Gift of the Shaper

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Is D.L. Jennings a modern Homer?

His epic novel The Gift of the Shaper is not mere fantasy, but reminiscent of classic mythology. Jennings explores the tension between opposing forces, an explanation of the origins of the world, fate, and prophecy, supernatural and nonhuman characters, and the completion of a quest. In Jennings’ world, good has a long-standing feud with evil—those who Shape versus those who Break.

Thornton Woods, son of a blacksmith, leaves his village of Highglade with his childhood friend, Miera. They head to Lusk, a major city, to sell their respective merchandise. During their travels, they are accosted by a Khyth—one who possesses the power to Break. The Khyth and his lackeys are explicitly drawn to Thornton and Miera. The two childhood friends have no idea why they are targeted. They are ordinary humans, or so they think. Thankfully two Keinari—towering beasts appearing like a cross between a cat and a wolf—come to their rescue. The Keinari fulfill the mentor archetype—full of wisdom and honesty. The Khyth have intel about Thornton and Miera, and they will use whatever they can to free the Breaker of the Dawn—an imprisoned creator of the world. And so the journey begins…secrets and prophecies will be revealed, the power of the Otherworld, and the power of sacrifice will unfold through these mere humans.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to any lover of mythology, epic, or fantasy literature.
As I previously mentioned, the book contains several elements of mythology, one being the origins of the world. The world was created by the Shaper of Ages, the Breaker of the Dawn, and the Binder of Worlds. These co-creators seem almost like delegates representing the diversity of the world they ultimately create, what’s more, two of the co-creators use feminine pronouns. I can’t help but applaud Jennings for establishing a society in which equality is attempted—sadly, it fails. In every world, some choose power over justice. Power can bring about corruption, and often times it leads to betrayal; Jennings makes this theme of power and betrayal clear using several characters throughout his work.

The Gift of the Shaper is beautifully written; Jennings is a true word artist. Not only did he create language—names, native tongues, creatures, places—in his novel, but his description and sensory detail seem far beyond that of a debut novelist. My only grievance—sometimes the descriptions are a bit wordy. For instance, in one scene a character is conjuring a portal, and it takes about four lengthy paragraphs to produce the portal. This verbose description is beautiful and vivid; it’s just that, in some scenes, getting to the action is more important than description. Again, Jennings is an incredible writer. Any reader who loves to be engrossed in an elaborate plot will enjoy his novel. He will not disappoint—he keeps the surprises coming. Now I would like to conjure a portal into a world where book two is already done—corny, but true.

READ our interview with D.L. Jennings.

Chris Hayden

Chris Hayden been working at City Book Review since 2012, so that makes him the keeper of knowledge. He manages the office and book reviewers (all 200 of them!), which is no small feat. If you’re looking at the book reviews here, you’re seeing them because he sent the books out for review. Without him, this place would fall apart, because no one else in the office knows how to use the postage machine. Two words: job security.


Reviewed By:

Author D.L. Jennings
Star Count 5/5
Format Trade
Page Count 456 pages
Publisher Indigo River
Publish Date 2018-Feb-07
ISBN 9781948080070
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue November 2018
Category Science Fiction & Fantasy
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