A Shadow All of Light

A Shadow All of Light

Book - 2016 | First edition
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Fred Chappell's A Shadow All of Light, a stylish, episodic fantasy novel, follows the exploits of Falco, a young man from the country, who arrives in the port city of Tardocco with the ambition of becoming an apprentice to a master shadow thief. Maestro Astolfo, whose mysterious powers of observation would rival those of Sherlock Holmes, sees Falco's potential and puts him through a grueling series of physical lessons and intellectual tests. Falco's adventures coalesce into one overarching story of con men, monsters, ingenious detection, cats, and pirates.
Publisher: New York : Tor, 2016
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9780765379122
Branch Call Number: CHAPPEL
Characteristics: 383 pages ; 25 cm


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Jan 16, 2018

This fantasy novel by Fred Chappell is well written and the underlying magic (of shadows) owes nothing to any other writer that I am aware of. It is rare these days to find a wholly new trope.

The narrator, Falco (a dung footed clod newly escaped from the farm and who has invented a new name for himself) approaches the legendary master Astolfo requesting an apprenticeship as a Shadow Thief. A shadow thief steals other people's shadows for profit. The various methods of detaching shadows and their multiple uses are explored in detail.

The style of the writing seems to be an homage to American fantasy writers from the golden age of magazine publishing, the 1940s to 1960s. The atmosphere, detailed narration of back stories, detailed description of locales and characters, the formal dialogue, and the episodic nature of the stories (whereby the book is divided into a series of stories as if for publication in a magazine) tastes strongly of the writing of Fritz Leiber in the Lankhmar Series (Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser) although the characters and storyline are entirely different. The city in which most of the action occurs owes more to Lankhmar than to Ankh Morpork

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