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The Tower of Shadows    by Drew Bowling order for
Tower of Shadows
by Drew Bowling
Order:  USA  Can
Del Rey, 2006 (2006)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The Tower of Shadows, an impressive debut given the age of its college student author, has all the requisite components - a young hero raised in an ordinary village and unaware that he's special (rather like Robert Jordan's Rand al'Thor); a relative who's fallen to the Dark Side (a brother for a change); and evil unleashed on the world - which felt rather like the steadily spreading doom in Lord of the Rings though the form of horror is unique.

The young hero, Corin Starcross, is saved as a babe by the wizard Dale and mercenary Wren Tident (accompanied by his very pregnant wife Lori). Left behind is Corin's brother Cade, whose thirst for revenge against the evil that killed his parents is soon fueled by sorcery. Cade plans to raise Apollyon, 'the greatest demon of them all', for which he needs a magical knife - and his brother's blood. He hires trained assassins to bring Corin to him, while Dale dispatches his unseasoned and seemingly unskilled apprentice Adriel and a reluctant Wren to protect Corin, whose death would end the world as they know it.

Wren's wife Lori was killed during his previous involvement with the wizard and all he wants to do is raise his teenage daughter Kayla in peace, while she yearns for an adventure rather than the dull books he continually thrusts at her. Soon she's in the middle of a very real one, filled with action, blood and gore. Wren and Kayla (dressed as a boy), Adriel, Corin and his friend Dusty, eventually come together, along with a questing knight named Lancet, and flee from the assassins and their cohorts, barely surviving brushes with them, and with the villainous pirates who killed Wren's father.

Corin does eventually meet his brother and face his doom - his new friends (those who survive) at his side - and Wren comes to terms with his wife's loss and his daughter's coming of age. I found The Tower of Shadows rather like Dungeons & Dragons meets The Wheel of Time, but with added touches of horror, at which the author excels. Drew Bowling has a talent for fantasy and I look forward to reading more of his work as he develops his own strong voice.

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