Gift of the Shaper

D. L. Jennings
Indigo River Publishing (2018)
ISBN 9781948080071
Reviewed by Skyler Boudreau for Reader Views (11/18)

“Gift of the Shaper” is the first in an epic fantasy series following the struggle between two different magical orders as they fight for control of a key that will grant them access to the mysterious Otherworld, where they draw their magic from.

Author D. L. Jennings makes excellent use of the multiple narrators in this debut novel. Each one adds a fresh flavor to the narrative, keeping readers actively engaged with their individual plotlines. By the end of the novel, Jennings has skillfully woven them all together in a single, spectacular battle.

Some narrators came off much stronger than others. There were times when the main character, a young blacksmith named Thorton Woods, seemed like more of a side character. While his early chapters are interesting, by the last third of the novel it seemed that his plot line had wrapped up. With the exception of providing a starting point for the main plot, I felt that his character could have been explored at a deeper level. Readers don’t learn much about him after his initial introduction until a plot twist near the end.

“Gift of the Shaper” is more plot-driven than character-driven, but for me there were a few missed opportunities for character development, particularly with Thorton and the antagonists, that could have served the story well.

One of the strongest elements of “Gift of the Shaper” is the magic system. This novel is fast-paced and action-packed, something that is only accentuated by the abilities the characters possess. Two brands of magic are put face to face during this adventure: Shaping and Breaking. Shaping is the power to transmute matter into different forms and is practiced by an ancient race called the Athrani. Breaking is similar but has some limitations the latter doesn’t. It’s used as a weapon of the antagonists; a race called the Khyth who warred with the Athrani long before “Gift of the Shaper” takes place. When both sides clash, it’s interesting to see how each style of magic interacts with the other.

“Gift of the Shaper” is a fun, entertaining debut novel that ends with a bang. With such a strong start, the rest of D. L. Jennings’ first series will definitely be something to look out for!