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The River of Shadows: The Catharand Voyage Book 3
Robert V.S. Redick
Gollancz / Del Rey, 592 pages

The River of Shadows
The River of Shadows
Robert V.S. Redick
Robert V. S. Redick's unpublished first novel, Conquistadors, was a finalist for the AWP/Thomas Dunne Novel Award, and his essay "Uncrossed River" won the New Millennium Writings Award for nonfiction. A former theater critic and international development researcher, he worked most recently for the antipoverty organization Oxfam. He lives in western Massachusetts.

Robert V.S. Redick Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Rats and the Ruling Sea / The Ruling Sea
SF Site Review: The Red Wolf Conspiracy
SF Site Review: The Red Wolf Conspiracy

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Dominic Cilli

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I do so love a good fantasy nautical yarn and Robert V.S. Redick is in the middle of writing a really entertaining series called The Catharand Voyage which fits that bill quite nicely. The first two installments of this series, The Red Wolf Conspiracy and The Rats and the Ruling Sea, were both very strong and both need to be read before starting The River of Shadows, which only stands to reason since this is the third of a planned four book series. The concluding volume The Night of the Swarm is due out sometime in 2012 and judging by the first three books of the series it should be fantastic. If you want to get a good idea of what has transpired so far in the series I suggest you follow the links above and read the excellent reviews there.

If you have been following the series, the crew of the Catharand has successfully made it across the ruling sea, well most of them anyway, and now the really weird stuff seems to begin. You see, not only did the crew cross the untraversable ruling sea, it seems they have been transported 200 years into the future and some fairly significant changes have occurred to the human race. Meanwhile, Panzel, Neeps, Thasa and the host of supporting characters are still at odds with the evil sorcerer Arunis and his quest to master the power of the Nilstone in order to destroy Alifros. The River of Shadows, for the first time in this series, has a major portion of this book take place on land and the events that transpire throughout have opened a lot of doors in the world of Alifros for Redick to write in. It all sounds like one great big fantasy cliché, but it's really not. There is something special about this particular series. For instance, Redick has a real knack for writing characters that you care about which in and of itself is half the battle for writing a good novel. Examples include Felthrup the scholarly "woken" rat, Thasa who is much more then she seems and I just loved several of the Ixchel characters. Redick is also doing a marvelous job with the plot. It's a very suspenseful one which means his books are all real page turners and contain enough twists and turns to keep the most ardent fantasy reader entertained. Redick's pacing is also superb for there is hardly ever a dull moment in The River of Shadows. He has done an admirable job of creating the world of Alifros and there is certainly enough interesting side items to keep him writing in this world for years to come if he should so choose.

The Catharand Voyage is structured like a lot of fantasy series. The story starts out rather small with several unwitting participants and grows into a massive adventure as the events within keep expanding and we find the characters at the center of a battle that could result in the destruction the world. There isn't a whole lot of new groundbreaking material in The Catharand Voyage, but there is more than enough to keep readers intrigued and The River of Shadows passes the only test that really matters. It's a well written, highly entertaining book that should delight most fans of the genre and is well worth taking the time to read.

Copyright © 2011 Dominic Cilli

When asked to write a third-person tag line for his reviews, Dominic Cilli farmed the work out to an actual 3rd person, his friend Neal, who in turn turned it over to a second person who then asked his third cousin to help out and this person whom Dom doesn't even know then wrote in 8th person Omniscient mode "Dom's breadth of knowledge in literature runs the gamut and is certainly not bounded by the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre. One thing I can say with certainty is that of all the people I don't know who've ever recommended books to read, Dom's recommendations are the best.


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