Shadeward: Expiation, by Drew Wagar: #BookReview.

The story concludes. And what a conclusion! Drew Wagar has created a masterpiece with this quartet of fantasy/sci-fi books set on a distant world in a not-too-distant future.

In keeping with the social structure and history of the people starring in this series, he has kept the technological aspects as brief as possible, including only those aspects that have a true bearing on the story. That, however, does not mean he’s stinted on the research he’s done to make such technology credible. It plays a part and is essential to the tale without being its raison d’ȇtre.

The people are the essence of these books; their characters, personalities, relationships, dreams, hopes, ambitions, their goodness and their evil, their compassion and their indifference. The author has created a world credibly peopled by a great variety of individuals; you’ll find no stereotypes here, though you may identify a few archetypes.

The climax of the story that develops through the first three books is reached here, and it is dramatic, moving, and comprehensive. No loose ends. We know what happens to all the main movers, there is joy, sadness, anger, exhilaration, wonder and relief here. I was moved to tears in places.
Drew’s skill with description is such that the reader is no mere witness but an actual part of the action, feeling with the players, hearing the noises, smelling the scents, tasting the blood, living in this invented world as if it is home.

There’s a good deal of action in this final part. But there’s also romance, developing relationships, political intrigue, companionship, exploration, wonder, and discovery. I found I was taking every possible opportunity to read, even when other matters deserved my full attention. Yes, definitely a page-turner. Cliff-hangers, as well as subtle hints of what’s to come, drive the story forward and persuade the reader to read just one more chapter.

Drew has invented several terms to fit his created society and has very helpfully included an appendix describing the various terms in each of the books. I advise new readers to look over these before starting, as they will allow a deeper understanding and involvement.

There is also a well-scripted epilogue, describing the genesis of the civilisation, how they came to be and what type of world they left behind them to reach their new home. It’s a relevant and timely warning of what we risk here in our world unless we change our ways, and do so soon.

A really great read in a well-constructed and realised fictional world. A series worthy of Asimov and Bradbury.

Other books in the Shadeward series I have reviewed here:
Book 1 – Emanation
Book 2 – Exoneration
Book 3 – Enervation  

[Any review is a personal opinion. No reviewer can represent the view of anyone else. The best we can manage is an honest reaction to any given book.]