Lord of Snow and Shadows by Sarah Ash
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.
Ash jumps into the action a bit too quickly. Unlike Erikson’s novel, which demands that readers pick things up as they go along, Ash provides a sketchy set-up that feels rushed when events are set in motion. The author may have been trying to find a balance between pacing and action, but she didn’t quite make it.
Once the story starts, though, readers are presented with a provocative blend of political intrigue and shape-changing magic. Gavril becomes a holder of mystical power in a world on the cusp of modern science and industrialism. The duality is interesting, and it provides opportunities to compare and contrast these two diametrically opposite concepts.
Although guilty of a shaky start, Lord of Snow and Shadows soon picks up the pace and becomes a good creative effort.