Paperback ✓ Shadowbridge MOBI ↠

One of the most remarkable and uniue fantasy books I've read in a while Shadowbridge is about a watery world where a giant bridge goes on forever branching off into different spans and spirals held together by an unknown magic and the whim of the Edgeworld gods No one knows where it ends or if it does in fact end or even how it came to be There is some land islands hills suddenly appearing but the people on the Shadowbridge care nothing for how their food gets to the market or why some spans are blessed and others are left to rotAcross the spans travels Leodora daughter of the famous puppeteer Bardsham She grew up on an island called Bouyan raised by her overbearing uncle until he pushes things too far and she escapes to the bridge with her father's old friend Soter and two large cases of shadow puppets Like her father before her she collects the stories of the spans and performs them for large crowds all under the psuedonym of Jax because women aren't so welcome here or anywhereShe has a mysterious Coral Man in the bottom of one case that for years called to her from the bottom of the sea Soter is harbouring secrets about her parents both gone now Their new musician Diverus has been blessed by the gods with the ability to play any musical instrument put in his hands And two 'men' on a scary black ship are hunting LeodoraThis is the first half of a two book story to be concluded in Lord Tophet It is so well written you wouldn't be able to edit out a single sentence I'm uite in awe The characters are well developed and interesting; Leodora especially is engaging uick and brave Diverus I'm sure we'll get to know better in the next book but I've already got a sweet spot for him All sorts of creatures populate the spans from all sorts of mythology including Asian and the architecture is just as wildly imaginative such as the candy coated homes of one ancient span I don't usually care for stories within a book they tend to bore me But the stories in Shadowbridge are wonderful I particularly liked the one about how Death met his bride There are still many unanswered uestions about this world but everything is carefully revealed and paced and it's so well written I just have to say that again that it's hard to believe one man came up with this from his own imagination I loved this book and I highly recommend it This book felt a lot longer to me than it actually was I even picked it up because epic fantasy stories that aren't 600 pages long are rare but it almost felt like it had that many pages after all For some reason the story just seemed to drag on forever to me Shadowbridge is the story of a puppeteer that collects stories and plays them out so this book contains many shorter stories that people tell to her or that she tells to the reader There was nothing really wrong with this format exactly but there were many stories that didn't really feel like they were going anywhere or had a larger purpose to the book There was also a flashback to the main character's past a little bit into the book that seemed to be almost 13 of the entire book in length which was part of what made this book so slow I probably would have been able to move past that if the story didn't go straight into anotherflashback almost straight after this time of a different character that then becomes a larger character as well I felt like between the different stories the long flashbacks and the amount of time spent worldbuilding there was almost no main plot to this book Something only happens right at the very end but I don't really care enough about the story to find out what it is in the seuel I do want to make a note about the worldbuilding because the concept of it is really interesting and I really enjoyed the way it was described A world that's na eternal bridge over a seemingly endless body of water has so much potential that wasn't realized very much which is a shame 25 to 30 stars This is a tough one to review because of all the potentially great things about this book The problem is that with rare exceptions the potential was never realized BRIEF SYNOPSIS The story concerns a young shadow puppeteer Leodora who travels the world of Shadowbridge performing stories for audiences based on the myths and legends of the world Shadowbridge itself is a huge series of bridges each span individually named and having a different culture THE GOODGregory Frost is a good writer His prose is elegant and descriptive In addition the world of Shadowbridge has the potential to be one of those memorable creations like Jack Vance's Dying Earth or Gene Wolfe's world from the Book of the Long Sun Finally myths and legends when told in the book ie the stories within the story are mostly excellent and very well done THE BADMuch of what is bad in the book is directly a result of what I think was a mishandling of what is good First the world of Shadowbridge is only hinted at and hardly described or explored at all Beyond a few enticing comments there is no back story info dumps or explorations of this incredible creation of a world made up entirely of bridges Second the stories within the story are far to few and FAR to long in between After the first 30 pages in which there are two myth stories and I thought the book was going to be