Today I am pleased to present a historical fantasy: The Shadow of Black Wings, The Year of the Dragon #1 by James Calbraith. There are several others participating in this tour, be sure to check the other tour stops to see what they have to say. In addition, enter this rafflecopter to be entered to win one of 2 print or 8 eBook copies of The Shadow of Black Wings. Drawing ends on 3 April, 2013.
Title: The Shadow of Black Wings
Series: The Year of the Dragon #1
Author: James Calbraith
Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Alternate History
Publisher: Flying Squid
Format: eBook and Paperback
Length: 70000 words / 300 pgs (approx)
Purchase: Amazon § Barnes & Noble
“Fast paced and full of energy” –Adrian Tchaikovsky, author of the Shadows of the Apt
“This manuscript is full of highly crafted detail that will make readers shiver at times with fear and delight … a familiar yet highly original fantasy that is a worthwhile read.” — Publishers Weekly
“The real-world cultures are incredibly well-researched and truthful, and yet well-balanced with the fantasy elements. An intriguing and impressive series.”
— Ben Galley, author of the Emaneska Series
It is the Sixteenth Year of Queen Victoria. In the powerful empire of Dracaland, Bran, a young dragon rider, joins his father on a military expedition to the mysterious lands of the Orient. In the reclusive Yamato, Sato, a tomboy samurai girl, strives to prove her right to inherit her father’s school of western magic. Nagomi, a timid shrine apprentice, is haunted by the visions of dark future she must keep secret even from her best friend.
They don’t know it yet, but their paths will cross… And when they do, nothing will ever be the same again.
Welcome to The Shadow of Black Wings, a steam-powered romp across the land of dragons, wizards and samurai. It’s big, it’s fast, it’s been compared to Tolkien in terms of world-building, it has strong female characters and lots of carefully researched detail. You will meet the Royal Marines sailing mighty ironclads and Chinese walking machines; mysterious warlords and crazy inventors; you will discover dark prophecies, family secrets and blood-thirsty demons. And all that in just the first volume!
I will admit – the steampunk potential of this story combined with some paranormal/fantasy had me intrigued. I was not disappointed in the least. The lush recreation of the Victorian Empire is presented with some familiar elements, yet imaginative details and additions, magic and dragons and a taste of elements similar to The Art of War by Sun Tzu, enrich and provide elements that demand notice. With a map provided to help readers follow and organize the story in their own mind, the multiple characters and complex political maneuvering is easier to follow but this is not a simple fly through read.
Calbraith has researched and incorporated actual historical detail, integrating it so neatly into the narration and story that it is a near seamless transition between familiar, actual and fantastical. This daunting yet necessary task could detract from the well-crafted world we are immersed in, yet the details only serve to further the story and character development. Multi-layered characters, with Bran particularly well balanced: cockiness and brashness of youth counterbalanced with his realization that he doesn’t have all the answers, and perhaps is not invincible. When he moves forward, despite his doubts, readers are left with the understanding that his decisions are well thought through, mostly.
The book is a terrific start for a series, giving us plenty of untouched upon elements early in the first that are not addressed again, and a bit of an open end for Bran. It has the flavor of other high-fantasy books that I have read, engaging and unique with characters that you can find likable and interesting, and just enough of a mysterious twist to keep you wondering what next. I’m curious (and excited) to see the next in the series.
I received an eBook copy from the author for purpose of honest review for Full Moon Bites tours. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
About the Author:
James Calbraith is a 34 year old Poland-born writer, foodie and traveler currently residing in South London.
Growing up in communist Poland on a diet of powdered milk, Lord of the Rings and soviet science-fiction, he had his first story published at the ripe age of eight. After years of bouncing around university faculties, he moved to London in 2007, found a decent IT job and started writing in English. His debut historical fantasy novel, The Shadow of Black Wings, has reached ABNA semi-finals. It was published in July 2012 and hit the Historical Fantasy and Alternate History bestseller lists on Amazon US & UK.