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An Echo of Things to Come
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Following a devastating attack, an amnesty has been declared for all Augurs — finally allowing them to emerge from hiding and openly oppose the dark forces massing against the land of Andarra.
The Augur Davian and his new allies hurry north toward the ever-weakening Boundary, but fresh horrors along their path suggest that their reprieve may have come far too late.
The new Northwarden, his ally in the Capital, contends with assassins and politicians and uncovers a dangerous secret. Meanwhile, their compatriot Asha begins a secret investigation into the disappearance of the Shadows.
And Caeden races against time to fulfill a treacherous bargain, but as more and more of his memories return, he begins to realize that the two sides in this ancient war may not be as clear-cut as they first seemed. . .
The following is meant only as a quick, high-level refresher of the events in The Shadow of What Was Lost, rather than a thorough synopsis. As such, many important occurrences and characters will be glossed over during this recap, and some—in a few cases—are not mentioned at all.
Two thousand years ago, the Boundary—a barrier of energy that separates the land of Andarra from the northern wastelands of Talan Gol—was erected. Though many details surrounding this event have been lost, religion holds that the Boundary was created as a prison for Aarkein Devaed, a terrifyingly powerful invader who commanded twisted monsters and sought the destruction of the entire world. During the same tumultuous period in history, the Darecians—a powerful race of people who ruled Andarra at the time of the invasion—mysteriously vanished.
The Darecians' role was eventually filled by the emergence of the Augurs: a new group of people able to use a power called kan, which (among other abilities) allowed them to see an immutable future. To assist in their governing of Andarra, the Augurs chose the Gifted—those able to manipulate a reserve of their own life force, called Essence, to physically affect the world around them.
This hierarchy, once established, remained virtually unchallenged for hundreds of years.
A generation ago, that changed.
After several embarrassing mistakes, it became apparent that the Augurs' visions had abruptly stopped coming to pass. Refusing to openly admit that there was a problem, the Augurs instead withdrew from the public eye as they tried to determine what was happening, tasking the Gifted with controlling an increasingly nervous populace. Public unrest soon turned to anger as some of the Gifted began overstepping their new mandate, often violently. A schism in Andarran society quickly formed.
Eventually, things came to a head and a shocking, bloody rebellion overthrew the Augurs and the Gifted, with the uprising instigated by Duke Elocien Andras—a member of the previously token monarchy—and fueled by the mysterious proliferation of new weapons designed to target those with powers. The Augurs were summarily killed, and of the five original Gifted strongholds (called Tols), only two—Tol Athian and Tol Shen—held out against the initial attack.
After spending five years trapped behind their Essence-powered defenses, the Gifted finally signed the Treaty with Duke Andras and the monarchy, officially ending hostilities. The cost to the Gifted, however, was high. The Tenets were created: four magically enforced, unbreakable laws that heavily restricted the use of Gifted abilities. Commoners were also allowed to become Administrators of the Treaty, giving them even more legal and practical control over those who could wield Essence.
Furthermore, any Gifted who broke any terms of the Treaty not covered by the Tenets were forced to become Shadows, permanently stripped of their abilities and horribly disfigured in the process. This applied most often to the unfortunate Gifted students who lacked the skills to pass their graduation Trials, and who were therefore not vouched for by the Tols as able to adequately control their powers.
Thus the Gifted, while technically free again, remained heavily policed and despised by most. Meanwhile, the powers of the Augurs were condemned under the Treaty. For any who were discovered to have such capabilities, a death sentence at the hands of Administration awaited.
THE SHADOW OF WHAT WAS LOST
Sixteen-year-old Davian is an intelligent, hardworking student at the Gifted school at Caladel—but as his Trials approach, he still cannot figure out how to wield his powers, despite having the Mark on his forearm that both binds him to the Tenets and indicates that he has previously used Essence. To make matters worse, Davian can unfailingly tell when someone is lying—something that only an Augur should be able to do. His closest friends, Wirr and Asha, are the only ones he has told about this unusual skill.