great there is an 80 page flashback to Leodora's childhood that is DRY BORING AND COMPLETELY STALLS THE PLOT After a brief advancing of the main plot there is YET ANOTHER FLASHBACK this one focusing on the other main character a god touched musician named Diverus This flashback is shorter and interesting but still leaves you feeling like the plot is meandering and getting nowhere Now I have not read the seueal Lord Tophet A Shadowbridge Novel which I understand really should have been combined with this novel to make one complete story Given the uality of Frost's writing and the promise of the world he has created I will certainly read the seuel and hope that this promise is finally realized I'll preface this by saying that I don't generally do well with epic sweeping tales of fantasy If you do then by all means take my commentary with a grain of salt The story is lyrical but I can't get the beat Shadowbridge is an epic sort of tale and within it are the yarns of different cultures different civilizations All of these stories are collected and held dear by a young puppeteer named Leodora Frost creates here a world filled with myth and magic and the blessings of the gods He begins with Leodora's history her childhood and early womanhood telling us how the puppeteer came to her craft Her parents are mysterious figures of whom she catches glimpses through the stories of her aunt and of her father's old manager Soter The story is slow moving as most epic tales are until she meets the musician Diverus The tempo picks up and curiosity is almost peakedBut there aren't any resolutions to be found in this part of the story Instead we're left with lots of uestions And under that deluge of uestions it's hard to muster up enough interest in the answers Frost gives us a taste of the possibly sinister machinations at work but doesn't give us enough info to make us long for the answers There is a second part to the story called Lord Tophet and perhaps if both pieces were one volume the reader wouldn't feel so lost so confused At the end of Shadowbridge we're left with no clue what the hell is going on And without that clue I for one don't really care to find out All that aside the world concept of endless spans of bridges is interesting but without the cover illustration it's sort of hard to conjure a mental image The avatars of the gods are the most interesting characters and seem far full of life than the protagonist The tales that Leodora collects are fascinating especially those told by Kitsune and the Ondiont The follow up story may be worth reading merely for of these captivating myths You rattle the darkness where you walk JaxEnter Shadowbridge a world of linked spiraling spans of bridges on which all impossibilities can happen Ghosts parade inscrutable gods cast riddles and dangerous magic is unleashedMonstrous creatures drain the lives of children and for a price you can sample their fleeting uintessence provided the creatures don't sample you insteadTraveling these spans is a brilliant secretive shadow puppeteer called Jax who knows all the stories of love of war of the gods and even of Death and his loverBut Jax has than a few secrets too not the least of which is his true identity that of Leodora daughter of the greatest storyteller who ever played the spans and the woman known as the Red Witch Lyrical novel about a puppeteer her musician accompaniest and a strange and wonderful world teeming with people all of whom live on or below a bridge The novel is generally divided into sections and interludes Various interludes are stories about or by gods or avatars of gods demons death and the maker of the world The sections are bigger stories about two of the main characters Lea and Devirtus both of whom have encounters with the Gods Unlike Frost's earlier book Lyrec this book kind of ends abruptly in the middle of the storyI really enjoyed the novels lycrical prose and the novel world that the story is set in Shadowbridge by Gregory Frost This is the first book of a two book adventure The second book is called Lord Tophet Gregory Frost's other works include; Attack of the Jazz Giants and Other Short Stories Fitcher's Bride The Pure Cold Light Tain Remscela and LyrecThe story is about a puppeteer named Leodora who discovers that her father was the great shadow puppeteer named Bardsham It also tells the story of the troupes musician Diverus and his strange background The story is mostly filled with the stories that Leodora or commonly known as Jax tells during her shadow puppet plays Most of the short stories have to do with the creation of the world which is mostly consisting of a sea and spanned by bridges called the Shadowbridge On these bridges or spans most of the worlds populace live with others living on little islands around the spans The main focus however is on the back stories of the two main characters Leodora and Jax With Leodora's back story you learn that she was raised by her grandfather grandmother aunt and uncle in a small fishing island beneath the Shadowbridge Their family brings the fish to market up on the Shadowbridge During a trip Leodora gets separated from her uncle and grandfather and is almost kidnapped when her family rescues her After the attempted kidnapping her life changes dramatically and she