Book Review - THE FIRST OF SHADOWS by Deck Matthews

(Title: The First of Shadows / Author: Deck Matthews / Publisher: Self-Published / Publication Date: January 22, 2019)

I've had the pleasure of reading some excellent self-published books this year.  The amount of quality titles that have been coming out virtually every other week has been absolutely  staggering.  Lately I have made a conscious decision to consume a lot more independent and self-titled books and review them on the blog.  So much so in fact that I'm proud to say that my reading ratio has tipped dramatically in that direction.  The fantasy novella THE FIRST OF SHADOWS by Deck Matthews further continues that trend and I have to say that it stirred up some familiar sentimentality from my very earliest days of reading fantasy fiction.

This opening novella in the Riven Realm series is divided into three main character POVs and separate story lines (don't worry, they ultimately all tie into each other).  The first POV is a mysterious drifter named Shem.  We open the story with him battling some type of demon being and it is sort of hinted at that this is a battle that has taken place multiple times before and in multiple forms as well.

The second POV is a character named Caleb Rusk.  Caleb is a young man with a physical disability who works as a rigger on an airship.  Caleb is often bullied by some in his hometown yet you can sense an inner strength in him which transcends any type of affliction that may slow him down at times.  He eventually meets a badly injured Shem on the road to his home where the stranger tells him a story of a growing danger that could soon find its way into Caleb's humble small-town existence.

The last POV is a wizened blind sage named Tiberius.  Tiberius has been travelling the world of Varkas for decades upon decades in search of rare and very ancient forms of magic.  The purpose of this quest is to discover the most dangerous and deadly among them and to keep them safe from those who would use them for evil ends.  However, when a number of strange and sudden deaths begin to occur in the city of Taralius, Tiberius is recruited by the Ember Throne to assist an officer of the military guard named Avador to hopefully get to the bottom of it.

The world of the Riven Realm is quite an interesting one.  Many of the cities and towns are reminiscent of a traditional medieval fantasy setting, but Matthews has also introduced the idea of airships into this scenario, which gives the story a cool and unique blend of styles.  The characters are very well written and I couldn't help but compare them to the characters in David Eddings Belgariad series, and in particular, how they interacted with each other.

There is definitely a comfort feel to this story that reminds me a lot of those books.  There is often a tinge of humor injected into the dialogue which you could picture Belgarath the Sorcerer saying to Pol or Silk during one of their many journeys.  That being said, THE FIRST OF SHADOWS definitely has its own voice and it is an intriguing one with a marvelous mystery that powers the plot.  Who or what is killing people indiscriminately and how do the three main characters play a part in what will follow?  

I enjoyed THE FIRST OF SHADOWS a great deal.  It was a refreshing change of pace to the grimdark books that I have been reading lately.  It was also a very quick read that flowed very easily from one chapter to the next.  Deck Matthews has revealed that books 2 and 3 are soon on the horizon and I can't wait to see where this story goes and what new elements that Deck introduces to this world.  This novella is definitely a treat that you shouldn't pass up.  And it has a killer map. (Sorry, I'm a sucker for beautiful maps).  Filled with magic, interesting characters, and wonderful world-building, this is a fantasy tale not to be missed!

(My Rating: 8/10)


  1. This sounds like it's right up my alley!

  2. It's a really fun read. You should definitely check it out. And thanks for the comment!


Post a Comment

Contact Form


Email *

Message *