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Shadowbridge by Gregory Frost
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Shadowbridge (original 2008; edition 2008)

by Gregory Frost

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195None59,986 (3.91)10
Member:maberry
Title:Shadowbridge
Authors:Gregory Frost
Info:Del Rey (2008), Paperback, 272 pages
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Shadowbridge by Gregory Frost (2008)

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Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
Tiptree shortlist 2008
  SChant | Mar 22, 2014 |
I picked this book up because the premise intrigued me, but I didn't expect great things from the story or writing. First books in any new fantasy world always disappoint me because the author almost never has a very firm grasp of the world he or she has created. This wasn't the most solid first novel I've ever read, but I wasn't disappointed. The world Frost creates is unique and colorful, born perhaps of a desire to weave together stories with a traditional mythological flavor. With only half the story told, I can't yet tell whether the individual stories sprinkled throughout the novel have any relevance or if they're just decoration, but I enjoyed the mini-stories, and I enjoyed the overall story. There was more complexity to the plot than I expected, and I am interested to see what the second book brings. It wasn't a terribly long book, so I'm not sure why it needed to be two books in the first place, but there you go. ( )
  Snukes | Jun 14, 2013 |
Amazon received
  romsfuulynn | Apr 28, 2013 |
Very strong, unusual fantasy on a world where everyone lives on a network of giant bridges. This is the first half of the story; Lord Tophet is the second half. Full review of both books here. ( )
  fascination | Aug 8, 2009 |
Summary: The world of Shadowbridge is a world unlike any other. It's a world built on an ocean, where vast bridges connect far-flung spiraling towers, and tiny islands underneath the spans are the only land most people ever see. But more than that, Shadowbridge is a world of dreams, of sea dragons and fox-faced tricksters, of capricious gods visiting their gifts upon unsuspecting mortals. And most of all, Shadowbridge is a world of stories.

Leodora is a collector of those stories, a sixteen-year-old orphan who has fled from the abusive care of her uncle and the tiny village in which she grew up, onto the more cosmopolitan world of the spans. Following in her father Bardsham's footsteps (but disguised as a boy), she makes her living as a shadow puppeteer, telling the stories of the spans. Acting as her agent and guide is Soter, a drunken old man who used to perform the same office for Bardsham. Soter is haunted by Leodora's family's past, a legacy that he hopes to keep secret from the girl, even as her talent begins to outstrip even her father's. Rounding out their small traveling troupe is Diverus, another orphan who has been god-touched. Born an idiot, left as a sacrifice to the gods, he was gifted with the ability to play any music upon any instrument… although gifts from the gods are not always blessings, and seldom come without a price.

Review: Shadowbridge is a world of stories, and Shadowbridge is also a novel of stories. There's a central story running throughout -- of Leodora and her companions traveling the spans -- but there are major digressions to tell the back stories of Leodora and of Diverus, and sprinkled throughout are the stories of Shadowbridge that Leodora collects and performs. It's a format similar to Megan Whalen Turner's The Thief, but even more so, and it works exceptionally well to weave together a feeling of the world, its inhabitants, and their mythos. Shadowbridge is a unique, imaginative, and highly textured world, and I found Gregory Frost's writing to be thoroughly transporting. However, for readers who prefer a more linear approach to storytelling, it might come off feeling fragmented.

The only real issue I had with this book is that it doesn't tell a complete story. I don't know what went into the decision to publish Shadowbridge and its sequel, Lord Tophet, as two separate (albeit relatively short) books instead of one complete manuscript. Whatever the reason, however, it leaves Shadowbridge feeling somewhat incomplete; it spends all of its time doing character introduction and worldbuilding, and seems content to leave almost all of the main plot for the sequel. That's not to say that it isn't well-written, or compelling, or interesting -- indeed, I was thoroughly hooked by the story from the beginning, and frequently found myself willingly doing household chores I'd been neglecting, just so I could have the opportunity to listen to more of Shadowbridge. However, neither piece of the duology can stand on its own as a complete work, so the decision to split it in two feels artificial and leaves a trace of a bad taste in my mouth.

I was also somewhat distracted by the narrator's voice, at least initially. Lauren Davis is a good narrator overall, and good with keeping voices consistent and recognizable, but she just sounds so young. I don't know how old she actually is, and her voice is a good fit for sixteen-year-old Leodora, but it was rather disconcerting to hear a voice that normally narrates children's and mid-grade books so casually discussing violence, cruelty, and sex.

All in all, though, I really enjoyed Shadowbridge, and will certainly be listening to Lord Tophet, as well as keeping an eye out for more of Frost's novels in the future. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: I'd recommend Shadowbridge to all fantasy fans, but particularly those who like the story-within-a-story format, those who enjoy legends and fairy tales, those who are interested in mythology and enjoy stories of gods interacting with mortals, and most of all, to those who have the second book on hand (or enough Audible credits to download it) immediately upon finishing the first. ( )
2 vote fyrefly98 | Mar 7, 2009 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gregory Frostprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Davis, LaurenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Michael Swanwick for urging me ever onward, ad to Marianne Porter for reading it more times than he did
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The first time Leodora spoke to a god, she had climbed to the top of the bridge tower and she was masked.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345497589, Paperback)

