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A Whisper in the Shadows

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A Whisper in the Shadows
When the Ranger Baric meets the exotic and alluring woman from Vaar'da, called Whisper, he agrees to assist her on what seems a simple rescue mission that soon turns into something far more complicated than he expected. Their journey soon becomes a deadly and suicidal quest into the Great Divide, an area of Hir where men fear to travel, into the realm of the demonic Manenase, who live under a great volcano in the center of the Boiling Sea.

The fate of Hir depends on the courage and skills of the heroic Rangers and their small Vaar'da companion, as they struggle to save the world of Hir from impending disaster.

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Baric’s aim was true, and the arrow pierced the stag just behind the shoulder, straight into the heart. An instant and clean kill.

Standing, he and Whisper walked toward the downed animal. There would be enough meat there for several meals. Their progress was suddenly halted by a low growl to their left and slightly behind them, and they froze in their tracks.

Turning his head, Baric saw something he had never seen before, though he had heard descriptions. They did no justice to the vision now facing him. It was indeed a lion. The mane, long and full, and the tufted tail fit the picture his imagination had painted, but to see, in the flesh, an actual lion before him was so much more awe-inspiring than he could have ever imagined.

Large, pale green eyes stared at him, and Baric could see massive jaws full of sharp teeth. The paws resembled those of a grizzly, huge and powerful, with deadly claws.

The lion prowled slowly in his direction, and Baric realized he had just stolen the lion’s kill. It, too, must have been stalking the elk.

The beast suddenly broke into a run, straight toward him. The great cat possessed unbelievable speed, and Baric barely had enough time to draw and fire another arrow, which hit the lion in the left hindquarter. This did not stop its forward momentum, however, and Baric dropped his bow just as the huge cat leapt upon him, knocking him flat on his back. He grabbed its massive jaws with both hands, trying with all his might to keep them away from his throat.

Whisper had drawn her daggers, but the struggle between Baric and lion gave her no opening to take advantage of. She watched helplessly as Baric wrestled with the great beast, rolling from side to side, his arms now bleeding from deep scratches as the lion’s claws threatened to rip him apart. Thankfully, Baric’s leather jerkin prevented penetration to his chest.

“Stay back!” yelled Baric, not wanting Whisper to join the fray. He summoned all his strength into one massive push and was able to throw the lion off of him, knowing the respite would only last a moment. Rolling in the opposite direction he leapt to his feet, simultaneously drawing the great blade from his back.

The lion leapt again at Baric with fantastic speed. Baric swung his blade with both hands, making a swift leap to the side at the same instant, dodging the beast as it flew through the air toward him. His blade cut into the lion’s side as it went past, slicing a long, deep slash created by its own momentum.

The beast landed hard, roaring in pain. Baric did not waste a second, raising the hilt of his sword with both hands with the blade pointed downward, he slammed the point into the lion’s chest with all his might. The broadsword pierced the heart of the beast and it went limp.

Baric fell to one knee, his hands covered with blood from the deep gashes on his upper arms.

Whisper sheathed her daggers and ran to his aid. “Baric!” she yelled.

Baric held up one hand weakly, gasping for air. “I’m alright. I just need to catch my breath.”

“But you are bleeding!” she said with alarm, seeing the blood flowing profusely from the deep cuts on his arms.

Baric looked at his arms and nodded, shedding the pack from his back, still kneeling on one knee and using his sword for support. It was still stuck in the lion’s body.

 

Ribbon Reviews for A Whisper in the Shadows:
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A Whisper In The Shadows
, by Tom Fallwell, is the start of an epic adventure series, and it’s off to a great start. Beric, one of the legendary Rangers of Laerean, and a Vaar’da assassin, Whisper, undertake a quest, which uses magic and physical prowess to dispatch a demon. Quick paced and dramatic, the story will leave you looking for more. The characters are well-developed and easy to imagine as they pursue their mission, and learn from each other. If you are a fantasy reader and don’t mind waiting for that “next book,” here’s a great place to start. Enjoyed it a lot.

Submitted by Michael R. Stern

 

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Endorsements
This was a fantastic book, with such vivid character and setting descriptions that you could put yourself there.

While Whisper (Raimerestha) was my favorite character, Barric was a close second. My favorite part was when Barric confessed his love for Whisper.

I will absolutely recommend this to my friends.
A Whisper in the Shadows is creative. A whole calendar, a complete world, and many different races make it a good reading.

Diving into strange places, the Laerean Rangers and a tiny woman assassin fight demons and curious and deadly animals besides their own flaws.

It's easy to follow the plot, to fall into the adventures of their quest. They start to save a single person and at the end, their whole world depends on that.

Baric, nicknamed bear, is the ranger and the hero. I'm in love. Brave and kind, he decides to help Whisper, an assassin, even after she lies to him and his captain. Later, he finds out the decision is the only way to save their world of Hir.

His strength and kindness are endearing and his honor is just what a real hero must have. He comes out as one from the old times.

In this new literature of anti heroes, Baric and his fellow rangers are a safe haven. They call the heart to the next book.

Let the kind and brave rangers fight their new quest. I am anxious for it.
I'm not usually a fantasy or sci-fi fan, but recently I've discovered some amazing talent in these genres. As well, the title (which, may I add is perfect for this story. It's all tied together seamlessly inside.) and theme of this book intrigued me, so I decided to give it a try.

I was blown away by the intelligent, imaginative writing! The characters' names were authentic and suitable for the era, and the fantastical creatures were unique and described with vivid detail. I could picture them perfectly.

Although I adored Baric and Whisper, I'd have to say my favorite character was Arganwulf. He sounded so confident and sexy - a great fantasy book boyfriend.

There were a few slow parts to the story, but they were needed to build up to the mind-blowing plot twists found toward the end. These made the book worth every moment spent reading! The author did a phenomenal job creating suspense and intrigue at the end, and then blew every suspicion or prediction I had, out of reach. The ending was nothing like I'd expected, but everything I didn't even know I wanted!

This is just one of my favorite lines in which the author used personification to describe a scene:

Looking north, the towering, snow-capped peaks loomed ahead of them . The road they now occupied wound upwards, twisting out of sight as it climbed into the mountains.

And this was probably my favorite phrase, which is the embodiment of the entire theme of this story:

"You have a journey ahead of you that will span decades, but it will begin with something small. Only a whisper. Remember this that I tell you now. Power will corrupt even the most faithful, if their will is not strong. Beware such power, and keep your will strong."

I highly recommend this series to anyone who enjoys fantasy encased by a compelling story and captivating characters. It's both character-driven and plot-driven. I will definitely be reading more by this author.
Author Tom Fallwell has created a dangerous, wonderful and intriguing world, right down to its calendar, history and scents. Fantasy fans will relish the detailed tapestry of characters, customs and lands in this story. True, paralels can always be drawn between our world and this one, but it is precisely why stories and fiction exist – to help us deal with reality. And what better way to find yourself than to lose yourself in fantasy once in a while!

You may wonder what exciting and mythical things may be in store for a bunch of rangers, but nothing is ever what it seems. Even the title of the book bears a mystery, soon discovered, but reaching its true potential in the very end (wait for it, as I am avoiding spoilers here).

Despite the apparent lack of spectacular events in the beginning (do not be intimidated by the geographical and historical data of Hir presented by the author at the start), the further I moved into the plot, the more I found myself wanting to read on. There is a steady pace of intensity, no huge epic battles in the first half of the book, not too many characters and creatures to get lost in, but enough to keep you interested and involved. I liked that. It is, after all, a ranger’s tale, not an elf’s or a king’s, so the slight down-to-earth feel to the story is natural. But do not think there is lack of magic, superhero courage or peculiar events and creatures. On the contrary! They are merely introduced with a sense of measure, not to overwhelm and drown the characters in ‘special effects’. What starts off as a simple rescue mission to save a kidnapped princess, soon develops into a myriad of complications and a world-threatening power struggle, selflessly suffered by the heroes and heroines.