When Elders from Tol Athian arrive early to conduct the Trials, Davian is approached in the dead of night by one of the newcomers, a man called Ilseth Tenvar. Ilseth claims to have been a member of the sig'nari, the group of Gifted who served directly under the Augurs before the rebellion twenty years ago. He admits to knowing that Davian is an Augur, and urges him to leave before he fails his Trials and is turned into a Shadow. Ilseth also provides Davian with a mysterious bronze box, which he explains will guide Davian to somewhere he can be properly trained.
Confident the Elder is telling him the truth, Davian leaves the school that same night; Wirr, after discovering at the last second Davian's plan to flee, refuses to let him go alone and accompanies him.
Unaware of these events, Asha wakes the following morning to find that everyone in the school has been brutally killed. In shock and not knowing why she is the only one to have escaped the slaughter, she realizes that Davian and Wirr's bodies are not among the dead. However, when Ilseth discovers that Asha has been left untouched, he reveals himself to have been complicit in the assault. Assuming that Asha was deliberately left alive by his superiors (and being unwilling to kill her himself as a result), Ilseth instead turns her into a Shadow, thereby erasing her memory of everything she has seen that morning—including the knowledge that Davian and Wirr may still be alive.
Davian and Wirr head north, avoiding trouble until they are captured by two Hunters—the Andarran term for those who track down and kill the Gifted for profit. However, they are rescued by another Hunter, Breshada, who despite her profession mysteriously lets them go again, saying only that they owe their thanks to someone called Tal'kamar.
Continuing to follow Ilseth's instructions, the boys cross the border into Desriel, a country governed by a religious organization called the Gil'shar, who believe that all human manipulation of Essence is an abomination. In Desriel, the punishment for even being born with such an ability is death.
Navigating several dangers, Wirr and Davian are led by Ilseth's bronze box to a young man named Caeden, a prisoner of the Gil'shar. They set him free, only to be attacked by a creature known as a sha'teth. Caeden saves them from the sha'teth in a display of astonishing power, despite being physically weakened from his captivity.
Meanwhile, Asha is brought to Andarra's capital Ilin Illan by Ilseth, who continues to pretend that he had nothing to do with the slaughter at Caladel. The Athian Council—the group of Elders who lead Tol Athian—come to believe that Asha may hold the key to finding out more about the attack, but do not wish to share this information with Administration, who are also looking into the incident. The Athian Council decides to keep her at the Tol, hiding her true identity from everyone else.
After a traumatic encounter with a sha'teth that mysteriously refuses to attack her, Asha meets Scyner, the man in charge of a secret underground refuge for Shadows known as the Sanctuary. Scyner recruits Asha to find out why Duke Elocien Andras—head of Administration, and enemy to those in the Sanctuary—is showing such great interest in the attack on her school.
When Elocien hears that Asha is a survivor of the attack, he uses Tol Athian's need of a new political Representative in the ruling body of the Assembly to have Asha assigned to the palace. Asha soon learns that Wirr is Elocien's son; he may not only still be alive, but thanks to his birthright will one day be able to single-handedly change the Tenets. Despite Elocien's reputation as the driving force behind the rebellion twenty years ago, Asha also discovers that he has secretly been working with three young Augurs for the past few years—Kol, Fessi, and Erran. Knowing this, she realizes that she cannot betray Elocien's trust to Scyner, despite the deal she had previously agreed to.
In Desriel, Davian, Wirr, and Caeden meet Taeris Sarr, a Gifted in hiding who believes that Caeden is somehow tied to the recent, worrying degradation of the Boundary. Taeris also reveals that Ilseth Tenvar lied to Davian during their encounter at the school, and so exactly why Davian was sent to Caeden remains a mystery. Concerned that Ilseth's motives are untoward and that his bronze box may trigger something undesirable upon contact with Caeden, Taeris recommends that the box be kept away from him until they know more.
Davian and Wirr soon discover that Caeden has been charged with murder by the Gil'shar—but has no memories of his past, and does not even know himself whether the accusations are true. Taeris determines that they need to head back to Andarra, to Ilin Illan, where Tol Athian has a Vessel (an Augur-made device created to use Essence in a specific way) that may be able to restore Caeden's memories. However, with the Desrielite borders so carefully guarded, they decide that their best course of action is to enlist the help of Princess Karaliene Andras—Wirr's cousin—in order to get home.
