My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Stalking the Shadowsby BJ Edwards is a tale of bravery, sacrifice, war, cruelty, greed, friendship, magic, and gods. BJ writes this story describing the very beginning of human existence – between the upper Paleolithic and lower Mesolithic eras. Even though I am not a fan of the action genre, I found myself spellbound by the poetic and descriptive style of author’s writing. His rich vocabulary amused me throughout 59 chapters of the book.
The story begins with a graphic description of physical appearance and rivalry of homo neanderthals and homo sapiens –
The men who inhabited this land were one of the surviving pockets of Homo neanderthalensis. They were a robust species; tall, proud, strong and viciously territorial. Their features were strong, their foreheads narrow, their jaws and brows slightly jutting. Their bodies and limbs were thick with muscle, and although slightly hunched they were fast and athletic. The enemy was a new breed of man, the Homo sapiens sapiens. They were taller and more wiry; where the Neanderthals had hair and muscle, the Homo sapiens had paler skin and sinew, their foreheads broad, their lips thinner, and their noses sharper. They lacked the power and the strength of the Neanderthal, but they made up for it in intelligence, adaptability, and resilience.
Dimek is the son of homo sapiens tribe’s chief, Hamek. One day, Dimek goes for hunting an animal, but he becomes trapped. Two men of neanderthals Impoola tribe help him and teaching him the ways of their tribe. However, Hamek’s men come to Impoola tribe in search of Dimek and start killing the people of this tribe. An elder of the tribe, who is powerful and knows magic, curses Hamek’s tribe. As a result, the land of Hamek becomes affected with the scarcity of food. Drushuk, who is powerful similar to the elder of Impoola tribe, suggests Hamek to leave this land and move to another place; however, Hamek does not pay heed to his advice. Dimek knows that Drushuk’s advice is right, but does not contradict him. He – along with Drushuk – secretly leaves the land with a few warriors and hunters of the tribe. Hamek is very angry and he sends Mugra to bring Dimek back to him. On finding Dimek and his men, Mugra challenges them to fight with him. Drushuk knows that they cannot win without his intervention; therefore, he starts chanting and calling his gods. Before Mugra’s people could understand, a river starts drowning his men. Terrified, they leave the place. Hamek orders a warrior to kill Mugra while he is asleep, but he fails. On confronting Hamek, Mugra is ordered to leave the tribe. The fire of revenge burns inside him and he pledge to become chief of the tribe by killing Hamek. One may think that what is so different about a book about the tale of revenge. Well, the difference is in the introduction of gods. BJ writes about two sets of gods. One set includes dark gods: Balor and Camulos. Other ones are good gods: Vantis and Modron. Balor and Camulos wish the end of the human race, whereas Vantis and Modron see extreme potential in humans. The dark gods challenge the good ones to destroy the golden road and silver bridge or be ready to battle. After multiple failed attempts at convincing them to retreat their challenge, the good gods choose to fight. Balor and Camulos start interfering with the normal flow of life on earth. Balor takes control of Mugra’s mind and starts controlling his every action. Mugra starts forming his army by forcing men to join him or suffer his wrath. On the other side, Drushuk senses the evil and starts building his own army with Dimek and others. On earth, these men are destined to fight with one another, and in another world, gods are strategizing their plan to save or destroy the bridge and the road.
Author’s selection of words to describe the events is very beautiful. When he intends to exhibit the cruelty of his evil characters, he does not hold anything back. Weak-hearted people may wish to fast read the paragraphs, where they may sense an upcoming act of torture. His perfectly placed words are enough to paint a picture of the emotions that his characters are feeling. In these lines, he wishes to express intense fear –
The eye looked at the beasts, looked at Modron, and then chaos reigned. Hooves, screaming animals, dissembled thoughts, shattered minds, none of those beasts would ever sleep again, so ravaged they would be by evil dreams, dreams of that face, dreams of that eye, the eye that showed each one of them their worst fears and most dire dreams. For a moment, Modron stood rooted to the polished rock, unable to move or speak.
The acts of magic, which Drushuk, Balor, Camulos or any other character performed, are written with utmost perfection. BJ’s writing is truly impressive and inspiring. The final battle between men and gods is terrifying and thrilling. The actions and dialogues of each character are written flawlessly.
I believe the readers, who enjoy an action-packed book written with absolute perfection, would love this book. Read this book and share your experience. I am sure every reader will fall in love with BJ Edward’s magnificent writing style.