Shadowbane: Age of Aelfborn by Paul Francois
“During a time of strife, Megildur must traverse Aerynth to rescue his sister and fulfill a destiny ordained by the All-Father. Finding Shadowbane, the mighty but cursed sword, will be challenging enough for this young Aelfborn. In a world torn apart by treachery and conflict, it is every being, or creature, for themselves.
This novel combines qualities from Lord of the Rings© and Greek mythology, with a few twists on some new races…such as Irekei, Aracoix, and of course, Aelfborn. This is the first novel to reveal the lore behind the epic player versus player game, Shadowbane.
Aerynth exists within a shroud of betrayal and deceit for over 100 years. In this realm of chaos, Megildur finds help from an unlikely pair…a sneaky Shade and a nomadic Nephilim. Can this unique trio bring peace and order to Aerynth, or fall prey to the Terror of Terrors?” – From Amazon
Story – Entertaining
The story is perhaps not the most original, and the pacing could be better, but overall Mister Francois delivers a story that is entertaining for those who love the genre. Likely due to his inspiration from Tolkien, from whom so much of the genre is derived, his world feels a little generic at times, though there are moments that are powerful enough to lift off that heavy shroud and show some unique qualities that we cannot give away without telling more than we would like. If you love the works of Tolkien or R. A. Salvatore, Shadowbane has been struck from their molds, leaving something that feels familiar and safe, but still fun.
One place where Shadowbane: Age of Aelfborn shines the most is in the characterization of Megildur, who is everything that we yearn to see in a protagonist, and as we followed him along this journey we could not help but feel for him and grow to love him. Mister Francois has created a vivid world with real characters, and that is no simple task.
“Megildur and Aranel proceeded through the dense forest where their village lay hidden away from the main road. They cleared the last of the trees and both saw the water off to the west. It would still take some time to get closer to the water, but Aranel kept getting more and more excited during the long trek.”
Writing and Formatting – Decent
In reading this, you will run into the standard new author mistakes and small formatting errors that you will not find in professionally published works, but they do not distract too much from the story. The writing is a little stilted at times, and the names vary from intriguing to unpronounceable, but overall, neither of those attributes are unusual for fantasy novels, though perhaps if the prose were improved just a little bit more, the whole thing could be pushed over the top and turned into something amazing.
“Megildur scanned the room to look for help, but nobody even raised their head to see what transpired. He knew it was up to him to help Gaal, or this brute would crush his companion. Megildur picked up a nearby empty pitcher and smashed it over the brute’s head.”
Literary Value – Marginal
Indeed, there is a D&D feel to it that overpowers some of the themes of the work, it feels a little derived and doesn’t touch on as much as perhaps Tolkien himself did. We have been doing a lot of Tolkien name-dropping here, but Mister Francois is not quite there, not yet at least. Given some time and hard work, we believe that Mister Francois has a promising future as an author, and we look forward to seeing what he does next.
“Megildur took Zabrina by the hand and guided her to the balcony outside her room. Megildur’s voice trembled, overlooking the valley below, “The All-Father himself laid my destiny before me to reclaim Shadowbane and to lead Aerynth out of darkness, as the High King.””
Overall – 3.75, Great Fantasy, Decent Book
Indeed, for lovers of the genre, this will check the boxes and meet the marks, but it doesn’t do much more than that, nor do we believe it was intended to. Mister Francois has delivered a compelling story in his debut novel, and it has left us craving more. If you love fantasy as much as we do, then we recommend you pick this little gem up, it is well worth the price.
Want to read Shadowbane: Age of Aelfborn? You can find it on Amazon.