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Lord Tophet: A Shadowbridge Novel by Gregory Frost

Posted by travizzt on February 28, 2010

The shadow-puppeteer Jax’s fame is growing day in, day out. Yet when a mysterious forces comes for the puppeteer, Jax is the only one that could right the wrongs of the past.

Lord Tophet: A Shadowbridge Novel by Gregory Frost- This is the last book of a two book adventure. The first book is called Shadowbridge. Gregory Frost’s other works include; Attack of the Jazz Giants and Other Short Stories, Fitcher’s Bride, The Pure Cold Light, Tain, Remscela, and Lyrec.

WARNING: Spoilers for Shadowbridge will be present.

The story picks up right after what ended Shadowbridge. We find Leodora, a shadow-puppeteer under the stage name of Jax who is growing in fame, passing out after stepping into a Dragon Bowl, these are places in which gods grant gifts to the people of the Shadowbridge. She finds herself in Edgeworld, the dimension of the gods, or at least that’s the conclusion she’s under. While there, she has to make a choice, which is never given or explained to her or the reader. After choosing, she is whisked away back to Shadowbridge and her troupe. The mystical musician, Diverus, and her adviser/ promoter, Soter, hurry to pick up her passed out form and take her away before the people of Colemaigne, the span the troupe is currently on, become nosy and violent to find what was gifted. As they take her away, the troupe come across a theater owner named Orinda who takes them back to her theater for safety. As they make their way there, they noticed that Colemaigne is changing. What it once was, a run down ruin of a span, is changing back into the wonder of a place it used to be. When the troupe arrive at Orinda’s theater, Orinda informs Soter and Diverus what happened after Soter’s last visit when he was with the famous shadow-puppeteer Bardsham, who is Leodora’s father. She tells them that show business acts are banned from the span because of what Bardsham caused after Bardsham’s troupe left. But since the span was returned to normal by whatever Leodora did, the ban is lifted and the show business can go on again. When Leodora finally awakes, she finds that she has some sort of amulet she didn’t have before and discovers it can talk and give her advice, but only in vague riddles. After performing a few times, she and Diverus explore the town and look for stories of the span. She wants to find out more about what she seen before passing out, a dark city beneath the span. As the troupe performs, Leodora’s fame continues to grow enough that the ones who caused Colemaigne’s ruin come for Jax, thinking that it is the famous Bardsham.

Negatives:

1) Rushed Scenes. Every once in a while, there seemed to be a rushed sequence of events. Usually mundane things that made some of the story and actions hard to follow. For example, towards the middle of the story, Leodora and Diverus are being ‘entertained’ by a group of people. Everything is fine and understandable, but it soon goes into confusing territory. The leader of these people starts to go off on some tangent that I honestly could not follow and I still can not understand anything that was said. This is due because it was just rushed and hastily explained. This rushed feeling happens a lot it seemed.

2) Vague Descriptions. What goes hand in hand with some of the rushed sequences are some of the descriptions and explanations. Most of the descriptions are wonderful and vivid, yet at the same time there were things that were hard to grasp and visualize. The best example is almost everything that is described in the inverted span. Yes, it would be a little hard grasp the concept that up is down and the sea is sky and most of it was described and explained fairly well. Yet, there were times that things needed a little more detail added. For instance, the fire puppets. You have a full book and a half that has very few things magical and suddenly we are thrown into a world of magic? It wasn’t terrible, just disorienting in how these things were described and explained. The whole inverted span just felt vague, and maybe that’s the point.

3) One Book. Honestly, this should not have been a two book adventure. The books themselves only are around two hundred to about two hundred and twenty pages apiece. Seeing as the first book is really just filled with stories and back story, and this book expects you to recall most of the first. It just was a poor way to do it.

Positives:

1) Story. Finally, there is a point. I said above that Shadowbridge is basically tales and back story, and everything related to an adventure in that book could have been the prologue of this book, it really is nice to see something happen. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the tales and back stories in Shadowbridge, but it was missing something. The plot itself is way to simple. Basically, Bardsham made a fool out of a ‘god’ and that ‘god’ went after him, and only recently learned of the daughter, Leodora. To put it simply, it is satisfying to actually have something happen other than tales. What I’m trying to say is that it was nice to have a plot.

2) Soter. In the first book, I honestly could really care less about him. He was just a drunk that thought things were out to get him, a one note character. In here he’s more defined and a lot more interesting. His tale, towards the end was just wonderful and added a meaning to the story. He’s the more memorable of the characters.

3) Left Unsaid. What wasn’t said just felt right. The whole time that Leodora and Diverus were in the invert span, what happened in their absence was mostly left up to the reader. The scenes that took place in their absence just set up everything that was going on in Colemaigne. It just felt right. Even the ending felt right. The story felt like one of Jax’s tales, where what happens next is a different story.

Side Notes:

1) Characters. Leodora and Diverus as characters fell flat it seemed. Nothing, except a love interest, was adding to them at all. At times, it seemed like they would grow and develop more, but it never went through.

2) Shadowbridge. I really love this setting. It’s exciting and I really hope there would be more stories about it someday.

3) Cover Art. It’s just like the first, but grittier and darker. I like the general lack of bright colors and it’s a stark contrast to Shadowbridge‘s cover.

Overall: 3/5

Final Thoughts:

Truth be told, this is more of a 3.5 out of 5. This isn’t a bad novel by any means, it’s just generic. While I liked the fact there was a plot, it was simple and honestly kind of boring. It just was nice to have a point. The characters weren’t all that engaging as they were in Shadowbridge. They just were missing everything that made them unique. However, Soter did become more of a character that I like. I do like the feel of the book and how it left you wondering what happens next. Because of that, it kept the spirit of Jax’s short tales and how they ended. But the thing that bothers me the most is that it’s two books. If it was one full length novel, it would have been wonderful and better. And at times, it felt like it was meant to be one novel. Simply put, it’s just average.

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