Shader: Sword of the Archon (Shader #1) by Derek Prior - book review

Write on: Sat, 02 Jan 2021 by  in Janelle's Reviews Read 1795


4/5 stars


This is my first read by this author, and certainly won’t be my last. This was a surprising find for me, since I haven’t heard of this author. I love stumbling across new reads by new voices.


Sword of the Archon follows the POV of several characters, which is always a plus for me. You really get a good sense of the world this way. I don’t think I remember ever reading a book that crossed genres quite like this one. It’s part epic fantasy and part postapocalyptic, with a smattering of sci-fi at the end. It’s set in the future of our world - technology is a thing long in the past (or so we think). Yet the feel is fantasy, with swords and magic and dark creatures and a villain in the shadows pulling strings that we just get glimpses of. I loved the overall feel of the setting, and the worldbuilding is very well done. 


The main character, Deacon Shader, isn’t immediately likable, and throughout the book, his relationship with his “love” interest fell flat. Besides this complaint, the characters are well fleshed out. Shader is a priest gone rogue, yet his past religious affiliations keep catching up with him. He wins a battle to claim a sword, which makes it feel like we are flung into a story halfway through. The reader must pay close attention for the first half of the book, for there are terms and stories that are already set in motion and the reader plays catch up. I don’t necessarily mind this, but it does make for a bit of confusion. 


One of my favorite characters, the villainous Dr. Cadman (I’m so very partial to villain POVs) is so well written, I found myself jealous. He is funny, undead (yay), thousands of years old, and quite the character of paradoxes. Sometimes you think “Wow, he actually has a soul” and then he will do something so truly horrible you shiver. He’s not the only character who has several sides to him, either. This book is full of characters with mixed motivations, well developed voices, and development throughout the story that weaves almost perfectly into a tale of rip-roaring fun, intriguing mysteries, magic, mayhem, and horrifying beasts. 


The prose was also fantastic. It was lyrical without being overdone, and well edited. The author certainly has a good grasp on the English language. All in all, I will certainly be finishing this series. Trigger warning: there is a rape scene, but it wasn’t a throwaway trope with no purpose. It plays a vital role in the story. 


4 of 5 solid stars.



By day Janelle is a nurse, mother to two autistic sons, and writer. By night, she's immersed in other worlds. Reading fantasy is her happy place. And drinking wine. And eating tacos. 

Grab her flintlock fantasy series The Rodasia Chronicles, or her epic fantasy series The Steward Saga on Amazon.