The First of Shadows (The Riven Realm #1) by Deck Matthews - Book Review

Write on: Tue, 22 Sep 2020 by  in Jordan's Reviews Read 3157

The First of Shadows is a perfect read for Wheel of Time fans. It presents a unique offering, epic fantasy condensed into a well-paced novella, something the aforementioned series is not exactly famous for. But Deck Mathews pulls it off, the book is well-written, full of interesting worldbuilding, and is engaging throughout.

“As a raging storm descends on the Blasted Coast, the crippled young rigger, Caleb Rusk, meets a stranger on the road. Little does he know that the encounter will pull him into a conflict that threatens everything he holds dear—and change the course of his life forever.

Meanwhile, in the Capital of Taralius, a string of inexplicable deaths have captured the attention of the Ember Throne. Second Corporal Avendor Tarcoth is tasked with uncovering the truth behind a danger that could threaten the very fabric of the Realm.”

One drawback of packing an epic fantasy into novella form is the density of new nations, characters, and worldbuilding terms. At times it was a little much to keep track of. There are several POV characters, each with their own nationality and form of magic. It was well-handled, but still teetered on the brink a couple of times, and I imagine that some readers might find it a little overwhelming.

I enjoyed Matthews’ prose. The language was apt, with solid characterization, good dialogue, and interesting metaphors. Everything flowed very well, and painted a detailed picture that really drew me in to the story.

All-in-all this was a very enjoyable read and I zipped right through it. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves epic fantasy and is looking for something they can pick up without investing a lot of time. I’ll be moving right along to the sequel Dust of the Darkness.  Four enthusiastic stars!


Jordan Loyal Short is an author of epic fantasy, an inveterate nerd, and a small business owner. He has worked in a variety of industries, as a waiter, bartender, copywriter and more. These days, Jordan lives in Washington state with his wife where he is currently daydreaming about the end of the world. Books by Jordan Loyal Short: The Skald's Black Verse The Weeping Sigil Travels in the Dark

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