Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Conqueror’s Shadow: by Ari Marmell

The Conqueror’s Shadow


They called him the Terror of the East. His past shrouded in mystery, his identity hidden beneath a suit of black armor and a skull-like helm, Corvis Rebaine carved a bloody path through Imphallion, aided by Davro, a savage ogre, and Seilloah, a witch with a taste for human flesh. No shield or weapon could stop his demon-forged axe. And no magic could match the spells of his demon slave, Khanda.

Yet just when ultimate victory was in his grasp, Rebaine faltered. His plans of conquest, born from a desire to see Imphallion governed with firmness and honesty, shattered. Amid the chaos of a collapsing army, Rebaine vanished, taking only a single hostage—the young noblewomanTyannon—to guarantee his escape.

Seventeen years later, Rebaine and Tyannon are married, living in obscurity and raising their children, a daughter and a son. Rebaine has put his past behind him, given up his dreams of conquest. Not even news of Audriss—an upstart warlord following Rebaine’s old path of conquest—can stir the retired warrior to action.

Until his daughter is assaulted by Audriss’s goons.

Now, to rescue the country he once tried to conquer, Rebaine once more dons the armor of the Terror of the East and seeks out his former allies. But Davro has become a peaceful farmer.Seilloah has no wish to leave her haunted forest home. And Khanda . . . well, to describe his feelings for his former master as undying hatred would be an understatement.

But even if Rebaine can convince his onetime comrades to join him, he faces a greater challenge: Does he dare to reawaken the part of him that gloried in cruelty, blood, and destruction? With the safety of his family at stake, can he dare not to?


When I first picked up The Conqueror’s Shadow, I thought it sounded interesting but not that original. Now after reading it I have to say, boy was I wrong. I loved The Conqueror’s Shadow! From the fast paced action to the witty and endearing characters The Conqueror’s Shadow has it all.

My initial thought that the book would be unoriginal and overly filled with war details was completely wrong. The book is instead filled with strong supporting characters that are both endearing and comical, a strong and fast paced plot, and an ending filled with twists to delight even the most jaded reader.

But what impressed me most about The Conqueror’s Shadow, were the flashback sequences interspersed throughout the book and the level of writing Marmell uses to transform Corvis, the Terror of the East into a peaceful and happy husband and father.

I’ve read a number of fantasy books that have tried to use this same flashback technique, but often it comes across as dull and unnecessary. This is not the case for The Conqueror’s Shadow, instead these flashbacks complete the character development necessary to make an evil warlord likable to the reader, as well as show the sequence of events that brought us to the present. These flashbacks round out the protagonist and ultimately giving this book a step up on the majority of books in this genre.

As for Marmell’s writing, never before have I read a book that the author is able to so aptly paint the protagonist in such a morally grey area. Corvis is truly a monster of a man, he killed thousands in his war, unleashed the gnomes and other terrifying creatures on the world, and had his demon, Khanda, eat the souls of hundreds of innocent men, women, and children. Yet Marmell has done a remarkable job infusing Corvis with just the right amount of admirable qualities to make him instead into a humble yet flawed man. A man who just wanted to make the world into a better place. Marmell uses these same skills and the flashback sequences mentioned above to illustrate the transformation that causes this monster of a man to become the husband and father we meet at the beginning.

Yet at the end of the day it all comes down to one question. Did I enjoy the book? And I can clearly and easily say, yes, I enjoyed this book.

Marmell’s superior righting ability, the fast paced action, and the lovable supporting character make The Conqueror’s Shadow a great read and easily something I would recommend to anyone who likes fantasy.


9 out of 10


Publisher: Spectra

Published: February 23, 2010

Price: $26.00

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