Review: Prince of Shadows by Curt Benjamin
The Particulars: Epic Fantasy, DAW, available in print and as e-book
The Source: The Bookshelf
The Grade: B
Llesho was only seven years old when the Harn invaded Thebin, slaying his father and selling the boy into slavery. On Pearl Island, he was trained as a diver — until a vision changed his life completely. The spirit of his newly-dead teacher revealed the truth about Llesho’s royal family — his six brothers were still alive, but had been sold into slavery in distant lands.
Now, to free his brothers — and himself — Llesho must train as a gladiator…
He must go face to face with sorcerers….
I love Curt Benjamin’s epic fantasies, and this is the book that started the love. ( I wish I knew who he is a psedonym for, though, since he is writing Contemporary Fantasy under another name.)
This book take place in a setting that is heavily based on East Asian history and mythology. And I loved the care that Mr Benjamin had taken to make the book feel fresh, yet at the same time believable.
At the core, this is a quest novel, which means they travel a lot. Mr Benjamin manages to weave in enough unexpected events during the travel portions, to avoid the dullness that creeps into many fantasy novels. I liked following Llesho’s journey, from his life at the oyster beds, and to the Shan Empire. It was interesting to see how he struggled with his nightmares, and his past, as he and his companions travelled toward the capital of the Shan Empire.
On the way, he met a lot of people, and most of them wasn’t what they seemed to be. It was interesting to see how Llesho slowly realised that he was travelling in the company of immortals and witches. I liked the sense of loyalty that arose between Llesh, Bixei, Lling and Hmishi, as they travelled together.
That said, I had a couple of niggling things. First, I struggled a bit with how Lleck knew Llesho was alive? I know that the probable answer was that he probably had help from the Goddess.
The other niggling thing was that I would have loved a map. They travel a lot, both in this book and the other books of the trilogy. A map would have been really helpful.