When they finally meet with Karaliene, she recognizes Caeden as an accused murderer and refuses to risk a major diplomatic incident by smuggling him out of the country, despite Wirr's involvement. Their best hope dashed, Taeris determines that their only other option is to leave Desriel through the ancient, mysteriously abandoned border city of Deilannis.
In Ilin Illan, Asha forges new friendships with the Augurs, soon discovering that they have had unsettling visions of a devastating attack on the capital. Not long after, rumors begin to circulate of an invading force—christened "the Blind" due to their strange eye-covering helmets—approaching from the direction of the Boundary.
As she and Elocien try to determine how best to defend the city without exposing the Augurs, Asha makes the astonishing discovery that the Shadows are still able to access Essence, if they do so by using Vessels. This, she realizes, means that their abilities are only repressed when they are made into a Shadow, and not completely eliminated as was previously assumed.
After an abrupt, strange message from a seemingly older Davian, Asha becomes suspicious of Ilseth's version of events surrounding the attack on the school at Caladel, and has one of the Augurs restore her lost memory. When she finds out that Ilseth was complicit in the slaughter, she fools him into revealing his lies to the Athian Council, who subsequently imprison him.
As Davian and Wirr travel through the eerie, mist-covered city of Deilannis, they are attacked and Davian is separated from the rest of the group. He is caught in a strange rift, barely surviving his journey through the void; when he emerges back into Deilannis he meets Malshash, an Augur who tells him that he has traveled almost a century backward in time.
Disbelieving at first but eventually convinced of Malshash's claims, Davian spends time in Deilannis's Great Library, a massive storehouse of ancient knowledge. Under Malshash's guidance, he quickly learns to use and control his Augur abilities. Though Malshash's exact motivations for helping him remain unclear, Davian realizes that his teacher has been studying the rift in the hope that he can change something that has already happened.
Back in the present a devastated Wirr, believing Davian is dead, continues on to Ilin Illan with Taeris and Caeden. As they travel, they come across horrific evidence of the invading force from beyond the Boundary—strengthening their belief that they need to find a way to prevent it from collapsing entirely. Concerned that Caeden's memories may hold the key to exactly how to do that, they hurry to Ilin Illan before the Blind can reach the city.
Once in Ilin Illan, Taeris attempts to convince the Athian Council to help them, but the Council—having heard the accusations of murder leveled against Caeden and also influenced by their combative past with Taeris—refuse. With nowhere else to turn, Taeris and Caeden take refuge in the palace, where Wirr is able to convince Karaliene that Caeden is a central figure in what is happening.
In Deilannis, a training accident results in Davian experiencing Malshash's most traumatic memory: the death of his wife Elliavia at their wedding, and Malshash's desperate, failed attempt to save her afterward. Malshash, after conceding that this is one of the main reasons he wants to alter the past, sends Davian back to the present.
Davian heads for Ilin Illan but is briefly waylaid by another Augur, Ishelle, and an Elder from Tol Shen, Driscin Throll. The two attempt to convince Davian to join Tol Shen, but Davian has heard about the invasion by the Blind and is intent on reaching the capital in time to help.
Davian arrives in Ilin Illan, enjoying an all-too-brief reunion with Asha and Wirr before the Blind finally attack. Meanwhile Caeden and Taeris, understanding that the Athian Council is never going to help them restore Caeden's memory, plan to sneak into Tol Athian and do so without their permission. However, before they can use the Vessel that will restore Caeden's memories, Caeden instead activates Ilseth's mysterious bronze box, a flash of recognition leading him to leave through the fiery portal it subsequently creates.
As Wirr and Davian help with the city's defenses, Asha convinces Elocien to give Vessels from Administration's stockpile to the Shadows, as they are not bound by the Tenets and thus can freely use them against the invaders. After Asha and the Shadows join the fight, the Blind's first attack is successfully thwarted.
Despite this initial victory, Ilin Illan is soon breached and the Blind gain the upper hand in the battle. Elocien is killed as the Andarran forces desperately retreat, and Asha realizes to her horror that he has been under the control of one of the Augurs all along. She decides not tell a grieving Wirr, who, with Davian's help, hurries to Tol Athian and changes the Tenets so that all Gifted can fight. Even so, it appears that this new advantage may come too late.
