Review: Lord of Snow and Shadows. Tears of Artamon 1 by Sarah Ash

Lord of Snow and Shadowssnow

574 pages
published in 2004

1. Lord of Snow and Shadows
2. Prisoner of the Iron Tower
3. Children of the Serpent Gate

Young hero Gavril is working as portrait-painter to the lords and ladies of Muscobar, a dukedom with a Renaissance flavour. Little does he know that his true father is Lord Volkh, the “Drakhaon” of a far more grim realm in wintry Azhkendir. Volkh’s murder brings Gavril not only the throne–forced on him by dourly loyal henchmen–but demonic powers which exact a terrible price. Physical transformation is only the beginning. Yet it seems these powers must be used, because Azhkendir is threatened by spies, traitors, the vengeful spirit of Volkh himself, and external invasion[…]

How does the saying go? Never judge a book by its cover? Well, I judged this particular book only by its cover. Loved it, bought it. Easy as that. The blurb wasn’t that interesting to be honest and unfortunately the whole book is a giant ‘meh’. It was okay, I didn’t hate it, but I will not continue reading the next books.

The world the story takes place in is really pretty and reminds me of Russia. Even the names sound Russian and I liked the cold, wintry & snowy atmosphere the author creates. Sarah Ash tries to be inventive and wants to surprise the reader with the use of secrets & mysteries. I appreciate the effort but a lot of things are very obvious and that doesn’t make the story very captivating and exciting.

The story is told from different points of view – Some of them I liked, some of them I did not. I don’t know why the main character’s mummy had to be one of those pov’s but she mostly only succeeded in making me fall asleep. Kiukiu, another female main protagonist was one of my favourites in the start of the story as I could relate to her and I was curious about where her storyline was going. Unfortunately she changes to become a very stereotypical character and I lost interest.

Anyways, we mostly follow the main protagonist, Gavril, who is told that he’s the heir to the nation Azhkendir. He only wanted to be a painter, but ah well, can’t help it, hey? He also is a kind of shapeshifter who is slowly turning into a dragon-vampire?-ghoul?-thing. There is some whining and angsting going on as Gavril still has to figure out what he wants, whether he is fit to rule and whether he wants to fight the transformation into a “Drakhoul”. That is all not too great for Azhkendir as its neighbouring nation, Tielen, prepares to attack, while Gavril is still a new & weak ruler.

Magic exists in this world, but also some new technology, like for example telephones!

So yeah, there is a lot of scheming going on, backstabbing and also some romancing. Some things don’t become very clear because of a lack of details given and nothing is really a surprise, apart from the ending, that finally gave me something I wasn’t expecting.

It’s an ok story, with ok characters who could have been more ‘meaty’ and less predictable.


One comment

  1. I read the book some years ago and overall I feel quite the same about it as you. At first I found it interesting that the author uses details from the russian history for her story like the “drushina”, the storm on the winter palace and so on. But after a while it left me just puzzled because there is no greater sense in that, like placing the whole russian revolution in a different world, it´s just using bits here and there.

    The book is not totally bad, The setting could have been the basis for a nice read, but characters turn out to be simple and too obvious, and in the story even the dramatic turns fail to captivate the reader. So Vol. 1 will stay alone.

    Liked by 1 person

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