REVIEW: Greatshadow: The Dragon Apocalypse by James Maxey

DISCLAIMER: After seeing a post on Mr Maxey’s blog, I volunteered to provide a review and was sent a preview copy.

Greatshadow is a very ambitious book that aims high and, for the most part, gets there. When I read the premise of the novel I was intrigued and penciled it in as something to keep an eye out for, hence why I leapt at the chance to get an advance reading. I had read one of Mr Maxey’s earlier books and, while I had found it a bit rough around the edges, I had really enjoyed the fast pace and frenetic action. I was hoping for more of the same in Greatshadow, and I was most definitely not disappointed.

Greatshadow starts with action, and doesn’t really let up for the rest of the book. I loved the narrator, who is unreliable in the true sense of the world, and I had to admire Mr Maxey’s ingenious solution to the problem of how a narrator sees things that are going on in places other than his physical location. While the narrator is far from perfect, we do find ourselves on his side, hoping for a happy ending. This “everyman” character gives us a point of engagement as we see the other characters through his eyes.

And, the real strength of Greatshadow truly does lie with its ensemble of super powered warriors, each of whom has a unique set of gifts. I won’t go into details as discovering them is half the fun for the reader, but Mr Maxey really has done an exceptional job of taking the standard fantasy archetypes (the paladin, the warrior princess, the mysterious eastern warrior and so one) and giving them his own, special twist. There was one hero in particular whose powers really impressed me as a fresh idea, and whose downfall was incredibly ingenious (if I say it’s to do with prayer you will find out who I mean!).

The only real problems I had with the book were some sloppy editing (changes of tense that seemed odd, for example) and the sometimes sophomoric humour and attitudes to women. The humourous shortcomings may just be to do with my taste, but I thought that some of the sexual references were a bit juvenile and that, while there are some very strong female characters, women too often fell into wish fulfilment territory.

Imagine David Gemmell crossed with “Grunts” by Mary Gentle, and it might give you an idea of what to expect. If you are after a book that is action packed, has some incredibly imaginative heroes, monsters and villains and can handle a bit of blood and guts then this is well worth your while. I know I would have been happy to have paid for a book that was this entertaining, and I will most definitely be buying the next one.

You can buy Greatshadow here.


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