In the outstanding opening scene, Tarrik is ripped from the demon realm, and called by a new master to do her bidding. Ren is a soceress threatened by many adversaries and the summoning brings muscle. This starts a relationship that is edged in suspicion, capitulation, and maybe even an eventual respect. Tarrik’s own history of interactions with humans complicates things and adds great depth and enjoyment to his character. His anger and base rage… the nature of the relationship will bend and develop throughout the novel. This is really one of the most interesting aspects of this book.
The world is ruled by political sects that seek domination over demons and as has happened in the past, rogue demons over humans. Tarrik is very reluctantly brought into this ethereal play for power, but soon finds reason to sympathize with his new master.
The biggest draw for this book is that it is told from the demon’s perspective. There is a tendency to drawn the antihero without much dimension, but Hogan’s protagonist, his quirks and proclivities, is a very good one. There are many other highlights in this book: Catacombs fighting, original monsters, spear fighting, cants, and an inventive style of sorcery.
But the drawback of the work is in the telling of the story. For much of the book, Tarrik is in the dark as to Ren’s true motives. And with him, the reader also is lacking some basic information. The audience is allowed a slow drip and some solid fight scenes early on to help to sate the need for conflict, but it just wasn’t enough. The pacing does pick up after the midway point as the mystery starts to reveal itself.
Overall, Shadow of the Exile has a solid premise and some great characterization, but the storytelling and pacing are lacking at times.
3 1/2 out of 5 stars.
Thank you to NetGalley, 47North, and Mitchell Hogan for the advanced copy for review.