Shadows of Men
By: M. Lee Holmes
Rhada, the High Protector of Kaena is dispatched to investigate a terrible happening in a land far to the north of Axenda, the capitol where King Firion and his queen reside. It will take a month to get there and back. This leaves Firion and castle vulnerable to attack from both foe…and friends. Lord Ivran is gathering an army to overthrow the king and everyone from royalty to the peasantry is quickly choosing sides. Unbeknownst to all but a few, an ancient evil—a long dead evil sorcerer—has risen from the depths to add the misery of the realm. Who will stop it all?
This is NOT the best story I’ve ever read. That honor—for me—goes to Gone with the Wind. However, it’s a good, imaginative, and engrossing story.
The plot is complicated—there are literally dozens of different story-lines. Yet, the author keeps them each in their own bubble—for the most part. The characters are developed and logically written (although I’m not sure I’d call them complex). Rhada—the woman I would consider to be the main character—is less developed than I would have liked her to be; she’s hated by her countrymen for some truly heinous acts she committed during a time of rebellion and war, while under orders from the king. The people’s hatred is warranted. However, I couldn’t help but feel that the author, M. Lee Holmes, passed up an opportunity to give more detail into Rhada’s inner workings. I finished the book not knowing if Rhada was truly the contemptuous evil scoundrel she appeared to be or, I wondered, was there anything to like about her at all.
Ms. Holmes is a talented writer. Without giving anything away, I can tell you there was a scene in which something truly disgusting was described and I LITERALLY began gagging. I could almost see and smell and feel it all and it was too much! She has skill.
My only real complaint about this book is this: In the beginning of the story—let’s say the first five chapters maybe—there was a lot of going back and forth between the “present” and the “past” with little or no recognition of that fact. I got a little lost. It wasn’t until I was well into the book that I realized what had been happening.
Overall, this is a good book and a great way to spend a few hours in another world.
I would recommend it to lovers of fantasy.