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Lord of Snow and Shadows by Sarah Ash
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Lord of Snow and Shadows (2003)

by Sarah Ash

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I bought this book just 'cause of the pretty cover art. I wasn't familiar with the author at all.
About half way through the book, I ordered the two sequels, and just today I bought another book from the author. So - she's won me over!

This is very enjoyable epic fantasy. I very much liked the semi-Russian feel to the culture, and the interplay/conflict between magic and technology/science. Yes, the characterizations and politics are a bit simplistic - but I thought it worked, in the context of a fable.

I enjoyed both the two main plot threads - first, the story of Gavril - a young artist whose mother has shielded him from knowledge of his father's heritage: possession by a dragon-like spirit which gives great power, but only at the cost of ones humanity. Second - the story of Kiukiu, a girl who, similarly has had her heritage hidden. Her father was a magician who, through music, could cross the boundaries of life and death, and she also has unknowingly inherited powers.

Recommended for fans of Robin Hobb, Carol Berg, etc. ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
Gavril has no idea what he’s up against. In one day, he goes from being a talented, but commonly born peasant with little knowledge of his parentage painting (and falling in love with) the local nobleman’s daughter, to being kidnapped and told his father’s not only the king of a foreign country, but that he’s dead and Gavril’s the heir to a monstrous legacy. Not exactly a good day, but it gets worse from there.

Lord of Snow and Shadows is really a book about being a victim of fate; not only being a victim, either, but railing against fate and trying to make the choices that aren’t easy, even when other people would give in considering the odds against them. It’s not only Gavril that faces these incredible circumstances, but also his mother, the nobleman’s daughter, and even a serving girl in Gavril’s castle. Most of these people live up to that challenge and come out the other side stronger and better people for it, despite the fact that easy exits are provided for them along the way and they are provided with every motivation to quit.

I was really looking forward to this book for a couple of really foolish reasons – but every girl can be a little foolish once in a while without hurting anything. I really liked this cover. From the standpoint of looking at this cover, it just looked like an amazing book, and I was excited about it.

The second reason is that this book is billed as epic fantasy, and honestly, I really don’t feel like it lives up to this standard; epic fantasy tends to have elaborate plots and sweeping story arcs, but this book was far too straightforward to fit into that category. I really think it was unfair to class this as epic fantasy. If it had been categorized as regular fantasy, just a normal story, I wouldn’t have had such a sour taste in my mouth at the end of it. I also feel like the plot was a little neglected at times, considering that it could have been so much better, in favor of rushing off to do one thing or another. Considering that I also think that the characters were neglected, I sort of want to blame an overzealous editor who wanted to keep the book small. This could have been done in a much better way.

This is not to say that the book isn’t interesting. Having it in a Tsarist Russian setting was unique and gave it a flavor not unlike Paula Volsky’s A Wolf in Winter, a book I very much did enjoy and does indeed deserve to be categorized as epic fantasy, but with a writing style that is much more like Mercedes Lackey and Robin Hobb.

All in all, I’m slightly disappointed. It was a good read and I enjoyed it for that, and I definitely enjoyed Ash’s approach toward her characters and their methods of dealing with the hands they were dealt, but I wouldn’t feel like I’d broken my heart if I sold the book to a used bookstore. I will definitely not be reading the follow-up novels. ( )
1 vote lyrrael | Oct 17, 2015 |
Urban fantasy is becoming more common, with authors such as Charles de Lint heading the pack. But Sarah Ash has broken away from the custom of setting magic in modern-day settings, instead creating a new world where magic and burgeoning modernism exist side-by-side.

Science and magic collide in Lord of Snow and Shadows.

Gavril Andar's quiet life as a painter is shattered when he receives news of his father's death. Lord Volkh hadn't seen his son in years, but now his bloodline's inheritance must be passed on, whether Gavril wants it or not. He must become the Drakhaon, a war leader, and avenge his father's murder.

But mysteries abound when he reaches Azhkendir and assumes leadership. This is a land where restless spirits walk the earth, and treachery waits around every corner. With Volkh's men divided and betrayal souring any chance of an accord, Gavril must form some unlikely alliances if he's to survive. Nothing, however, can protect him from the demonic powers coursing through his own blood. The very thing that makes him his father's true heir may be his ultimate undoing.

Continue reading...
  shelfreflection | Jul 17, 2014 |
Abandoned at about halfway point: repetitive, uninspired writing, uninteresting characters, weird juxtaposition of fantasy with reality, and altogether pretty predictable. ( )
  Stewartry | Oct 15, 2013 |
ereader ebook
  romsfuulynn | Apr 28, 2013 |
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Book description
Seemingly always the outsider, Gavril Andar – an impoverished young painter – yearns to join the privileged circles of Muscobar polite society. However, unbeknownst to him, he does have royal blood in his veins: the dark and powerful blood of a father he never knew – the Drakhaon, ruler of the isolated northern kingdom of Azhkendir. And when the Drakhaon is brutally murdered, an unwilling Gavril is forced to take up the mantle of both his father’s rule – and his power. For blood will out. And the Drakhaon’s carries within it a taint that gives its bearer access to awesome, unimagined magics – but at a soul-shattering price.

Now trapped in this bleak, mist-shrouded land full of superstition and racked by bitter rivalries, Gavril faces an awesome task. He must find his father’s killer and unite his fractured kingdom against those who see it as weak, defenceless and ripe for invasion before he pays the price of kinship and succumbs to the dread curse that uncoils within him . . .
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0553586211, Mass Market Paperback)

Sara Ash's Lord of Snow and Shadows is the promising opener to the Tears of Artamon series. The novel sets the stage in grand fashion as Ash deftly introduces the principal players in her well-realized fantasy realm. She begins with Gavril, a carefree portrait painter basking in the sunny climes of an irrelevant island republic. He soon discovers he is heir to a great and terrible legacy in the snowy wasteland of Azhkendir. Kidnapped by his murdered father’s personal guard, he is both captive and the Drakhoan--ruler of Azhkendir. His inheritance turns out to be more than just a crown, however. A dark force of immeasurable power is growing inside him while he finds his realm under siege from within and without.

Ash masterfully avoids most of the usual fantasy memes--except, of course, the reluctant hero, Gavril--and imports a vast menagerie of technologies and culturally resonant magics into her world. Her conflicting armies wield magic, muskets, and heavy cannon alongside darker forces that are too delicious to mention here. Apart from a few niggling inconsistencies (Gavril's transformation from foppish artist to deft statesman, for one), Ash's novel is a frosty infusion of new air into a genre overrun with the usual maidens-with-broadswords clichés. –-Jeremy Pugh

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:04:45 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Lowly court painter Gavril Nagarian learns that he is the rightful heir to the harsh arctic kingdom of Azhkendir, that he possesses formidable powers that compromise his humanity, and that he is being targeted by bitter rivals who would prevent him from reuniting the kingdom.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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