Review: The Shadow Seer, by Fran Jacobs

The Shadow Seer
Fran Jacobs
Writer’s Exchange
336 pages
acquired: author provided book for review

The blurb from Goodreads:
For generations prophets have foreseen the birth of the Shadow Seer, the oracle of dark visions and fallen kingdoms. But by the time of Sorron, King of Carnia, their warnings have mostly been forgotten and his name is known only to a handful of scholars. When Sorron’s grandson, Prince Candale, falls deathly ill, the Seer’s legends are brought to light once again by his saviour, a witch named Mayrila. She believes that Candale is the fulfilment of those long forgotten prophecies. She believes that he is the Shadow Seer…

The review:
The Shadow Seer is the first book in Fran Jacob’s Ellenessia’s Curse series, a planned trilogy. It opens with the protagonist, Candale, deathly ill despite the best efforts of the healers being brought into the castle by his grandfather, King Sorron, or his father, the crown prince.

Desperate to save Candale’s life, his family turns to a woman his father despises, a witch named Mayrila. She does more than save his life, however, cluing him into secrets about his family and his potential future. Mayrila’s revelations send Candale on a journey of discovery. Is he truly this prophet, this seer foretold in her family’s history, the Shadow Seer?

Candale is a likeable character, though for a seventeen year-old boy he’s almost unbelievably naive and innocent. Jacobs addresses these traits of Candale’s through his interaction with his friends and companions, which makes that innocence and naivete a bit easier to swallow. Thankfully, Candale is nicely balanced out by his bodyguard, Trellany, and best friend Teveriel. The two are a bit older and have much more life experience, so they provide the oftentimes willful Candale with much needed grounding.

The Shadow Seer is told in first person, so we know only as much as Candale does. Sometimes this means, as a reader with a bit life experience than he has, I can fill in the blanks of what he notices but doesn’t know how to interpret, and sometimes it means being in the dark just as much as he is–which, can be used as a good plot device. I assume as the story continues in the second and third installments that what Candale is missing because of innocence and naivete is going to come back and bite him in the butt. With a limited, sometimes unreliable, narrator  there’s some tension throughout the story between what Candale knows and what I the reader noticed. I’m curious to see how the plots Candale knows about coalesce with the bits and pieces he’s missing.

The novel ends on a heck of a cliffhanger, so I can’t help but hope that the second book is coming soonish. I really want to see the fall out of The Shadow Seer’s last several pages. Over all, I found The Shadow Seer to be a good fantasy; the magical, European-esque medieval setting will be familiar to fantasy readers, with the modern equality of genders I’m coming to expect in fantasies written in the last twenty years or so. This was an entertaining novel, though not one that I’d jump up and down and call “great.” I’m glad to have read it, but wasn’t blown away by it.

Visit the author’s Web site.


About Jessica

Dork extraordinaire, that's me! An unhealthy knowledge of Star Trek, a love of books, a fondness for purring cats.
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