Review: All the Paths of Shadow

All the Paths of Shadow by Frank Tuttle

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I got this book as part of a StoryBundle bundle, so I didn’t specifically buy this book because I wanted to read it. It turned out to be a nice book in a steampunk-lite second world. (Steampunk-lite in that there are dirigibles. And it’s a Victorian setting. But deep into the book you find out that most of the stuff that would traditionally be explained to run on steam are actually running on mundane magic spells)

The story revolves around a world in which each country has a court mage and our protagonist is the first female court mage in Not-England. It’s time for Not-England, Not-Scotland, Not-Ireland, and Not-Germany to renew their treaty. The King wants to give a speech in the park, but there’s an ancient tower that would cast a shadow over him. So he assigns the court mage to make sure he’s not in shadow. Very early in the book, it’s revealed that Not-China will be journeying to Not-England for the first time in hundreds of years.

Our protagonist is very likable. She’s witty and sarcastic and determined. The side characters, including the prior court mage are also very fun people to spend time with. Our protagonist has some concerns about not failing as the first female mage, but it’s not the main point of the book. For the most part all the doubts relating to her gender are in the past, it’s more of a bit of extra motivation not to screw up.

Overall, just like the Becky Chambers books I’ve been reading recently, it’s nice to have a situation where the main character is surrounded by people who care for her and trust her and are trying to be helpful and encouraging. Her only worries are from outside the group.

The only knock I have against the book is that the conflicts almost veer into the realm of MacGuffins. and they are almost beside the point. It almost reads as though this is a novel to set up a world in which Tuttle will eventually tell more substantial stories.

It’s a fun, relatively easy read that I recommend to anyone who wants a magical fantasy in a Victorian England setting.

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