“[A] rather stunning new fantasy novel….[Shadowbridge] achieves a kind of Florentine grace and balance rare in modern fantasy, interpolating tales within tales, playing ingenious games with point of view, and offering more than a few passages of surpassingly lovely prose. It's a far more important novel than its almost generic-sounding title would suggest….For all its painterly beauty, Shadowbridge is a tough-minded novel that confronts some disturbing issues, and that is remarkably efficient in the telling; even though it's only the first half of a duology to be completed next spring, it gets as much done in barely over 250 pages as many other fantasies do in big-brown-bag trilogies…[Frost has] a lot of explaining to do, and it's not likely that anyone who reads this compelling and original novel will fail to follow it into the second volume. Frost could be on his way toward a masterpiece.”
Locus


"Shadowbridge is a labyrinthine web of causeways, spiraling out across a vast shallow sea, whose cultures are blends of our own history and mythology.  Frost's considerable powers of imagination and description ground the disparate locales and societies of his world through story -  those lived, told to and by young Leodora in her journey of self-discovery.  Beautifully written and realized."
--Jeffrey Ford, author of THE EMPIRE OF ICE CREAM


“Orphaned 16-year-old Leodora, a talented puppeteer and storyteller, is forced to hide her identity and gender as she travels the spans and tunnels of the ocean-crossing Shadowbridge in Frost’s exciting first of a diptych. Stubborn and god-touched, Leodora feels nearly friendless until she meets a youth with similar gifts. Diverus, an enslaved simpleton, is endowed with intelligence and uncanny musical abilities when an unpredictable deity visits his span. When Diverus plays and Leodora performs, their synergy creates magic and brings them instant fame. Only Leodora’s mentor, the perpetually drunken Soter, realizes that their brilliance attracts dangerous chaos energy, and he must protect the young pair while keeping long-held secrets about the deaths of Leodora’s parents and the dangers of her talent. Frost (Fitcher’s Brides) draws richly detailed human characters and embellishes his multilayered stories with intriguing creatures–benevolent sea dragons, trickster foxes, death-eating snakes and capricious gods–that make this fantasy a sparkling gem of mythic invention and wonder.”–Publishers Weekly


“Shadowbridge is a world constructed on the spans of bridges, so vast that no one can cross every bridge, in which occasionally gods walk the earth and drop their gifts into the hands of the unsuspecting. Leodora is a traveling puppeteer storyteller known as Jax to protect her identity. Hers is a story of events that began with her speaking to a god. As in conversations with gods in many other stories, the most important thing is left unsaid. From walking the spans to collecting the strange tales of every place she visits to picking up a god-touched musician for her act, Leodora’s journey is filled with the brilliant details of Frost’s masterful world building. The tale starts taking on tension as Leodora’s fame grows and she begins attracting dangerous attention, the kind last attracted by her predecessor, the legendary Bardsham. Leodora’s traveling companion and manager, Soter, traveled with Bardsham, too, and clearly knows more of his fate than he’s telling. He drops hints sometimes, when distracted, but never quite tells Leodora the whole story. Frost has created a world containing all manner of fantastic story and the promise of a fascinating history as Leodora moves into her destiny and the unknown future.”–Booklist (starred review)



“One of fantasy’s most challenging thinkers, who also knows how to tell a top-notch story.”
–Karen Traviss, New York Times bestselling author of City of Pearl


Sprung from a timeless dream, Shadowbridge is a world of linked spans arching high above glittering seas. It is a world of parading ghosts, inscrutable gods, and dangerous magic. Most of all, it is a world of stories.

No one knows those stories better than Leodora, a young shadow-puppeteer who travels Shadowbridge collecting the intertwining tales and myths of each place she passes through, then retells them in performances whose genius has begun to attract fame . . . and less welcome attention.

For Leodora is fleeing a violent past, as are her two companions: her manager, Soter, an elderly drunkard who also served Ledora’s father, the legendary puppeteer Bardsham; and Diverus, her musical accompanist, a young man who has been blessed, and perhaps cursed, by the touch of a nameless god.

Now, as the strands of a destiny she did not choose begin to tighten around her, Leodora is about to cross the most perilous bridge of all–the one leading from the past to the future.

Shadowbridge is the first novel in a two-book adventure.


Praise for Gregory Frost

“Frost demonstrates his mastery of the short story form in what will surely rank as one of the best fantasy collections of the year.”
–Publishers Weekly (starred review), on Attack of the Jazz Giants and Other Stories

“Suspenseful . . . hard to put down . . . will stay with the reader for a long time.”
–BookPage, on Fitcher’s Brides

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:30:18 -0400)

"Sprung from a timeless dream, Shadowbridge is a world of linked spans arching high above glittering seas. It is a world of parading ghosts, inscrutable gods, and dangerous magic. Most of all, it is a world of stories." "No one knows those stories better than Leodora, a young shadow-puppeteer who travels Shadowbridge collecting the intertwining tales and myths of each place she passes through, then retells them in performances whose genius has begun to attract fame ... and less welcome attention." "For Leodora is fleeing a violent past, as are her two companions: her manager, Soter, an elderly drunkard who also served Leodora's father, the legendary puppeteer Bardsham; and Diverus, her musical accompanist, a young man who has been blessed, and perhaps cursed, by the touch of a nameless god. Now, as the strands of a destiny she did not choose begin to tighten around her, Leodora is about to cross the most perilous bridge of all - the one leading from the past to the future."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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