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The Shadow of Black Wings (The Year of the Dragon, Book 1) by [Calbraith, James]
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The Shadow of Black Wings (The Year of the Dragon, Book 1) Kindle Edition

3.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
Book 1 of 8 in The Year of the Dragon (8 Book Series)

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Length: 334 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled

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Product description

About the Author

James Calbraith is a 34 year old Poland-born writer, foodie and traveller, currently residing in South London. Growing up in communist Poland on a diet of powdered milk, Lord of the Rings and soviet science-fiction, he had his first story published at the ripe age of eight. After years of bouncing around university faculties, he moved to London in 2007, found a decent IT job and started writing in English. His debut historical fantasy novel, "The Shadow of Black Wings", has reached ABNA semi-finals and was published in July 2012. His volume of short stories, "Transmission", published on Amazon Kindle in June 2012, has reached the tops of Kindle bestseller lists in USA, UK, France, Germany and Italy.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1138 KB
  • Print Length: 334 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Flying Squid; 3 edition (28 Jun. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008FS5RPC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #14,815 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)
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Customer reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Top customer reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The Shadow of Black Wings is a brilliant debut novel by James Calbraith, which blends fantasy with alternate history to conjure a Victorian world full of dragons and magic and derring-do. With the vast majority of placenames altered dramatically, it can take a few moments to realise the places being described, but by keeping his story grounded in our (albeit altered) world, Calbraith is able to exploit the mythologies of several cultures for a much more layered and subtle fantasy environment than most authors manage with a completely blank canvas.

If there was one drawback to this exciting story of Bran the young dragon rider's first voyage to the East, it's that it ends on such a powerful cliffhanger. Fast-paced and fun, I can't wait to see how this story develops. Beg, steal or borrow a copy. Or, you know, download it. It's all good.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Ok what you have in this book is not a story but the set-up to the story. You learn some of the background to the 2 main protagonists and you learn how some of the world works. As a piece of scene-setting this book almost works.

So you have Bran, whom we first meet as a student who is virtually finished on his course to be a dragon rider. We have a fairly boring interaction with a bully and then Bran graduates from his class and then has the summer to work out what he intends to do with his life. He reads the logs of his grandfathers journey to the orient (Japan under a different name) and this is part of the set up to what Bran will be doing in the future.

Sato is a Japanese girl trained as a samurai. She is extremely good with blade and elemental magic. She finds Bran and hides him from the authorities. It is clear that when the story actually starts that these two are going to be the hero and heroine.

However this story stops just about there. We have no idea what the problem that will trouble these two actually is. Another review called this a massive cliffhanger, I would rather say that the whole book is just a tantaliser hoping to draw you far enough into the world that you will ignore that you have just read a whole book and the story doesn't really start. This annoys me. Having just read a really good series where each book is a proper enclosed story underneath a whole series arc I find that a single story over several books which is just abruptly stopped is less likely to make me want to buy the next book and more likely to make me disparage the author.

Don't get me wrong. The book is well written as far as it goes. However this book is not a story, it is just part of the story. Don't read this if you like to come away from a book even partially emotionally fulfilled.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is an interesting tale of a young lad just fresh out of college and setting out in the world.

Its an alternate Victorian history story with magic and dragons and steampunk technology.

Let's start with the not so good:

- There are some occasions where the wrong words have been used. To be fair to the author, this book is written in English but he's from Poland and there are only a few (probably about half a dozen). It's a minor niggle really but it is one of the things that stopped this being a 5 star review. These sort of mistakes really pull me out of the story... so I had to mention it.

- There is a large break in the tale, or at least that's what it feels like to me, between the time something that occurs to the protagonist and him reappearing in the story. However, and this is the bit I didn't like, I get the impression that the gap between the event and his reappearance is meant to be instantaneous. It feels disjointed to me so I struggled with it for a spell.

- There are so many words to learn. I found myself repeating character and place names - a lot - to get them into my head. And that was every time I saw the words written.

What did I like:

Solid world building. I can relate to the world but I know its not where I am from, even though really it is. I can see where the inspiration for each country, and their associated populace came from.

Great characters that I could visualise every time they were focused upon in the story.

Intriguing take on a magic system with solid mechanics behind it.

Dragons! (that's all I'll say on the matter)

I really enjoyed reading this book and I have already recommended it to friends.
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Good Read so far interesting concept but can be confusing if read out of sequence could be a bit more discriptive
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)

Amazon.com: 3.4 out of 5 stars 92 reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful blend of history & fantasy 11 Sept. 2012
By Vered Ehsani - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Imagine a really well written historical fiction, taking place in the mid 1800's, focusing on the adventures and intrigues occurring in and around imperial Japan. Now add an element of alternative history: the Roman Empire was never vanquished and is vying with other European powers for access to the Orient. And then top that off with a rich layer of dragons, magic and other fantasy elements. That's what you have with The Shadow of Black Wings. James Calbraith does a wonderful job at weaving fact and fantasy into an alternative but very realistic history that pulls the reader into its richness. I'm definitely going to be reading the next book in the series.
3.0 out of 5 stars The Shadow of Black Wings(The Year of the Dragon , Book 1) 6 Jun. 2016
By Carol - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a strange book, it keeps jumping back & forth between people & events. Toward the end it starts to come together to get you to the next book. I am going onto Book 2 to see if it starts making better sense. It has setting in ancient Rome & ancient Japan, complete with magic, dragons & modern type weapons. As I said it is strange but I am going to try book 2 because it could proven to be interesting.
2.0 out of 5 stars Won't be reading the series. 15 Jan. 2017
By Jake M. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you're serious about your fantasy and steam punk reading I'd place this in the middle of the pack. Author has created an interesting world, but has populated it with a self absorbed, arguementaitve and totally unlikeable hero. This young lad carries a knowitall chip on his shoulder larger than Ayers Rock and is out to prove it. The female lead however is delightful. The story line also suffers from what I am guessing are publisher edits that truncate to story and leave large holes in what could have been a very good tale. Meaning many of the escapes from danger are mere "hand of God" miracles rather than creative ways out of a pickle. Interesting read but one I won't wait for upcoming volumes for.
3.0 out of 5 stars I was actually pretty disappointed in the book by the end 16 Dec. 2014
By Hannah E Thompson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was actually pretty disappointed in the book by the end. While I'm curious to see where the worldbuilding is going, I really have minimal investment in the plot. I'm actually, on completion of the first book, not entirely certain what the plot is about. I'm all for books that raise questions at the end, but I also need a few satisfying answers, or at least noticeable puzzle pieces (even if I don't know where in the puzzle they fit, I should know that they're important). There were no answers.

In addition, while the political intrigue was interesting, as well as the historical throwbacks, I really wasn't impressed with the magic system(s?). I cannot honestly tell you how magic works in this book, just that apparently there is magic and there are different traditions of magic that only work well in some places.

And (this isn't too much of a spoiler since you pick up on it within the first chapter) why is Bran so loyal to Emrys? I really saw nothing that would lead me into a greater understanding of this dynamic--not to mention it wasn't made clear immediately why that is so abnormal. I honestly thought at first he was ridiculously loyal to Emrys because that was the dragon he'd been stuck with and the only dragon he'd ever have, so they needed to back each other up.

Overall, I was a bit dissatisfied with this book and likely will not read the second, unless I find it for free.
1.0 out of 5 stars Do not care about the characters 28 Mar. 2017
By Charlie - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This has everything that I should like; dragons,Asian culture mixed with European. But I just cannot find any reason to care about a single character in this book. The dragon is made to be so pathetic that I do not feel sympathy, I say ditch that dragon too kid.
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