and the north. Venecia and Agossan, Italy and France respectively and then we throw in "the Danes", a juxtaposition of real world geographies thrown into otherwise borrowed settings. Incidentally, for the Game of Thrones fans, you'll find McPhails Eastwatch exactly where you'll find it on the map of Westeros.

The story is not one "heroes journey" but several and they intertwine fairly well. The lore and world building is very well considered and you can feel that the author just has a love of creating things. There's a very obvious redemption story but you'll see this coming the moment we are introduced to the character. There are several "twists" but again, you'll see them coming so far away you'll be shaking your head at how deeply everything is foreshadowed. Again, an editor would have said "Look, this is too obvious. Remove this scene".

And ultimately this is where fault lies. There are too many characters, many thrown in randomly with no development. There are too many plotlines. Too many obvious clues. Too many cliches. Too many mistakes. It all leaves the series feeling empty and long.

My advice would be to keep your eye out for future works by Melissa McPhail, but A Pattern of Light and Shadow, or Shadow and Light as it is sometimes referred to is best avoided.
Profile Image for Shelby M. (Read and Find Out).
572 reviews124 followers
June 27, 2018
This series has a lot of potential (which I don't think it quite lived up to in the first book). The ending was solid and interesting, but I had a hard time getting through the middle. This mostly felt like the setup for a (potentially) great series.
Profile Image for Julia Sarene.
1,231 reviews129 followers
Shelved as 'could-not-get-into'
April 7, 2021
Not rating this as I gave up on it about 20% (roughly 200 pages) through.

It is not a "bad book" and I am having a hard time to put my hand on why it didn't work for me. I just never got hooked. I cared for none of the characters, and the last 50 pages I found myself skimming instead of reading, just to "get it done". It seemed aside from a few scenes there just wasn't much happening, aside from people talking, and a lot of world building. I do not mind a deep world with complex informations and background. But here it didn't feel like a natural part of the book, more like random (to me sadly boring) information and names just spread through the book.

That is not at all why I am reading, it shouldn't be a chore. The writing was fluent enough though, and it's not like I found anything particularly annoying or disturbing, which is why I forgo a rating, this seems to simply not be my cup of tea.
Profile Image for Katie Doyle.
Author 7 books31 followers
January 11, 2013
Originally, I was going to do this review as an interview with one of the characters, but life got in the way and there is no way I have time to do so. Which leaves the basic type of review. It’s just as fun though, especially when talking about this book!

First, a warning. It’s long. It’s about 654 pages long. BUT – and this is key – you don’t know it. Here’s a scenario:

You’re sitting in your favorite spot, warm and cozy with your pajamas on and a book in your hand. You read. And you read. And read. And read. And you’re so into the book, you turn the page wanting to know what happens next and…

The book is finished.

You didn’t even realize you’d reached the end! That’s how good this book is. You want to keep reading right away because “WHAT’S GONNA HAPPEN NEXT????” Syndrome takes full effect.

Wanna know why this book is so good? I’ll tell you.

The world is vast and colorful and full of vibrant people. It’s far more than just background used to tell a story. The world, Alorin, is a key part of the story. Alorin is dying. The magic of the world, elea, is dying. And there’s a reason why. (No, I’m not going to tell you! You have to read it yourself!)

The characters have everything you want them to have. They are diverse and flawed and you feel as if you could reach out and touch them. Their trials and tribulations will make you laugh, cry, and jump up and down in victory right along with them.

If you do one thing this winter, I suggest you read Cephreal’s Hand.

I give it four stars!
Profile Image for S.M. Blooding.
Author 46 books583 followers
May 16, 2013
There were a lot of really GREAT things going on in this book! Seriously!

The setting, for me who absolutely LOVES setting, was spectacular!! I literally felt as though I’d been transported to this other world. There’s just so much political intrigue was in depth and fascinating. I love, love, loooooved the fact that it wasn’t written for easy reading. You really had to pay attention to what was going on in order to keep up with the happenings! There was so much lovely, lovely potential in this book!

