Ossus Library Index Fantasy Index

SHADOW MOON

A novel by George Lucas and Chris Claremont (1995, Bantam)
Book 1 in the Chronicles of the Shadow War

Twelve years after a terrible cataclysm, the protector of the sacred Princess, having seen the devastation all over the world, returns to rescue the spoiled Elora as an imposter ensnares the leaders of all the realms.

 

 

2 stars+

Read August 24th to September 13th, in hardcover for the second time  
    There is a great story in here, but the book takes so long to get to any of it, the author uses such difficult language to describe every single thing, that it was a great struggle to get through it at all. There were actually only a few scenes in the whole book, but it took an entire novel to get there.

Full spoiler review:

From the very first chapter, this book felt long. While the prologue managed to convey a new sense of the world for Willow, riding on the dragon in a dream, it also set the stage for the disaster to come. Willow certainly seemed like he was abstaining from his duty to Elora, but it allowed him to survive. After the disaster, Willow takes his new name, Thorn, and we don't see the two human characters from the movie ever again.

It's interesting reading this book for the second time, knowing how it ends, and why the Deceiver tore the places of magic from the world, and tried to kill the baby Elora, and ensnare her when she turned thirteen. Many of the comments that Thorn makes, such as the Deceiver knowing both him and Elora better than they knew themselves, make more sense now.

But the book takes forever to get anywhere. The language is scripted with elaborate descriptions of the scenery and emotions, and just simple observations, most of which mean absolutely nothing. They would be nice to have if they weren't so difficult to read through. Thorn spends dozens of pages investigating the hollow left by the cataclysm, almost turning to stone himself, as the mountain tries to regain a measure of itself through him. He is only saved by the brownies and eagles. There, he fights off death dogs, thought to be extinct by about a year after the movie, with the help of an Angwyn pathfinder soldier, Geryn.

Geryn reminds Thorn of Elora's impending Ascension, her thirteenth birthday, so they travel back to Angwyn, where Elora was magically transported as a baby after the cataclysm (thanks to Willow's gift of a magical bear that very night), through nasty weather on the river by boat.

Thorn is immediately thrown into jail, the most deep and dark cell in the city, which also happens to be haunted by a demon. After being threatened, he escapes thanks to the brownies, and makes his way to Elora's tower. She is portrayed as a spoiled Princess throughout this part of the book. It is obvious that everyone treats her like glass, so she thinks of herself in that way, also, sharp and pointed, and totally reliant on others to do anything she thinks is beneath her status. It's pretty funny to see the way she reacts, throwing food and so on, when she first sees Thorn. She doesn't remember him at all.

It's only later that she grows up, and I find she matures much too fast for the attitude she has learned over the last dozen years. At first she fights Thorn, but very soon learns to accept him. Before that happens, however, Thorn whisks himself out of Elora's tower, through stone, back to his cell, just in time to be tortured, and almost turned into a Death Dog himself. But he is saved by the Demon's strength, and in return, must merge the Demon's offspring into the body of a woman which has been preserved down in the dungeons. The taint of the Demon brings the wrath of the brownies and eagles down on him later, but they, too, forgive him quickly, especially after seeing him heal one of the woodland creatures.

As the leaders of the thirteen realms gather to welcome Elora as their Sacred Princess, the Deceiver, posing as Willow, begins his enchantment. Elora and the dragon representative are immune to the enchantment, but are hard-pressed to escape once it begins. The dragon gives up his life to help Elora escape, and Thorn wastes no time getting her out of the city with Geryn and the Demon's offspring, now called Khory.

The Deceiver turns all of Angwyn to ice, and the lone remaining Princess, Anakerie, believes it is Thorn who caused it, because he alone appeared to escape.

There is another very long sequence where they try to escape by boat again, but the Deceiver's storm pushes against them, and they end up shipwrecked because of it, having made no headway at all. Both Thorn and Elora try to use their magic, but the river doesn't respond well to being told what to do, and the Captain of the ship ends up dying because Thorn has to choose between saving her and keeping the ship out of Angwyn.

They escape through Cherlindrea's forest, which is set to burning by fire drakes. While Thorn keeps the group from burning, Elora manages to calm the fire drakes and send them away. This is where Thorn, after having healed so many of his group already, decides to heal the magical stag that comes to them, burned and ragged. It guides the group into a hollow mountain, an ancient seat of power, where they are to be judged by the magical animals of that realm.

But Anakerie and Geryn arrive with the Thunder Riders, and attack, killing the stag, and separating the group so the Deceiver can work his magic again on Elora. But she shuns him, and Thorn traps him momentarily as they escape through the rock. Modhri, the leader of the Thunder Riders, is nearly killed, but the Deceiver takes his body as a corporeal form of his own. He and Thorn face off inside the rocks of the mountain, where Elora is nearly captured also. But Thorn unleashes ancient volcanic vents, turning the ancient mountain into a roiling volcano, and they manage to escape again.

The magic in this book is different from most magics I've read, in that it is persuasive, instead of simply imposition of change. When Thorn works magic on wood, he has the wood recall its early days as a tree, alive and malleable, so that he can transform it into something that he needs or wants. The mountain at the beginning of the book does the same thing to him, giving him their memories of a vast and spectacular range. At the end, he wakes the old mountain, which recognizes the Deceiver's malice, and decides to do something about it -erupt.

The story itself is interesting, and has some very memorable moments. The characters, for the most part, are engaging and fun. I especially liked Khory, who has no fear, super strength and amazing learning abilities, thanks to the Demon that inhabits her. But going through pages and pages to get from moment to moment was plain difficult, and I wonder if it was really worth the effort.
 

 

2 stars

Read May 25th to June 12th, 1996, in hardcover  
    The sequel to the movie Willow. The book moved along at such a slow pace.  Only a few exciting moments.  The characters were developed well, but there also appeared to missing many parts, where they would come to major realizations! Those realizations came too suddenly.  
   

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