FROM THE BOOK COVER:In Shade and Shadow is the first book in a new spin-off fantasy series that features Wynne (a sage) and Chane (a Noble Dead) who were secondary characters in the original six book Noble Dead series. Wynne has parted ways with Magiere, Leesil and Chap who are off disposing of the Orb. Chane has secretly followed Wynne across the sea to her homeland.
After escaping the castle of ancient vampires with Magiere and Leesil, Wynn Hygeorht has returned to Calm Seatt, home of the Guild of Sagecraft, bearing texts supposedly penned by vampires from the time of the Forgotten History and the Great War. Her superiors seize both the ancient texts and her personal journals, dismissing her tales of the undead as delusional fancies.
But the guild's scholars have not dismissed the texts. Without Wynn's consent, they begin sending the texts out to scriptoriums for copying. Then one night several pages disappear — and the two sages charged with conveying these pages are murdered. Suspicious of the Guild, separated from the only friends she fully trusts, and convinced the Noble Dead are responsible for the killings, Wynn embarks on a quest to uncover the secrets of the texts, unaware of her allies from unexpected quarters....
In Shade and Shadow is a departure from the high adventure of the first series and presents us with more of a detective/murder mystery atmosphere. From the cloistered environment of the Guild castle Wynn seeks answers to many questions. Are there Noble Dead in Calm Seatt? Why has she been marginalized by the Guild? What are the secrets contained in the scrolls brought back from her journey with Magiere and Leesil? Who is stealing the translations and murdering her fellow sages?
I was very much reminded of Umberto Eco’s historical whodunnit The Name of the Rose as I read In Shade and Shadow as both deal with scholarly characters, aspects of semiotics and a sinister murder mystery. Being cast into the role of outsider, Wynn is forced to primarily rely only on herself, her mentor and her hard-won experience to affect events which she is certain are all centred on the Noble Dead and the returning rise of ancient evil forces. Step by step, Wynn unravels the clues, leveraging her unique knowledge to research and nudge others to do her bidding.
The world of the Noble Dead series created by the Hendee’s is rich and textured, and In Shade and Shadow continues to add layers to the tapestry and delve into the mysteries of the vampires. Wynn’s personality evolves considerably from the original quiet, unassertive sage into a more empowered and driven character. Wynn acquires her own fae wolf as a companion and before the conclusion, it is obvious that Chane also wishes to be reunited with Wynne. Together they form an even more unlikely group then her original group of adventurers.
For readers of the earlier series, don’t expect the same energy-laden level of adventure. In Shade and Shadow takes a more studied approach in keeping with the nature of the new cast of characters. That is not a bad thing, merely different. However, I suspect things will ramp up in subsequent books as Wynn departs the Guild castle and the city in search of more answers with her newly acquired companions.
I found the book quite engaging, although I must admit I missed the dynamics of Magiere and Leesil somewhat. In Shade and Shadow does a creditable job of introducing many of the highlights of the back story from the previous series making it accessible to new readers. However given the opportunity, I would highly recommend reading the books from the first series as there has been a significant amount of world-building over the course of six books and it is not to be missed. Vampires in urban fantasy are a common theme, in regular fantasy not so much and the Noble Dead series is not to be missed. Readers of Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels books should also like this. Recommended.
AUTHOR AND BOOK SHOWCASEOfficial ‘Noble Dead’ Website
Official Barb Hendee Website
Official Barb Hendee Blog
Official J.C. Hendee Blog
Penguin Group (USA)
Noble Dead Series 1:
Noble Dead Series 2: