Carriker Jr., Joseph D. “Shadowtide: A Blue Rose Novel”, illustrated by Magdelena Pagowaka, Green Ronin Publishing, 2018. “Something Dark Stirs in the Veran Marsh…”
I must admit that I do not read much science or fantasy fiction— it is jut not me. However when I am asked to review a book of this genre, I try to put aside my personal feelings and give an honest review. I was very surprised with “Shadowtide”— it pulled me in immediately. The characters are interesting and well-drawn and they are motivated to fill their parts of the plot. I have a strong feeling that we are just getting to know them now and that their story will continue.
“Shadowtide” is set in the world of Aldis, the setting for the Blue Rose table-top role-playing game. We are introduced to the situation on the prologue and learn that two agents are in serious trouble. The rest of the book is about three agents who are trying to find out what happened to the first two.
We find ourselves in the city of Serpent’s Haven where smugglers
live in the middle of a swamp and where evil activity is the course of the day.
We meet Ydah, a female warrior who has spent the last year dealing with personal
loss, Soot, a “self-aware” raven who has the ability (among others) of being able
to heal wounds and
Morjin, a spy with a good and open heart and who
can predict the future. Generally, each of the three works alone but here they
have come together to deal with the mysteries of Serpent’s Haven.
Because I do not read novels of this type, it took me longer to
read this then the average reader. The setting was a bit difficult to understand.
What really had my interest was the diversity we experience in the plot especially
with regard to the sexuality of the characters.
Morjin, for example, falls in love with both sexes and is part of an open marriage arrangement with both a man and a woman in the capital city. This did not stop him from the pursuit of another man in Serpent’s Haven. There is also an asexual character who is described as being “aromantic” as well. It is interesting that this “different” sexuality at one time might have seemed to be characteristic of a fantasy world while today it has become accepted in our regular world. The ending is somewhat open which has led me to believe that this is the first book in a projected series.
As for the prose, it is an easy read once you
get past the introductions of the characters and the introduction to the
customs of the people. This is a book about people and with each page you get
to know them better. “Shadowtide” is also a good introduction to the Blue Rose setting. We just
have to wait and see if our characters can deal with their suspicions and fears to fulfill their mission.