Caeden finds himself in Res Kartha, where a man seemingly made of fire—Garadis ru Dagen, one of the Lyth—reveals that Caeden wiped his own memory, setting this series of events into motion in order to fulfill the terms of a bargain between the Lyth and someone called Andrael. This bargain now allows Caeden to take the sword Licanius, a powerful Vessel—but it also stipulates that he may keep the sword for only a year and a day, unless he devises a way to free the Lyth from Res Kartha.
Concerned about what he has agreed to but even more concerned for his friends, Caeden returns to Ilin Illan, utilizing the astonishing power of Licanius to destroy the invading army just as defeat for the Andarran forces seems inevitable.
In the aftermath of the battle—having revealed himself as an Augur during the fighting—Davian decides to take Ishelle up on her offer and head south to Tol Shen, where he believes he will be able to continue looking for a way to strengthen the Boundary against the dark forces beyond. Asha chooses to remain in Ilin Illan as Representative, while Wirr inherits the role of Northwarden, head of Administration.
Still searching for answers about his past, and determined to help his friends fight whatever is beyond the Boundary, Caeden uses the bronze Portal Box again. He this time finds himself in the Wells of Mor Aruil and meets an Augur named Asar Shenelac, who appears to recognize him.
To Caeden's horror, Asar restores a memory that indicates not only that Caeden was responsible for the murders in Desriel of which he was accused—but that he is in fact Aarkein Devaed.
Davian spun smoothly past another slow-moving bolt of shimmering white Essence, not bothering to extinguish it this time.
He darted across the rain-slick courtyard toward his target, weaving nimbly between the bright slivers of energy inching across the open space, all the while focusing on the spherical mesh of dark, hardened kan from which the attacks were emanating. He gritted his teeth, blinking away the occasional droplet of rain that made its way into his eyes, continuing to force back the flow of time as he moved. Everything was much harder this far from Deilannis. It was less than a minute since he'd begun, but already he was nearing his capacity to keep this up.
He stepped to the side as more bars of molten light appeared; he diverted some of his focus and snatched a few of them from the air nearby with kan, redirecting them back at their source. They hit the spinning sphere and simply dissipated.
He grunted, not bothering to look around as the first of the bolts he'd ignored finally smashed into the tall stone archway behind him, accompanied by the muted roar of crumbling masonry as it began to collapse.
The Elders were not going to like that.
Brightening at the thought, he dodged between the two kan barriers in his path—similar in construction to the sphere ahead, but entirely static—and skidded to his knees as another stream of light, this one far stronger than anything he'd seen thus far, sliced through the air where his head had been a few seconds earlier.
His eyes widened a little. That was new.
He growled, forcing himself up again and finally reaching the outer edge of the swirling sphere. He breathed deeply, the sharp cold of the winter's morning in his lungs helping him focus, clearing his head. He could do this. The barrier wasn't perfect—the hardened mesh confronting him was just a shell protecting active, malleable kan underneath, and he could occasionally spot the more vulnerable lines of dark energy writhing through the gaps.
The problem was that the mesh was constantly revolving. Even slowed though it was to his perception, the protective shell still moved too fast for him to accurately thread his own kan through it. And the moment any of his attacks touched the hardened, spinning outer layer, they dissipated like smoke in the wind.
Stepping into motion again he prowled the edge of the barrier, every nerve taut as Essence attacks flashed out at him, slowed but still requiring quick reactions at this range. In between the strikes he arrowed dark energy experimentally into the gaps of the sphere, probing for weaknesses. Each time, his threads were cut by the mesh before they could impact what was inside. He tried forcing the kan through faster, but to no avail. He tried matching his threads to the rotation; the shell somehow sensed what he was doing and jerked in response, changing direction, shifting savagely and unpredictably in order to slice through his attack.
He growled again, for a moment considering trying hardened kan of his own—but the memory of his last such attempt held him back. A kan blade would more easily disrupt the softer internal workings of the shield, but there was one firm rule when two constructs of hardened kan clashed: whichever was created first was stronger. Even if he succeeded in damaging what lay within, it wouldn't be fast enough to stop the mesh from rotating into his own attack.
