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The Shadow of Elysium by Django Wexler

The Shadow of Elysium

by Django Wexler

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Simplistically,yet beautifully written lead in to book 3. It's a powerful glimpse into a small piece of the Shadow Campaigns, and is really worth delving into if you have an hour of time!
Sometimes short, sweet and simple can be the most effective storytelling tool, and Mr Wexler proves that here. ( )
  BookFrivolity | Apr 23, 2016 |
I was afraid I'd be missing something by reading this story when I haven't yet read 'The Shadow Throne' (I'm going to!), but no, you can jump right in here!

One of the characters is also featured in this free short - but again, you don't have to have read it first: http://io9.com/the-coolest-fantasy-story-youll-read-this-week-514117561

'The Shadow of Elysium' introduces us to a young man, Abraham. He's an ordinary villager - well, except that he has a demon inside him, which gives him the power to heal... or to kill. His father has always taught him to hide this power and never to speak of it, let alone use it. He obeys, and never tells even his most special friend, a young priest. But when it comes down to a life or death situation, will he able to resist doing all he can to aid his loved ones?

This is classic fantasy, familiar in some ways - but wonderful characters and relationships place this story well above the pack. Django Wexler seems to be getting better and better as a writer with every new item from him that I read.

My only quibble - the story ends in a way that makes it feel like more of an introductory chapter to a longer novel, rather than a completed story unto itself. I expect to hear what happens to these characters next, in the future!

Many thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read. As always, my opinion is solely my own.
( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
Our Review, by LITERAL ADDICTION's Scholastic Siren - Sara:
*Copy gifted in exchange for an honest review

--Actual rating, 4.5 Skulls

This is a wonderful story! It is fast paced and well written. Set in the world of The Shadow Campaigns, this is a nice entry point to the series or a tidbit to tide you over until The Prince of Valor comes out. Either way, you will be left ready for more!

This is a first person story told from the point of view of a young man who is a prisoner being transported to Elysium. There are flashbacks about his life leading up to his capture, as well as present day interactions with his guards and a fellow prisoner, a young girl named Alex. I am unfamiliar with these characters, but I understand they are favorites from the series. I can't wait to read more about them! ( )
  LITERAL_ADDICTION | May 19, 2015 |
I’m not usually one to pick up novellas outside of a series’ main books, but for The Shadow Campaigns I’d gladly make an exception – which should give you a hint into how much I love this series. A couple of years ago when Django Wexler released the prequel short story The Penitent Damned for free, I snatched it up and read that one too. It introduced us to a young female thief named Alex who possesses a demon inside her that allows her to do some incredible things, giving her an edge over others in her trade.

Now Alex’s tale continues in The Shadow of Elysium, but it is told instead through the eyes of a young man named Abraham, a character who also has a demon inside him. The novella opens with the two of them in chains, traveling on a prisoner wagon to the fortress-city of Elysium to start a lonely and brutal life under the watchful eyes of the Priests of the Black. Every other chapter we get a glimpse into Abraham’s past as he tells of his life growing up in a remote village, the day he discovers his demon and the healing powers it grants him, and the events that led up to his arrest. Eventually things converge into the present, and Abraham has decided to plot a daring breakout. But then, there’s his fellow captive Alex. The young woman’s abilities are a mystery to him, but he has no doubt that they must be dangerous if the guards feel the need to keep her sedated at almost all hours of the day – which means she could be their greatest chance for escape.

The Shadow of Elysium can be read and enjoyed as a stand-alone, no prior experience with The Shadow Campaigns series is required since these characters and events are completely apart from the main story. You don’t even need to have read The Penitent Damned. It’s a great place for new readers to jump on board but also a wonderful experience for fans of the series because it adds so much in terms of world building. This novella’s main focus is Abraham anyhow, a deeply personal tale that does a way better job exploring a protagonist than most short fiction I’ve ever read. We’ve not seen first person narration used in this series until now, but it works extraordinarily well for Abraham’s story and it was probably the foremost reason I took to him so quickly in just a handful of pages. A lot of short stories and novellas have disappointed me in the past because they don’t leave much room for character development (which is why I typically avoid them), but this isn’t a problem here. In fact, I find the storytelling well-paced and very balanced.

Now I realize complaining that a novella is too short is a bit like complaining that ice cream is too sweet, so I’m not going to do it here; but I do, however, want to say I wished it hadn’t ended so abruptly. It was a deflating moment when I turned the page with excitement expecting another chapter to see what became of Abraham and Alex, to discover that the remaining 25% of the book or so was actually preview for the third novel of the series The Price of Valor. To Wexler’s credit though, he definitely made me want more. And considering how I’ve been looking forward to The Price of Valor for almost a year now, I certainly couldn’t remain glum for long.

What else can I say but if you haven’t picked up The Thousand Names yet, what in the hells are you waiting for, go out and get it, go out and get it NOW! But okay, if you’re still on the fence and not sure if you want to take the plunge into yet another epic fantasy series (I understand, as they do demand a lot of your time), I urge you to check out The Shadow of Elysium. Like The Penitent Damned, it serves as a fantastic introduction to Wexler’s writing and gives a taste of what The Shadow Campaigns has to offer, and it’s an even better novella. A wonderful place to get started. ( )
  stefferoo | May 17, 2015 |
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The wagons travel north across the mountains, carrying cargo of great value: Hamveltai glass and porcelain; Deslandai jewelry in heavy iron strongboxes; fine cloth from the cities of the Old Coast. And Abraham.
Bound and tied, guarded day and night, Abraham has been stolen from his village, from the arms of the man he loved. He is being sent to the fortress-city of Elysium to serve a dark and ancient order, the Priests of the Black. They have discovered the secret he kept all his life: that inside him dwells a demon which allows him to heal…and to kill.
But Abraham is not alone. A young woman named Alex, similarly possessed, rides with him. And as a bond grows between them, they begin to wonder if they can turn the demons that have damned them into their salvation.
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