Dolor and Shadow is the first book in the Tales of the Drui series. Like most first books in a series, it’s got a fairly steep learning curve and some development points that need to be established for future books.
The main characters Kallan and Rune, steal the show. The rest of the cast is interesting, but not quite built on. Luckily the character of Kallan stands on her own. She’s a compelling person with an interesting internal conflict. Rune is a solid counter to her. I was most happy with the book when they were in the thick of the plot.
I gave this book 5-stars because it is a great start to a series, but, like I said, it has a lot in common with other great starts to books. I absolutely love “Eye of the World” and Dragon Flight, but those books start slow and sometimes drag a bit. My brother asked me to read the first one hundred pages of “Eye of the World” before I said anything, and I’ve never been happier to listen to him.
Dolor isn’t much different in terms of the amount of set up it requires. This is a deep world with a lot of backstory to it that requires a few viewpoint shifts and early chapters that can slow a reader down, but don’t stop because the reward is a great “cat-and-mouse” plot that drives the story quickly once everything is established.
I’m a fan of the setting and the magic system. I’m a big fan of epic landscapes and solid magic systems. This is still fairly soft, but the magic system is a plot solution device, it is, in fact, a source of conflict from my point of view.
Fans of heroic women will enjoy this story. Kallan isn’t a normal heroine. She may be one of the first “broken” female heroes I’ve seen. I don’t know that I’d go so far as to call her an antihero, but she isn’t the “pluckly lass” from down the road. She’s a queen and a young woman nearly broken by stress. Her journey alone makes the book worth reading.