An 'everything but the kitchen sink' novel!
Series: book 1: The Fallen Shadows Trilogy
Setting: fictitious world
Mature Themes: violence, murder, death & sex
Recommendation: This is a tricky one. Fantasy and epic quest readers will absolutely enjoy this novel. Politics, religion, personal interplay, all of these themes are present and not for the lover of "fluffy" reads. If you can get past the high religious content this is a wonderful, fully realized epic adventure.
The plot was long and complicated. Kiran and his friends meet so many different cultures and religions along their journey that the middle of the story seemed to drag when compared to the urgency of the beginning and excitement of the end. The main plot driver of this book almost landed it on my did not finish shelf, religion, a LOT of it. Every culture had a different one, and each was victimized by at least one of the seven travelers, including their own. While the struggles the young travelers experience with regard to religion feels accurate, it's also not what I enjoy reading, especially close to four-hundred pages of it.
The setting of the novel is epic...really epic. There are so many places they travel to and all are described in exquisite detail. This was the highlight of the novel. More than once I found myself re-reading passages so I could re-visualize the scenery and bask in it's depth. Each of the indigenous people in these areas are so well written to match their surroundings they make you feel as if they are real and the author has first hand knowledge with them all.
Last but not least, characters. Kiran and his friends are an interesting bunch. The scholar, the brute, the beautiful girl, the religious man, etc. Each personality was developed well and enough to satisfy the need their role hand for the larger plot. The dynamic between characters was real and at some points heart wrenching and made you want to scream at them.