A Dream of Shadows (The Shadow Bidder: Book 1)by Peter Eliott

Publisher: Further Press

Date of publication: November 1st, 2022

Genre: Fantasy

Series: The Shadow Bidder

A Dream of Shadows—Book 1

Purchase Links: Kindle | B&N | AbeBooks

Goodreads Synopsis:

“It is not often that a man steps through a doorway knowing that he has just made the best and worst decision of his entire life.” So declares notorious criminal, Vazeer the Lash, at the start of A Dream of Shadows. Raised in Hell’s Labyrinth, the corrupt city where crime and violence are the order of the day, Vazeer has lived on a knife’s edge his entire adult life working as a contract smuggler. Having turned himself into an educated man, Vazeer longs to retire from his nefarious career, which has always been at odds with the more cultured side of his personality.

His chance comes when he is paid a fortune to bring down The Raving Blade, one of Hell’s Labyrinth’s most infamous and sadistic power brokers. Vazeer joins a rogue’s gallery of expert Shadow Bidders, each a master of a unique set of unsavory skills, to complete one last contract. Among them are a brilliant actress who finds herself playing a key role in a criminal world where she doesn’t belong, and a calm, mysterious assassin, who draws events ever forward towards a series of increasingly dire consequences.

With life and death hanging in the balance, a dangerous romance unfolds. Secrets are revealed and violence erupts, irreversibly blurring the line between good and evil.

Perfect for fans of George RR Martin, Joe Abercrombie, and Patrick Rothfuss, A Dream of Shadows marks the start of a thrilling new literary fantasy series from Peter Eliott.

First Line:

It’s strange the things you remember. When I call up my story, it always drags with itself a smell, a distinct smell, one that intermittently haunts my memories and dreams with the ghostly provocation of a dead lover’s perfume.

A Dream of Shadows by Peter Eliott

Vazeer the Lash wants to retire from his life as a smuggler. Born and raised in Hell’s Labyrinth, a city filled with criminals, smugglers, and murderers, Vazeer longs to leave that life behind and start a new one as a cultured man. He gets his chance when offered a Bid with several other people. If he gets this job down within the time, he will be financially set for the rest of his life. But, in a world where life and death balance on a dangerous edge, Vazeer must balance that line carefully. Because one misstep, one wrong move could send this Bid into a tailspin.

I was immediately intrigued by the blurb for A Dream of Shadows, but I almost didn’t accept the author’s invitation to review. I was over-saturated with reviews for June. But something about this book called to me, and after much thought, I decided to review it. I am glad that I did because this was a great read.

A Dream of Shadows is a fast-paced read. The entire storyline takes place within 48 hours of the Bid being placed. I did find some lag toward the end of the book (when Vazeer is swept through the tunnels), but it didn’t bother me. I also found myself flipping back to previous chapters or making notes about different characters. That did bother me a little, but since I was taking notes anyways, it wasn’t a huge deal.

The storyline for A Dream of Shadows was well-written and complex. It is layered and complex, with nuances and histories that will need more than one book to explain. This twisty storyline also kept me guessing what would happen next. I didn’t know what the next chapter would bring, and I loved that.

Vazeer wasn’t written to be liked, and he was an unreliable narrator. He came across as a snob, and no one liked him except for a minor and a main character. But, weirdly enough, I liked him. He was good at what he did (smuggling), and all he wanted was to retire and surround himself with art, antiques, and books. Oh, and let’s not forget that he is very morally gray. While he proclaimed himself a villain at the beginning of the book, I came to see him as an antihero.

I want to warn you that this book involves a lot of blood, gore, and violence. Considering the city’s violence and who they were going after, I wasn’t surprised.

The end of A Dream of Shadows is one of the bloodiest I have ever read. It also surprised me with the twist that seemingly came out of nowhere. I was surprised at what I read and wondered how Vazeer would deal with the fallout from everything in the upcoming books. I also didn’t quite trust who Vazeer met on the boat. There was something about that person that seemed off to me. Also, I was surprised at who visited Vazeer in his dream state and what that person wanted. I was left with more questions than answers, and hopefully, they will get answered in book 2.

I recommend A Dream of Shadows to anyone over 21. There are nongraphic sexual situations, mild language, and graphic violence.

Many thanks to Peter Eliott for allowing me to read and review A Dream of Shadows. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

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