And the last time he'd been manipulating hardened kan when it had been broken, he'd ended up bedridden for an entire day combating the resulting headache.
Davian's sense of urgency mounted as a faster-moving bar of Essence grazed his shoulder, and he felt time start to push against him again. He squinted. A portion of the sphere seemed to be only shell, with no active kan strands behind it at all. Was that right? Easier to maintain, he supposed, but flawed. Dependent on illusion for security. Hardened kan couldn't stop him from physically moving through it. And if he could place himself inside it without being hit by any of the active kan strands, the rest would be easy.
He waited three more full rotations of the mesh, batting away flashes of Essence, until the gap he'd spotted came toward him again.
He dove forward.
The world lurched as the active strands—rotating with the shell, hidden neatly between two close-set layers of hardened kan—caught him. He was ripped violently back into time, dropping to one knee and groaning, head spinning. His limbs felt weak and he swallowed, barely avoiding dry-retching. Behind him, he could hear the last pieces of the shattered archway still smashing to the ground.
When he'd recovered enough to look up, Ishelle's amused grin greeted him.
"You really thought you could just walk through it?"
Davian grunted. "I thought there was a gap," he coughed, rising unsteadily to his feet, quickly supported by Ishelle as he stumbled. "That was dirty."
Ishelle's smile widened as she gestured with her free hand, dismissing the barrier that had been whirling around her. "Because my shield actually did what it was supposed to do? Or because I outsmarted you?"
"Dirty," repeated Davian firmly, though he gave her a smile as he rubbed his head. He sighed, then politely disengaged himself from Ishelle's grasp, glancing around at the cloud of dust where the archway into the courtyard had once been. "And … hmm."
"Hmm," agreed Ishelle, giving him a stern look.
"That's not my fault," protested Davian. "There was no way I could have absorbed all of those bolts and kept myself outside of time."
"That was the point." Ishelle peered at him. "You need to be less competitive."
Davian snorted. "We won't mention that one blast that nearly took my head off, then." He sighed. "I still have no idea how to beat that shield of yours. You say you can maintain it while you're asleep, now, too? If mine was half as effective, I'd be ecstatic."
"A few years of constant nagging from Driscin helps get it right," observed Ishelle. She paused. "And the fact I'm better than you, of course. That's relevant, too."
Davian barked out a laugh, then immediately regretted it as pain shot through his skull. "Of course. Not counting when we practice with Reading, or communicating mentally, or altering our passage through time, or drawing Essence, or—"
Ishelle cut him off with a loud sigh of mock sadness. "Better, Davian. Better."
Davian grinned, but dipped his head slightly in acknowledgment. "Give me a few moments, then we can go again?"
"You don't want to try something a little less painful?" Ishelle glanced at the pile of debris. "Or, maybe, less destructive?"
"I want to." Davian shrugged. "But that's not why we're here."
Despite the light tone of the conversation, he couldn't keep an undercurrent of unease from his voice as he said the words. That was usually present whenever he talked about their training now, though. It had already been a month since the battle in Ilin Illan—three long weeks on the road, then the last one at Tol Shen itself.
And despite his best efforts, he was still none the wiser as to how they were supposed to seal the Boundary.
He sighed. These Disruption shields—designed to block any kan attack—were, apparently, the very first thing most Augurs were taught. That made sense, once Davian had thought about it. Given the importance they had placed on confirming visions, they would also have needed a way to be certain that those visions had not been artificially created or altered in any way.
More importantly right now, though, he and Ishelle had agreed that this was the best way to prepare for when they eventually did reach the Boundary. Though neither of them had any real idea what they'd be facing once they headed north, learning to circumvent the protection of hardened kan seemed like a logical move. It would be on an entirely different scale, of course—but assuming that the Boundary was protected from tampering, these types of barriers would almost certainly be involved.
It was all still speculation, though. Despite his hounding of the various Elders here—as well as spending every spare second that he could in Tol Shen's multiple libraries—information on what they were up against was even more scarce than Davian had initially feared.
Ishelle shrugged. "If you want to provide me with more entertainment, I won't complain."
