All the Paths of Shadow ~ Frank Tuttle

  • Title: All the Paths of Shadow
  • Author: Frank Tuttle
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Format: Kindle
  • Source: Own
  • Reviewed by: Olga
  • Rating: 4 out of 5

Description:  The king’s orders were clear enough. “Move the tower’s shadow,” he bellowed. “I refuse to deliver my commencement speech from the dark.”

As the newly appointed mage to the Crown of Tirlin, Meralda Ovis has no choice but to undertake King Yvin’s ill-conceived task. Tirlin’s first female mage, and the youngest person to ever don the robes of office, Meralda is determined to prove once and for all that she deserves the title. The Tower, though, holds ancient secrets all its own. Secrets that will soon spell destruction for all of Tirlin—-unless Meralda can unravel a monstrous curse laid by a legendary villain seven centuries before she was born.

An ancient curse. A haunted tower. A clamorous gathering of nobles, mages, and kings from the Five Realms come together in Tirlin for the fifth-year Accords. Meralda finds herself facing far darker foes than any mere shadow of the tower.

Review: 
An enjoyable light fantasy, this novel blends steampunk and magic, dirigibles and talking plants into a charming, seamless tale. The protagonist Meralda is the new Thaumaturge of Tirlin. Despite being only eighteen, she is the smartest mage the kingdom has known for centuries, a brilliant girl genius – a refreshingly original concept in fantasy fiction. She fights no battles; she embarks on no quests. Instead, moving between her home and her laboratory, she solves problems, using magic, mathematics, and her formidable intellect.

Her newest problem seems unsolvable: for the king’s upcoming speech at the congregation of five nations, he ordered her to move the ancient Tower’s shadow. As the story progresses, the shadow moving project becomes the least of Meralda’s concerns. There is a villainous mage on the loose in Tirlin, and he is determined to inflict disaster on Meralda’s beloved homeland. Stopping the evil mage ranks highest on her list of priorities.

Besides, the Tower itself doesn’t seem happy that Meralda is tinkling with its shadow. According to the rumors, the Tower is haunted. Although Meralda is an enlightened thaumaturge and doesn’t believe in ghosts, the Tower’s ghost has other ideas. He does all in his power to frighten her away.

But Meralda is an amazingly resourceful young lady. She thwarts the vile mage’s sinister plans, tames the recalcitrant ghost of the Tower, fixes the ancient curse, and handles the two retired mages, her former mentors, set on mischief.  And she moves the Tower’s shadow in time for the king’s speech.

The plotline runs very fast, twisting constantly in unexpected directions, but no matter how many obstacles the author heaps in his heroine’s way, Meralda is always up to snuff. She also has a knack of attracting friends. A number of secondary characters, colorful and three-dimensional, help Meralda in her most arduous tasks. Her former teachers, the old magicians, are always on the periphery of the story, always ready with an impish piece of magic. Her clever pet Mug – a talking houseplant with twenty-nine eyes – invariably entertains readers with his sarcastic observations and no-nonsense advices to his mistress. A bit of romance with a handsome young foreigner doesn’t hurt the story either.

Although Meralda often doubts herself, like any girl of eighteen, she emerges the winner out of every encounter in this irreverent and humorous story. The only problem of this novel: it’s a bit too long. Otherwise, a great read. Recommended to any fantasy fan.

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