runs away from home with her father's friend Soter who brought Leodora back to her family after her birth Diverus' story on the other hand is much different He was born mentally challenged and through the power of a nameless god he becomes aware But he is thrown into a disgusting and horrified world before meeting LeodoraNegatives1 Lack of Story There doesn't really seem to ever be a solid story Really this book is just a bunch of shorter stories with little patches in which a main story is told after the tales Also about half the book is back story for the two main characters While the 'real' story doesn't start up until the last fifty pages for the majority of the book it really just feels like an anthology and really nothing else At times it was a little frustrating to not have a main story line and that everything that happens in the present is seeped in mystery2 Scene Breaks It was hard at times to know when a scene was done When a scene was over there was a strip of nothing to symbolize this What my problem with that was after a tale was told it ended at the end of a page and when the next page started I wasn't sure why suddenly we were in the present again It was a little disorienting3 Jax's Identity In the start of the story we were told the reason why Leodora is Jax is because women in this world aren't usually allowed to do things she was doing This is why she was Jax her male disguise Which is fine and understandable but after we meet Diverus it just suddenly is known she's a woman yet at the same time it wasn't It was a little confusing The scene doing this is when Jax is trying to hide from a tavern keeper's wife's 'needs' The problem was that we knew that Jax was Leodora yet every other time when Jax was mentioned it was followed with Leodora and it felt a little confusing and awkward to read something that the character was referred to in two different waysPositives1 Stories Honestly they were just great They were interesting well told and really helped understand the world They had the feel of mythology and religions that we have in our world today Some of the stories involved various gods and heroes reflecting things in Greek and Roman mythology Then other stories told of the creation of the world and how death came to be I really thought they were clever and how they were introduced was just wonderful2 Back Stories Just like the tales within the stories the back stories were just wonderful They really make you care about the characters and gave a lot of insight to their personal state of being Not only that but they were disturbing in various ways Each story made me feel disgusted by what happens to the characters and it really makes you feel emotion towards them3 Cliffhanger This is yet another story that has a cliffhanger that makes it so that you can't wait to pick up the next book This is mostly caused by the fact that you have little story and you hope that the mysteries that were given are explained in some way in the next installment Still the story hooks you in a way that you don't want to let goSide Notes1 Myths and Tales While I mentioned them above they still were great I really hope to read about this world and the various things about it2 Shadowbridges They were just simply interesting How something came to be is an interesting uestion and I liked how each span was totally different and consisted of a different culture Even the descriptions made them sound impressive3 Cover Art I do like it It does give a wonderful example of the bridge and how crowded it is It's just pretty and not really all that busy for your eyes to look atOverall 45Final ThoughtsEven though there is no real story line until the last thirty or so pages it was interesting reading about the various tales Now I'm a sucker for mythology like what was given and the tales were entertaining to say the least The characters were great because you connected with them and I did feel bad about some of the things they've been through It really is an entertaining fun read I read this novel for calicoreaction's February Dare Challenge I really enjoyed the January Dare read Replay who I ended up lending to my mom and she loved it too so I snatched this from my local used book store thankfully they had it because nowhere else in town did and snuck into my reading schedule I've been super busy this month and haven't had a lot of time for reading so thankfully this book was fairly short Unfortunately this book is also a duology and there is no doubt in my mind that it was originally written to be one single book but on that in the review No spoilers so if you want to read the full review no need to worry To start I have to say I really enjoyed this book Calico has yet to be let me downThis book's strength is in my opinion found in the world building The spans the spirals the bridge everything just sounded so cool It sounded like a world where I would want to live I love how the cover depicted pretty much how I pictured the world so kudos to awesome cover designsThe story had a very fairy tale esue feel to it with Leodora being a Cinderella of sorts she's an orphan who's raised by her pretty evil uncle is ostracized by the entire community and ends up running away so that she can become a shadow puppeteer following in the footsteps of