Review copy was received from Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Shadows of Ivory by TL Greylock, Bryce O'Connor
Narrator: Kate Reading
Series: Godforged Chronicles #1
Published by Tantor Audio on August 4, 2020
Length: 18 hours, 17 minutes
Amazon, Audible, Audiobook
By day, Eska de Caraval digs for ancient treasure in the dust and dirt and sweltering sun. By night, she dons the embroidered silks and jewels that are the markings of her family's success. Spurred by a relentless thirst to lay bare the world's secrets, Eska has led Firenzia Company to renown across the Seven Cities of Bellara, and far beyond. But when she comes into possession of a priceless reliquary with a harrowing history--one of six lost to the centuries--and the treacherous artifact within, Eska unwittingly sets off a race to uncover the other five and the powers they contain.
Bankrupt and bitter, Manon Barca supports a brother and a failing company on loans she cannot repay, all while her disgraced father rots in prison. Determined to drag her family name out of oblivion, Manon does not fear to take on the might of Eska de Caraval and Firenzia Company, even if it means sabotaging an excavation and endangering innocent lives. When her reckless decisions put her at the mercy of one of the most powerful men in the Seven Cities, Manon finds herself caught in a storm beyond her making, one that will see the sundering of alliances that have stood for three hundred years.
As the de Caraval and Barca rivalry surges, Eska must wield intellect and steel against a web of enemies and deceit, all while Manon battles tirelessly to preserve the final remnants of her family and its legacy.
Neither, however, is prepared to contend with the rising tide of an ancient menace unleashed upon the world once more..
I read quite a bit of fantasy and so for me Shadows of Ivory is a good story and a good start to the Godforged Chronicles. It does everything it is supposed to do. It sets up the main characters, starts all the world building, lays out the general conflicts and gives the reader just enough to become invested in characters and plots. That said, it is a little bit slower paced but still extremely interesting.
This reminds me a little of National Treasure and Indiana Jones if they were set somewhere during the renaissance and there just happened to me some magical people. Told mostly from two PoVs with a third PoV on a few chapters, and interludes set to give the reader some background information, was a really good layout for the story and made sure the reader is aware of some of the things that the characters are not aware of. It was a really good way to help the reader with some of the context of the entire world.
Eska and Manon are from rival archeological families. We find in the early stages that Manon’s family has been backed into a corner so to speak and needs a big win in order to survive. Manon is willing to cut and corners and even hurt people in order to save it. Eska, on the other hand loves archeology and finding treasures of the past. She is in it for the history and not really the money. She is just as enamored of pottery as she is of jeweled items. I liked how the contrast to their situations made them very different characters and while it is easier to root for Eska, I could see where Manon was coming from most of the time.
Both women can be impetuous and rash and are alike in a lot of ways. Still I don’t think they will ever find a way to friendship especially since Manon is a carrier and can wield fire magic and she tried to blow Eska’s ship up once.
The world and lore really are the most interesting things in the book. There is a strange bronze disk for the cruel past when magic wielders ruled violence and steal. So many atrocities were committed by them until they were overthrown centuries ago. As the details are teased out, I became more invested in the story and anxious to find out what the disks mean and how the ghosts of the past might be haunting the present and future. There is a lot of potential for where the next book can go.
The characters are decently developed. Manon and Eska both seem slightly single minded and sometimes that is a bit frustrating for me. Albus is the sparse but important third PoV and he is a wonderful change up from the women. As a Librarian, he holds a lot of knowledge and ends up in a pretty precarious position. His story became my favorite as he was absconded by pirates. I’m definitely invested in the trouble he has gotten himself into.
Overall a solid story with some great set up for more to come, a decent amount of action coupled with political intrigue and demons from the past. But pay attention or the important details might pass you by.
Kate Reading is a narrator I know well. I’ve listened to her for all of the Stormlight Archives series and Wheel of Time. She presents epic fantasy well and is really good with the large cast of characters in this. I was able to listen at my usual 1.5x speed.
Listen to a clip: HERE
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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- Robin Audio20