Shadows of Ivory by T.L.Greycock
T. L. Greylock, Bryce O'Connor
Bryce O'Connor, 4 Jul 2020
By day, Eska de Caraval digs for ancient treasure in the dust and dirt and sweltering sun. By night, she dons the embroidered silks and jewels that are the markings of her family's success. Spurred by a relentless thirst to lay bare the world's secrets, Eska has led Firenzia Company to renown across the Seven Cities of Bellara, and far beyond. But when she comes into possession of a priceless reliquary with a harrowing history-one of six lost to the centuries-and the treacherous artifact within, Eska unwittingly sets off a race to uncover the other five and the powers they contain. Bankrupt and bitter, Manon Barca supports a brother and a failing company on loans she cannot repay, all while her disgraced father rots in prison. Determined to drag her family name out of oblivion, Manon does not fear to take on the might of Eska de Caraval and Firenzia Company, even if it means sabotaging an excavation and endangering innocent lives. When her reckless decisions put her at the mercy of one of the most powerful men in the Seven Cities, Manon finds herself caught in a storm beyond her making, one that will see the sundering of alliances that have stood for three hundred years.As the de Caraval and Barca rivalry surges, Eska must wield intellect and steel against a web of enemies and deceit, all while Manon battles tirelessly to preserve the final remnants of her family and its legacy.Neither, however, is prepared to contend with the rising tide of an ancient menace unleashed upon the world once more?.
This is one of those books that for me had a lot of promise but ultimately fell flat for a number of reasons.
The story revolves around three main protagonists, Eska de Carvelle, Mannon Barca and finally, the bookish Albus Courtney (who also happens to be a close friend of Eska de Carvelle).
We initially start the book by meeting Eska de Carvelle, mid heist and ultimately getting caught by the person that she is stealing from. This sets off a chain of events in which Eska finds herself framed for murder and subsequently being pursued across the continent. In the midst of this she manages to fit in a bit of archeology which leads her to make some amazing discoveries.
Running alongside Eska's narrative arc, is Mannon Barca's arc. We learn that the Barca company is in direct competition with Eska's company who both trade in artefacts from the past. Similar to Eska, Mannon finds herself in a series of inexplicable events which particularly revolve around her skills in magic, which is called carrying in the book. We soon learn that carriers, or magic users, are reviled and untrusted in this world. However, she soon finds herself being used by the larger powers.
The final arc in the story is Albus Courtney, a bookish Librarian who is closely linked to Eska. When he finds some information in relation to the artefacts that Eska finds he sets sail to find her. Whilst sailing to meet her, he finds himself on the otherside of the world, held captive and discovering that power that the world has long thought dormant is rising up again.
Right, let's first deal with the positives. I loved the world and the world building that goes on throughout the story. I just loved the renaissance Italian setting that the world is set against, and the book is written so that the backdrop is vividly used.
As well as this, I did like the characters, well, mostly. Eska in herself reminded me very much of Lara Croft, particularly her background of being a rich socialite life that she has. Initially, I found her quite an interesting character. However, as the book moved along I became in equal parts frustrated and annoyed with her.
And then there's Mannon. Whilst Mannon is not a bad character, I felt that she was a bit flat, but it was her arc that I found the most interesting. Particularly when she becomes enmeshed with higher powers that want to use her abilities.
The best of the three was Albus, and whenever he turned up he stole the show with his mixture of natural innocence about the world and innate intelligence. But, he would just disappear for ages. It was like he was forgotten for a while and then he would be brought back in when the authors remembered he was there.
I think the problem that I had with the book was the narrative. I just felt it never went anywhere, major plot points were brought in and then never seemed to have any impetus on the narrative. For instance, Eska is accused of the murder of a prominent ambassador, she gets imprisoned for an hour or two, she escapes, and then that's that, only to have it crop up a little while later. It was like it was almost forgotten, and then she goes traipsing around the countryside excavating dig sites, having a bit of a romantic interlude, picking up a stray Barca along the way and loads of other stuff.
And it's a similar story with the connecting storylines, there just doesn't seem to be any consistency with the narrative at all, which ultimately left me feeling unfulfilled, especially as the story initially seemed to have so much promise. And there is some promise in the book, both T.L. Greylock and Bryce O' Conner can obviously write, and there is plenty of good descriptive prose and engaging dialogue.
And finally there was the ending. It just sort of fizzled out. There was not a feeling of a reeling denouement that leaves the reader wanting more, it just kinda goes flumpf and then finishes, and I was like …..what?
I know that plenty of others liked this one, but unfortunately for me, Shadows of Ivory completely missed the mark.