her late father Leodora's back story was very sad and I felt really empathetic towards her Poor girl couldn't get a break Her pathetic story also had a very magical feel pervading throughout and it really just fitted well with the story and the setting I don't know how to explain it but this whole book had something special about it that I can't uite put my finger on This can also be said about Diverus' story which while I found a little boring at first for some reason really gripped me after awhile I especially liked how the brothels worked You think they're prostituting young boys for sex but it's actually something completely different and also very magical like the rest of the book It was very neat and a nifty little bit of world building which Frost has proven he's very adept at The theme behind the book is also very well executed the power of stories and how they change I absolutely loved the stories that were told by the different characters throughout the story and how even some of the flashbacks were pulled off such as Diverus' which is introduced by something along the lines of This is how Leodora told his story or something to that effect; just brilliant Again and I can't stress this enough it just all felt so magical and really amped the atmospherefeeling this novel gives off The one thing to keep in mind when reading this book is something I mentioned above this series is only two books long and I'm pretty positive it was meant to be one single book For one you can tell by the pacing This whole first volume is set up so if you don't keep in mind that this book was intended to be one volume then the pacing can come off as really slow or uneven I've read reviews where people have said that they felt like nothing happens in this book that it's all flashbacks and for the most part this is true though I would argue about nothing happening uite a bit happens I thought but if this were one book it would really come off uite well So just something to keep in mind when reading Also the book ends on a complete cliff hanger so it would be wise to have the seuel on hand if you find yourself liking this first installment Final Verdict I whole heartedly recommend this novel It's uite different from your usual fantasy fare and has some beautiful world building Frost has also proven to be an adept story teller by giving us a story about stories The book is all very fairy tale esue and exudes a very magical feel that just made me all warm and fuzzy and was really immersive Be warned though if you're going to read this book as soon as you find yourself to start liking it make sure to get Lord Tophet the seuel I don't have a copy yet as they didn't carry it at any of the book stores where I live but I'm visiting my boyfriend out of town this week so I'm off to go buy myself a copy very shortly And I have to say I can't wait to read the seuel Roughly 60% of this book is backstory I don't mean exposition in the prose and dialogue that when pieced together provides a background for the character I mean that after the first chapter the book literally backs up and tells the life story of the main character Finally about 80 pages later the story resumes For about a page Then we get to experience the life story of another character After all that is over another 25% of the book consists of stories and fables that the main character tells or collects The remainder is devoted to world building and plot Despite that small amount of space devoted to world building the author does a rather good job of it so I must congratulate him for that Unfortunately the book pretty much has no plot A summary of it could be given thuslyWhat you learn 1 The characters are running from something mysterious in their past2 Leodora and Diverus two of the characters are touched by gods3 There's some dude named Lord Tophet involvedWhat you don't learn1 What they are running from2 Anything about how gods work in this world3 Who the hell Lord Tophet is In the end I found Shadowbridge to be unsatisfying and irritatingly slow Nothing really happens until the end at which point there is a cliffhanger and a tease for the next book Disapointing I returned to this book a year later and discovered it still holds up perfectly All that remains of civilization is a series of seemingly infinite bridges with each neighborhood or span having a distinct cultural theme The MC was brought up in one of the many fishing settlements at the base of the bridge think Water World A career of puppetry offers her the chance to pave a life of her own at bridge level Along the way she picks up stories that are presented in a fashion similar to Arabian Nights But some spans are dangerous than others and she might find herself on the wrong end of the bridge Such a vivid uniue fantasy book Highly recommended Shadowbridge


About the Author: Gregory Frost

Gregory Frost is an American author of fantasy science fiction and thrillers He directs the fiction writing workshop at Swarth College in Swarth Pennsylvania He received his Bachelor's degree from the University of Iowa A graduate of the iconic Clarion Workshop he has taught at Clarion several times including the first session following its move to the University of California at Sa


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