However, the author needed a bit more help in the BETA and editing process. There were elements that weren’t as strong as they needed to be because the writing itself was weak. The concept was great, but the writing needed to be tweaked more. I’m not saying the writing was awful. FAR FROM IT! However, when I see an author who’s able to see a story of this magnitude, I expect a certain level writing caliber from them.

The skeleton of the story is there. The meat is there as well. It just needs refined, and when I say refined, I mean, quite literally, it just needs tweaked. A sentence here and there reworded. Using the right words in the correct context in the right sentence. Refining the pace because that was off.

Ms. McPhail, in my opinion has the potential to be GREAT!! This story had the potential to be PHENOMENAL! The story itself is really good! You should give it a try.
Profile Image for Noelle.
34 reviews5 followers
August 25, 2012
This book was good! No, it was better than good. As a matter of fact it was SUPERB! .... I cannot wait to start reading book 2 .... I am positive it will certainly not disappoint me.
Profile Image for Soo.
2,598 reviews255 followers
October 27, 2021

Remember how innocent teen dramas used to be? Now the teen soaps are more risqué. That's how I feel about this book. It's a risqué YA fantasy that is trying hard to be a regular 'adult' fantasy. There's some potential in core plot elements and a few of the characters. I was put off by the angsty inner turmoil/hamfisted foreshadowing that was all over the first 1/3 of the story.

Great narration by Nick Podehl.

Odd mashup of cultural settings like French & Desert Nomads. It would have been more interesting if the settings of the different places were established better.

I bought the series while the audiobooks were on sale. I'll read the next book at some point cause I own it. =P
Profile Image for TheCosyDragon.
938 reviews9 followers
December 13, 2012
This review has been crossposted from my blog at The Cosy Dragon . Please head there for more in-depth reviews by me, which appear on a timely schedule.

I was upset that I was reading a ebook copy, as although I dutifully read the table at the beginning that detailed all of the characters and the various terms, I couldn't keep them all straight in my head when I started reading. Had this been a hard copy, I could have easily flicked back and forth. Nevertheless, the novel was very enjoyable - although as an epic I struggled to keep them all straight in my head!

I gravitated towards liking various characters from the beginning. Trell hit a note with me, as did Franco, even though it seemed as if Franco wasn't all that he has put himself up to be as. It's so difficult to discuss the characters in detail because so much is important to the plot. I didn't like Ean, and he seemed like a bit of an idiot. Yes, noone knws what is going on with the strands, but then again, he doesn't have to torment the poor young truth reader so!

For character development, I would have to give five stars for Trell's development, and not quite so many for the other characters. If you're looking for the interest here, it's Trell. If you're more of a plot person, you'll want to follow the other characters more.

The descriptions was subtle, and the world building impressive. Although it was quite confusing at first, and I didn't really know what was going on as a larger picture, I knew that the constellation of stars was probably shared by the people in the same world, and so that provided a grounding point for me. Sounds confusing? You'll understand it when you read the novel.

I loved the tongue in cheek humour that peaked through in parts, and also the irony that became apparent as I continued to read. There were so many cases of mistaken identity and also the things that appeared to be something else. It's quite masterful really, and it really reflects the style and ability of the author that she can keep all of these straight. On this first reading (I'm saying I might have to do a second to really appreciate it more), I didn't pick up any inconsistencies.

This is a very heavy reading novel, and it took me quite a few tries to finish reading it. I'm glad I persisted though. I'm not saying the novel was bad in any way, but if you were looking for something to read in a weekend, this probably isn't it. I'd also put this firmly in the adult category although it could also be suitable for older teens (provided they don't mind the odd sexual innuendo and hints).
March 9, 2020
Disclaimer: I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Podium Publishing. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

Okay I’m definitely a newbie to adult epic fantasy novels. They can be pretty dense and full of a lot of information that you need to pay attention to. It’s not an easy read, at least not for me. So it helped a lot that I was listening to this novel rather than reading it. So thank you so much to Podium Publishing for making this into an audiobook for the likes of people like me. Epic fantasy / high fantasy adult novels are best digested when someone is telling me the story than if I read it to myself.

