Shadow Prowler by Alexey Pehov

Published by Simon & Schuster

Like many people these days when faced with an author for the first time you head straight to Google and tap in the name, I did this with Alexey Pehov and was shocked when it returned just 33,700 results. This is something that will soon change, Shadow Prowler is going to make Alexey one of the names in fantasy literature; he is of course well known in Russia where his books have quickly become not only award winning but best sellers.
Perhaps I’m getting a little ahead of myself, I should start this review at the very beginning. Shadow Prowler has a real fantasy cover, the modern trend of a more graphical approach to book covers is perhaps a clever one to some people, to me it has always been a disappointment, I like the cover to draw me in. Whilst I still agree that we should not judge a book by it’s cover I find a good  illustration goes hand in hand with a good fantasy or science fiction book. The content of the book is of course the most important part, and with Shadow Prowler it was the part I was really unsure about at first. Perhaps I should clarify this a little… whenever I see a publisher get really enthusiastic about a book I start to wonder if they have in fact discovered they are about to publish a lemon and need to create some hype to get the sales figures up (maybe I need to see someone about my cynicism). So, when I started to read Shadow Prowler it was with a certain degree of dread that I was going to be either asleep by the end of page two or doodling in the margins; my sense of dread was misplaced, Alexey has a style of writing which draws you in and makes you want to keep reading.
Some of the fantasy you read these days falls into one of two groups – either the plot is well defined and the characters are flat and without dimension, or the plot is terrible and the characters are great. Alexey has however managed to create good characters and a well defined exciting plot, the character of Shadow Harold legendary master thief of Avendoom at first made me think of Feist’s Midkemia but these thoughts quickly passed as the story drew me further and further in. There is no long drawn out scene development taking up most of the first chapter, Alexey drops you right into the action and you see the streets of Avendoom through the eyes of Shadow Harold. Within the pages of Shadow Prowler you’ll meet ogres, giants, elves, but certainly not as you’ve met them before. You could say the elves of Alexey are a refreshing change from those most fantasy readers are familiar with, which is one of the (many) good things about this book, he does not stick to the stereotypical elf or warrior lead characters but explores the fantasy genre in a new exciting way. Now I can see why Simon & Schuster were so excited about publishing this book, as it’s going to be a book that most fantasy readers will want to read and explore. I can imagine in a few weeks time the internet will be awash with talk about Shadow Prowler, and eager readers wondering when the next book in the trilogy will hit the shelves.
In short, if you like reading fantasy, you’ll love reading this book it’s out in the UK on the 1st of April 2010.

Shadow Prowler (Chronicles of Siala 1)

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