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Shadowmancer Audio Cassette – Audiobook, 1 Apr 2004
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Written to include such elements as magic, witchcraft, superstition, sorcery, history, folklore and smuggling, Shadowmancer has become a book that simply cannot be ignored. Despite such fierce competition as JK Rowling's mighty bestseller Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, The Reverend Graham Taylor's debut children's novel has nevertheless garnered impressive media coverage.
At the heart of his story lies the classic battle between good and evil. On one side Taylor has painted one of the most despicable men possible--Obadiah Demurral, an 18th century vicar who preaches restraint and tolerance to his flock of god-fearing but misguided souls while all the time hiding the fact that he is a shadowmancer--a sorcerer who speaks to the dead--who commands these unfortunates to do his own bidding. For Demurral is intent on seeking to control the ultimate power in the universe. He doesn't want to worship God anymore, he wants to be God. And in the finest traditions of such stories, he will stop at nothing to achieve his dastardly goal.
Lined up against him, however, are some equally inventive good guys. Thomas Barrick, at 13, is the spunky almost-orphan who can intuitively see straight through Demurral's pious act and knows him to be evil to the core. Helping him is feisty tomboy Kate Coglan, Raphah--a mysterious African who has journeyed far to reclaim the precious symbols that Demurral is using for evil purpose, and Jacob Crane, a smuggler with a big grudge against the demented vicar.
The plot might wobble a little in places and the simmering religious overtones might get up a few people's noses, but Taylor's colourful cast is undoubtedly a triumph. The characters are larger than life, engaging, plentiful--and you'll care what happens to them. (For ages 10 and over) --John McLay --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Shadowmancer is a dark tale of magic and sorcery by G. P. Taylor, the bestselling author of Wormwood and Tersias. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
With regards to the characters, the novel presents a typical 'good versus evil' scenario, underlined by overt and complex religious connotations, which for a younger reader will be too complicated to follow at times. Raphah, Thomas and Kate, the main protagonists, are fairly one dimensional, although each have their own personal issues to resolve, which leads them to team up in their quest for an artefact, currently in the clutches of the evil vicar Demurral(a contradiction in terms?). Demurral has terrorised his parish for many years now and people are too afraid to stand up to him. If this character is in any way supposed to equal Vodermot's dimensions in Harry Potter, he certainly fails to strike horror into the reader and his 'army' of semi machines are far too easily avoided. His actions are half hearted, indecisive and far too drawn out. The most interesting character is probably Demurral's somewhat deformed and cunning assistant Beadle, whose desperate attempts to impress, spark some pity.
The only more interesting part about the novel is its setting around the Whitby area, visiting many of the familiar tourist sites, lending them a new history.
I managed to plow through this one but it is unlikely that I would read a second installment. However critical I initially was of Harry Potter, it is at the end of the day a much more enjoyable romp than this far too serious hotchpotch of a novel.
The hype about this decidedly average children's story from the publishing industry is understandable, in the light of the millions made for them by J. K. Rowling, but the complicity of the so-called critics is more surprising (and eye opening). On the back cover the "Times", "Observer", "Herald", "Daily Telegraph" and "Independent" all breathlessly agree that Shadowmancer is "the biggest event in children's fiction since Harry Potter".
There's no way these critics (or a proficient editor) actually read this book. Shadowmancer is poorly written, with a lack of attention to consistency that is continually jarring (and, yes, children pay attention to detail).
- How many hands does Demurral have as he "... took hold of the golden staff and placed his left hand on the stone fist ..." and "... raised the Keruvim with right hand ..." ?
- How strong is teenage Kate "A small figure leapt out of the darkness at Thomas and Raphah, grabbing them both by the throat and pushing them face down on to the ground" and how do you push two people face DOWN by their throat ?
- How dangerous can the Varrigal be (a "race of (eight feet) warriors") when Thomas, the young boy who was just pinned down by Kate, a teenage girl, is able to effectively trade sword blows with them using a Varrigal sword (from a fallen Varrigal, shot dead by Kate) ?
- Is the mill wheel wood or metal ? "A large wooden mill wheel jutted out into the mill beck ... It rolled on without stopping, the newly cast metal and fresh blue paint churning the water of the beck."
Shadowmancer also explains far too much, far too soon, as if children cannot wait for details to be revealed, or work things our for themselves.
I couldn't finish the book (rare) but at the end of the day Shadowmancer has lots of action and the plot lurches on at a fast pace. When I consider all the wonderful children's titles out there, though, I think it's unfair to hype this as anything like a classic. I'd be interested to see feedback from children, as opposed to disappointed adults.
In short, there is too much redundant description and wooden dialogue. But he clearly knows his folklore and has done his research into the era and the location. The story itself could be a good one - had the writer had a decent editor. Instead, in the dash to capitalise on Potter fans, this seems to have been rushed out.
I hate to be so negative, but there was so much wrong with this: the plot dragged; the writing was poor (sentences were badly constructed - where was the editor?); and the allegory, well it was too obvious, too cumbersome, and, in the end, just annoying and frustrating. CS Lewis it ain't. A disappointing read after the hype. If you haven't read Pullman then go with him, if you have, you can only be disappointed with this.