Davian gave her a wry look, then stared up at the cold gray sky for a few seconds. "One more round. Just … give me a minute."
"I don't think a minute's going to help you." Ishelle slid smoothly onto the bench next to him—just close enough for him to feel uncomfortable, but not quite close enough for him to shuffle away without looking immature.
Davian leaned forward instead, twisting the ring on his forefinger absently and focusing on the courtyard. It was empty, as always. Reserved for the Augurs. Not just the yard, either—the towering buildings that surrounded it on all four sides, too. A large statue sat at each corner, each one holding pulsing, burning representations of weapons that lit the area brightly at night, as well as giving the Augurs a constant source of Essence with which to train. Grand balconies across multiple floors overlooked the wide but enclosed space, and pathways between buildings crisscrossed the air above. A hundred windows reflected back the cloud-covered sky. All were empty. All were silent.
His vision swam for a moment as he stared; he hesitated, then slowly relaxed his mental control, allowing his body to begin drawing Essence again from the nearest statue. He'd been consciously, periodically cutting himself off since leaving Ilin Illan—a somewhat risky proposition, perhaps, but it was more dangerous by far to remain ignorant of his limitations.
In the past month, he'd learned that he could comfortably survive for at least a few hours without Essence: even more when completely sedentary, but significantly less when training with kan. How long had this time been? An hour? He never pushed his experimentation too far—the moment that he started to feel tired or nauseous, he always stopped—but he tried to do it regularly and under varying conditions. The more he knew about his unusual condition, the better.
"No new visions last night, I take it?" he asked eventually as the tightness in his muscles began to ease.
"Nothing." Ishelle gave a languid stretch. "More terribly sad looks from Thameron later today, I fear."
"Wouldn't be an afternoon at Tol Shen without one or two of those," agreed Davian.
Elder Thameron—Tol Shen's appointed Scribe—had been one of the few people who had actually seemed excited by their arrival. But Ishelle's Foresight was weak at best; since leaving Ilin Illan she'd had only a few visions, and none had been of anything particularly important.
Combined with Davian's ability still being blocked after Deilannis—a problem Ishelle had been unable to detect, let alone fix—they had been a source of constant disappointment to the Council. In the last few days, Thameron had taken to looking a mixture of frustrated and depressed whenever he spotted them.
Davian pushed himself to his feet, dismissing the thought. "Ready," he announced, stretching a little. "This time I think …"
- "Islington's magic-soaked setting has plenty of opportunities for conflict between competing powers even as earth-shattering evil approaches. Epic fantasy fans will enjoy this dense, suspenseful adventure. "—Publishers Weekly on An Echo of Things to Come
- "Reminiscent of Robert Jordan or Brandon Sanderson, Islington's writing is refreshingly fast paced, with a light and clever touch."—Booklist on An Echo of Things to Come
- "Fans of this genre will find themselves immersed in the magical battles, suspense and backstabbing political intrigue."—RT Book Reviews on An Echo of Things to Come
- "Islington's natural storytelling ability provides incessant plot twists and maintains a relentless pace...A promising page-turner from a poised newcomer who's well worth keeping tabs on."—Kirkus on The Shadow of What Was Lost
- "Islington has built a world with all the right genre elements: complex magic, terrifying threats out of legend, political intrigue, and a large cast of characters whose motivations are seldom clear. Fans of doorstop epic fantasy will not be disappointed."—Publishers Weekly on The Shadow of What Was Lost
- "Love The Wheel of Time? This is about to become your new favorite series."—B&N SF & Fantasy Blog on The Shadow of What Was Lost
- "Storytelling assurance rare for a debut . . . Fans of Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson will find much to admire."—Guardian on The Shadow of What Was Lost
- "The plot twists are unexpected, the world building is fascinating, and the fledgling love story is a charmer.... This sweeping and compelling epic is ripe for a sequel."—Booklist on The Shadow of What Was Lost
- "The Shadow of What was Lost is an engrossing fantasy debut.... The twisting and complex storylines, fascinating characters and inventive magic make for a fun read packed with plenty of mystery."—Book Reporter
- On Sale
- Aug 22, 2017
- Page Count
- 752 pages