The characters, in my opinion, are the true wealth of the story. The romantic couple is strong, each with a formidable personality and skillset. The chemistry set between Baric and Raimerestha (or Whisper) is instantly clear, and even predictable, but I love that sort of romantic notion, of a contrasting couple joined through turmoil. Baric is an unassuming, strong and unavoidable hero, set in his ways but open-minded, whereas Whisper is wonderfully incomplete, unaware of her true potential and she grows throughout the story. Even the nickname is perfect! “

She looked over to Baric again. “I am not a warrior as you would consider. I fight from the shadows and with deception. Not face-to-face, as I am sure you do.”

This is really intelligent writing with attention to detail, not only in descriptions, but also the behaviour of characters. Here is an example. “

He could see the slight fluctuations of the irises in her eyes, the almost imperceptible twitch at the corner of her mouth.”

The rangers and minor characters are all memorable and never overshadowed by magnificent and frightful beasts or magic. I truly enjoyed Tom Fallwell’s depiction of the mindset of the Rangers as they set out on a quest together. He manages to portray the brotherly pack mentality with loyalty and discipline, without wasting words. The Wolf-Bear relationship is one we expect and look forward to in adventure stories, and wish for in real life.

The creatures, architecture and nature are wonderfully painted, both fascinating and horrifying, and the action scenes are spectacular, especially as the story progresses. I found the scene of Baric fighting a lion particularly dramatic and almost movie like in its graphic quality. It might also make a good plot for a video game. What adds to the strength of the scene is the fact that it’s the first time Baric sees a lion and he is not on familiar ground. And this scene is only a hint of the cliffhanger moments to follow.

The author’s style gets better and stronger as you read on, as if he himself was more and more immersed in the story. The second half of the book, will have you biting your nails and hating to leave the book to go to work. It will make you dizzy and have you rooting for the characters, and leave you wanting for a sequel once you reach the ending.

I love a story which occasionaly has such powerful or lovely lines which don’t deter you from the story, but shine through and can even stand alone. One of my favourites is:

“she was having a hard time trying to act superior around a man that seemed not to care about such things.”

The main thing fantasy should do is make you feel as if you are there, make you want to follow the characters on their adventure, help them out and visit those worlds again. Tom Fallwell’s world has that inspiring, inviting quality. You can compare it to other famous fantasy authors – the key object being an item of ultimate power which must be destroyed, the brotherhood of rangers led by a tiny being to save the world, etc., but comparing does not diminish the strength this story carries within its own genre. Sometimes I even like to compare reading certain books to music.

This one played out to me like Ravel’s Bolero. Slow and steady in the beginning, with a tumult of epic action and emotion in its second half. And the tune stays with you even when you set it aside. I can see this book read and analysed by fantasy geeks who will read and reread it in search of any flaws or timeline glitches, just as they do with the fantasy classics.

I am always in awe of authors and artists who manage to create a whole new world, with creatures, plants, laws, cultures, languages… True, it does all come down to the same good vs, bad principle, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t enjoy the diversity. I love the way Tom Fallwell’s main character Baric explains it. “Baric just kept smiling.”

“They’re just people. Some people are good, some people are bad and some people just don’t care. Some feel superior, some feel inferior, but we’re all the same when you get right down to it. People are people, whether they have fur and sharp teeth, dark skin and pointed ears, short bodies and long beards, it’s all the same. There’s no one better than me, there’s no one lesser than me. We’re all equal. We’re all just … people.”

This review is written for the Readers Review Room, and it is my pleasure to award it a gold worm, the highest rating in that group. It started off as a blue, but, to my great joy, it really enthralled me and delighted me. This is book I will gladly recommend to all fantasy and adventure fans, and read the sequels myself. Read it for yourself to make the most of the experience, and remember this quote from the book: “Knowledge is the goal. Wisdom is the key. Ignorance can be deadly. You can never know too much. You will always know too little. Seeking knowledge is a lifelong pursuit.”
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