Which brings me to my first point. Thank goodness Podehl was a great narrator. Especially for this kind of novel, that got super long, had difficult scenes that I needed to get through, and just was very long. He made it entertaining for me and I felt like he matches epic fantasy novels. I’m curious to see what his favorite genre of book is to narrate, but I definitely give him kudos for this one. I think he did an amazing job in this novel, and I am so glad he helped me pronounce a lot of the names that I wasn’t sure of. It just made it a lot more interesting.

Now, on the book itself. McPhail definitely knows how to write an adventure. I’m glad that she made this into a trilogy rather than one super long novel. Even though each main character’s plot could make their own novel if we really wanted it to be, I liked that McPhail intertwined their plotlines in this trilogy. I think I like Trell of the Tides mostly because of that moniker. But I was pretty into Prince Ean as well. I don’t know who my favorite was, but I was definitely intrigued with all of their journeys. I’m curious to see what happens in the second novel, and I’ll find out soon.

Profile Image for Rhianna Sulock.
9 reviews1 follower
December 2, 2014
Found this book by happenstance and a happy find it was. It's been a long time since I've been so engaged in such a rich and detailed world as the one created by McPhail. One of the things that tickled me as I read through the book was the homage, given two decades of wonderful creations by other fantasy authors, in the use of their characters names in new and interesting ways. It was a wonderful inside joke that pleased me to no end.

This is the story of two royal brothers, two Kingdom Blades, with destinies that take them out of their lives and into adventures that span worlds, nations, transcends politics and has its roots in the most basic of all morality tales: the battle of darkness and light. I loved the cast of characters and their representative archetypes, worked in familiar ways but with all new faces.

The writing is excellent, the dialogue entertaining.

I loved it! Will be one I reread a few times, as I have with GRRM, Melanie Rawn, Jacqueline Carey... A new favorite on my shelf.

On the book two!
Author 13 books6 followers
November 7, 2014
It was worth persevering with this, at least for the length of one book. I may pick up the next in the series if I hit a reading lull, but there was not enough engagement with the characters to keep me hooked and the main plot elements are pretty bland, in places some of the twists are just not credible. That said the world building and magic system were good, and although it is long things do keep moving.

The writing style is a bit schizophrenic. It veers from modern to archaic and there were places where I couldn't work out whether there had been an acute grammar failure or if it was just a clumsy attempt at that archaic tone.

Overall it is interesting but not great, I was into it enough to get to the end, but it was put down for several days at a time in between reads.
Profile Image for Donna Parker.
337 reviews13 followers
June 6, 2012
When I won this from The Goodreads First Read program and saw the size of it I admit, I was daunted. Then I started reading and was taken away to a fantastical land full of many interesting characters, places, and events. The journey is sweeping and not dumbed down, but don't let that intimidate you, it is worth learning all the names, places, etc. This does what great epic tomes do, take you away and make you like it. I can't wait for book two, I'm ready to go back.
Profile Image for Gin.
12 reviews2 followers
April 28, 2011
This was a great fantasy book! Can't wait for the next book to come out!
5 reviews1 follower
June 18, 2019
its a 3.5 rating I rounded up in the hope that the potential this book started with will grow in the over the next couple of books in the series, hope it would have been a bit more fun!
my biggest frustrations in the book is the way, the characters think(or lack of) before they just rush to do something, or let people walk around alone, when they know, that they are wanted people of the enemy's. I don't really feel a connection to Ean! and more like Trell of the tides.
All over its a good book, where rulers and noblemen is fighting to keep and over take the kingdom, but in the background ancient forces is battling for balance in the realm, to keep chaos from overtaking.
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