Stalking the Shadows by BJ Edwards
Stone Age Britain: the land is changing, the climate harsh. Mankind teeters on the brink of existence. Driven by fear and starvation, the Chief's son, Dimek, abandons his tribe, leading his men in search of a new land and new gods.
I have always loved tales of the Neanderthal, and seek them out when I see new titles. Some of them are wonderfully done and some of them are not so well done, to put it plainly. I must report that Stalking the Shadows was only fair. I was drawn in immediately by the intro of two Neanderthal hunters finding a boy of the new race, the Homo sapiens. I liked the different points of view of the animals being hunted, and the respect showed them by these “savages,” which I liken to Native American respect for the buffalo, especially Pelydryn. I was engrossed in the story to the point that instead of waiting to read this book I had to put it not only to the top of my list, but also found myself sneaking chapters when I was supposed - neigh, had promised - to do other chores.
Then the unicorn appeared. Suddenly, it seemed like I was in another book, as dragons and Gods and other beings appeared in the story and began to converse back and forth, and also fight. While Dimek, Drushuk (my favourite character, and also the one I most identified with), Kapok, and a few others had been given a solid introduction and background in the beginning of the book (Part 1), the characters that followed in this “new” part of the book were too many, too fast. They had similar sounding names with too little to differentiate them from one another. I found it very difficult to keep them straight (much as in latter books of Robert Jordan's Eye of the World Series).
A lot of punctuation errors, formatting irregularities, and also words used in error (steel in place of steal, for example) detracted from the book. In addition, for much of the book the language was kind of stilted. That made it believable, as it mimicked other works where the “savages” spoke flatly or in coarsely made sentences, like Clan of the Cave Bear. Yet sometimes the language moved into modern speak, such as one character responds, “Dunno yet” or “It is time for di bear to have flees, that a star will be in di lake”. Much of the latter part of the book was either characters boasting of exploits, fighting and killing other characters, or the Gods throwing insults at one another. While I'm not against a lot of battle scenes, Parts II-Part V were basically one battle after another. I had hoped for actual discovery of new lands with details of new creatures encountered, along with these battles.
There were a lot of descriptive passages that were very well done, letting me easily imagine the settings for various scenes, such as the following:
The desert of Simtesh – a barren, blasted place. A place of shifting, whispering blue sands and shining purple crystals. Above the heat haze the sun shone, a terrible blue ball of light, next to it a green moon that seemed to cringe away from its celestial neighbour. The winds blew, a whispering whistle that built into a howling cacophony of sound. The blue sand, sharp and pale, the shards of glistening, beautiful purple crystal began to move - a lethal whirring dust devil was born; a towering awe-inspiring thing that revolved and moved, a lethal destructive force. Once spent, the sand stopped screaming, the wind stopped howling and all was quiet accept for the gentle humming of the heated crystals that mingled with the sand.
This book has a satisfying ending, also.
A fair read, if you are willing to fight more than a little along the way.
Language: some swear words.
Adult Content: No real sexual context, though rape is alluded to in several places as having occurred.
Violence: Many violent scenes and graphic descriptions of battle wounds, and killing with primitive weapons.
This Stalking the Shadows book review was written by Tara Fox Hall
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Stalking the Shadows reader reviews
BJ from Midlands - UK
An interesting, epic novel. Another reviewer mentioned issues with language. The reason why "Da..." is used is because the speaker is a six year old boy, it is not "modern" "street" speak. The book does branch out into more mythic locations, bringing in characters and gods, and so people may find this hard work, but for the purposes of the narrative it is necessary. At heart the book is about changing times, the birth of magic and the evolution of mankind and religion. Wrapped in this is a mythic world of gods, whose struggles mirror man's. Complex? maybe a bit. Well written? hopefully, yes. As for formatting errors - well, appologies, the author is blind and couldn't read the proof. The author's publisher clearly didn't proof read properly. All this said, I do urge you to read the novel, you won't be disappointed.
6.5/10 from 2 reviews
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