Title: Dolor and Shadow
Book 1 of the Tales of the Drui series
Author: Angela B. Chrysler
Amazon Rating: 4.2/5
Pages: 520 (Paperback)
Publisher: Angela B. Chrysler
Date Published: July 3, 2015
As the elven city burns, Princess Kallan is taken to Alfheim while a great power begins to awaken within her. Desperate to keep the child hidden, her abilities are suppressed and her memory erased. But the gods have powers as well, and it is only a matter of time before they find the child again. When Kallan, the elven witch, Queen of Lorlenalin, fails to save her dying father, she inherits her father’s war and vows revenge on the one man she believes is responsible: Rune, King of Gunir. But the gods are relentless, and when a twist of fate puts Kallan into the protection of the man she has sworn to kill, Rune obtains a power he does not understand. From Alfheim, to Jotunheim, and then lost in the world of Men, these two must form an alliance to make their way home, and try to solve the lies of the past and of the Shadow that hunts them all.
My Take: I was immediately entranced with the premise of the book, since it envisions Viking/Norse mythology from the perspective of the elves. I knew, going in, that there would be a lot to love about the world being built and, in that aspect, I was not disappointed in the least. The worldbuilding here is magnificent and, once you get used to the onslaught of names and places, you can really begin to feel immersed in the world. Things are just so well-developed in this book that it feels reminiscent of the wholeness that Tolkien brought together with Middle-Earth in his books. This is one of the greatest strengths a book can have, that synergy with the wholeness of the world that allows for complete immersion, and is one of the things I love the most about reading fantasy novels.
This book has moments of darkness in there, with some pretty brutal scenes happening to one of the main characters. They prove to be quite essential to the development of both the plot and that main character, and the amount of detail given during said scenes are rather minimal in comparison to some other dark fantasy novels I have read this year. Just be aware, if you are a sensitive reader, that there will be some chapters in the middle that may make you a bit uncomfortable.
One of the biggest issues I had came in the first hundred pages or so. There are so many characters and balls juggling in the air and shifts in POV that it was confusing trying to decipher who was central to the story and what is going on and how much time has elapsed. By the time the POV settled down upon the two central characters, the struggle went away and some of the events became clearer, although I probably would need to revisit those first hundred pages now to really grasp all that happened and the implications of those things.
The other big detraction came about from the ending which, ultimately, felt like a forced ending point. The main characters still have not reached their intended destination, and the only resolution came from meeting up with a character while driving off, at least temporarily, the threat that was pursuing them. The consolation is that there is a new book in the series coming next month (which I am very excited about and plan to read as soon as I can cross a few other books off my list) which should progress things beyond where the first one left off.
As a whole this book was very good and certainly is one I would recommend to anyone who loves grand worldbuilding in fantasy, dark fantasy stories, interesting magic systems, Norse mythology, and complex female protagonists. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and look forward to reading more books by Angela.