The Shadow of What Was Lost by James Islington

Title: The Shadow of What Was Lost.
Series: The Licanius Trilogy #1.
Writer(s): James Islington.
Publisher: Orbit.
Format: Paperback.
Release Date: August 4th, 2014.
Pages: 693.
Genre(s): Fantasy.
ISBN13:  9780992580209.
My Overall Rating: ★★★★☆.


There’s something truly magical in the idea of going on an unexpected quest early in your life, to be asked to do incredible things despite just being an inexperienced child growing in this cruel, cruel world. Seamlessly blending realism with mysticism, making the impossible seem so tangible, is where fantasy worlds reign over all others. The journey, the lessons, the discovery. These are what really stimulates the imagination, leaving you salivating for more adventures, no matter how familiar certain tropes can be. Leave it to author James Islington to bring readers an odyssey to remember, where history cannot be repressed or forgotten as it surges back into the realm of the living and forces secrets to be unveiled. The first book of The Licanius Trilogy offers a charming piece of story-telling wonder that will have you craving for more.

What is The Shadow of What Was Lost about? In the land of Andarra, the dictatorial Augurs ruled the land with their ability to glimpse into the future. By forcing into slavery the Gifted, individuals capable of manipulating Essence, the life energy of all living things, the Augurs established their control over the land with their reverential and irrevocable decisions, until they saw their powers falter. Following a revolution of the populace, the Gifted accepted to be subjugated to the Four Tenets, thus setting a seal on their powers and instating absolute obedience within the new administration and the underlying hierarchy. It is after two decades that three young teenagers, Davian, Wirr, and Ashalia, students at the Tol Athian—a school for the Gifted—see themselves dragged into a chain of events that will forever change Andarra if nothing is done about it.


If there’s one thing this first debut novel is not missing, it’s world-building. Brilliantly misleading the reader into believing in an academic setting from the beginning, author James Islington quickly steers his narrative outside the walls of the school as he sends his protagonists on an epic quest where the stakes are not limited to individual growth but encompass societal and political ramifications. To further embellish the perilous adventure, he also injects a cautious amount of history and religion into the story, breathing life into his universe and allowing its magical components to strive. The foundation of this story arc is also cemented in secrets, secrets that have permeated throughout generations, illustrating profound manipulation of facts, depending on the source’s perspective.

Following this theme of secrecy, every character in this tale hides something deep down within them as they look to stay hidden from those who seek harm or keep an upper hand in their own personal scheming. Ultimately, it is their search for the truth that ties them together. Nonetheless, the three protagonists in this story were all brilliantly developed and presented the reader with an engaging adventure to embark on. Davian’s struggle to utilize Essence despite being marked as a Gifted gave way to a character trying to understand his place in the world. Wirr’s determination to help his best friend while hiding his past from all those he encounters is suspicious, if not brave, but it’s his wit and intellect that turns him into a fascinating character. Ashalia’s fate sends her whirling into a web of political intrigue with her life crumbling before her eyes but her loyalty drives her to do what is right. On top of these three key figures in this adventure, other characters join this plight and turn this story into an unequivocal memorable peril.

The Shadow of What Was Lost is a fantastic epic journey through a world rich with lore as it unravels a medley of secrets that will have young heroes fight for the truth.


Thank you to Hachette Book Group Canada for sending me a copy for review!



20 thoughts on “The Shadow of What Was Lost by James Islington

  1. Well, I had the first 2 books on my tbr, while I was waiting for the final book to come out. It took so long though that I gave up. Maybe if the whole trilogy really impresses you I might consider adding it all back. We’ll see I guess…

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’ve been tempted by this series for so long and seeing reviews pop up for the following two, but not reading them in case of spoilers, has kept me fairly distant. Reading this review has me wanting to read it now.

    It’s a toss up between this and The Gutter Prayer for my next audio book 🤔

    Fine review, good sir.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I greatly appreciate the kind words, Aaron! I’m quite happy to put this back on your radar and I hope that it will be a journey to remember when you get the chance to try it out.

      As for your dilemma. I would’ve said The Gutter Prayer since I LOVED that one even more (it’s on my top 5 books read in 2019 too). Whichever you pick, I hope you have a good time, good sir! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Not long ago I read a very enthusiastic review of the complete trilogy, which prompted me to add it to my “wanted” list, and now your comments on book 1 have conviced me I have to read this saga, because it’s singing a “siren song” I cannot ignore… 😀
    Thank you so much for sharing this!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The importance of world building cannot be understated, especially in genres such as fantasy and science fiction and even more essential if it’s an ongoing series. I really must take a dive into some fantasy one day, I always favour science fiction but never opposed to broadening literary horizons! Ace review as ever my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

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