The Shadows of Dust by Alec Hutson - Book Review

Write on: Mon, 13 Sep 2021 by  in Jordan's Reviews Read 778

The Shadows of Dust is a sweeping fantasy space opera. It was an adventure that I absolutely loved. What a wonderful setting this novel had! Big Star Wars meets Dungeons & Dragons vibes here, a unique blend of science fiction and fantasy that I think is vastly under-represented in speculative fiction today. I gave it top marks on that alone, but there was even more to love in this novel. 

A ragtag crew of misfits stumble into a high stakes relic hunt and before you know it the whole galaxy is after them. It’s a great premise that hooked me early and kept me captivated for the whole ride. The plot of the story moved at a great pace and took the characters from one unique locale to another, teasing out mysteries along with a few surprises along the way. As the crew gets closer and closer to unraveling the secrets of a long vanished elder race of aliens, the stakes get higher and the danger mounts. This was a well-structured book that I think could be adapted into a great movie.

The Shadows of Dust dives headfirst into a big action sequence that was doing a lot of work to establish both a very unique setting and plot hook.  If I had one quibble it would be that the characters take backseat in the first 50 pages or so because of this. In the midst of all of the development it takes the characters a moment to be flushed out. However, about a third of the way through the book I started to get invested in their arcs. The one character that didn’t ever really come alive for me was Nala, the feline battle mage. But the other characters had enough depth and backstory, just the right amount really to engage me with them in the context of a fast, fun adventure story. I could see the main character Kerin and his childhood friend/love interest Tessa having an interesting dynamic to build future novels off of, but in general I’d also say that characterization isn’t this novel’s strong suit.

As I said up top I think the setting is what really steals the show in this book. It’s totally unique. The stellar tributary is a swath of the galaxy connected by “streams“, basically magical currents through space that allow “star beasts” to swim through the void. Star beasts of course being gigantic sentient magical animals that serve as space craft. What you get is a fantasy version of Galactic Empire setting with the wild fringes where much of the story takes place. If you love Sci-fi AND Fantasy, you’re likely going to really appreciate this setting.

All-in-all this was a great book and I really had a fun time reading it. A strong plot, fast pace, and strong setting make for a cinematic adventure that that I thoroughly enjoyed. I’ll be adding Alec Hutson to list of authors whose novels I’m intrigued to explore. I really hope we’ll get to see more books set in the Stellar Tributary.

Last modified on Friday, 17 September 2021 23:26

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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