The Stealthmaster’s Shadow is finally here!
Yep, it’s release day and I’m excited to share my review with you! 😀
It’s been ten confounded years since the war ended.
Verus, a retired soldier, determines to enforce the peace the victory ought to have brought. His wanderings bring him to the city of Nerva, a sprawling riverside chaos no other Stealthmaster will touch.
Commandeering the task of a former comrade, Verus presents himself to the governor and promises to search out hidden Subverters. The true reason for his actions he keeps to himself. After all, the tyrannical governor will hardly approve of lending aid to those pitted against him, but the Subverters need information. Maybe even weapons.
The wishes of the Subverters themselves are immaterial. They weren’t there during the war. They didn’t see the horrors Tauscher spread.
So has the new ambassador from Zahavia who strides through the great doors of the feasting hall, bringing Verus face to face with nightmares from his past.
As the simple mission dissolves into confusion, Verus struggles to help those he’s plunged into danger, from a serving lad to the infuriating woman he’s taken to calling “Princess.” Fleeing will only make the enemy stronger. But staying…
Staying could doom them all.
Title: The Stealthmaster’s Shadow
Author: Hope Ann
- Date read: May 27, 2018
- Rating: 5 stars
- Genre: Fantasy / Retelling / Christian Fantasy / Twelve Dancing Princesses / Novella
- Age: New Adult
- Year pub: 2018
- Pages: 129 (Kindle)
- Series: Legends of Light, #4
- Fave character: Verus
- Source: The author
- Notes: I received a free e-ARC of this book from the author (thanks!) and these opinions are entirely my own.
Well, that was great!
Meet Verus. Verus is without a doubt my favorite thing about this novella. 😀 He is SO epic! A retired soldier (at… like… in his twenties; what can we say—the war’s over), he’s a Stealthmaster (something which is never fully explained but we basically get the idea) and totally lives up to such a name. He’s constantly sneaking around, lurking in shadows and picking locks and jumping off balconies and being snarky to everybody, and… he’s just epic and so, so much fun! I don’t know how he manages to be kind of grumpy AND all dramatic and sassy, but he is. Everyone’s kind of afraid of Stealthmasters with their mysterious ways (and his awesome cloak! Want.) but Verus at least has a heart of gold, and I loved reading about him, even as he wrestles with his past and learns through mistakes. Anyway, he’s my favorite and so much fun to read. 😀 WHAT a character. ❤
Essentially, reading this is worth it just for Verus. 😉 But it’s an intriguing tale, too, AND (wait for it) it’s a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses! Kinda. There aren’t twelve, and it’s not so much a retelling as an “inspired by,” but the hints and nods to the original were so fun and some were brilliant. It was like picking up clues! And they all made total sense, too. I loved how it was totally different and yet you could recognize bits and pieces of the fairytale, which also mixed well with the Christian allegory parts, largely involved with parallels of the early persecuted Church.
I’m pretty sure there’s a law somewhere that says all Twelve Dancing Princesses retellings must be dark. XD There wasn’t a bunch of scary magic or anything for this one, but some of it was kinda brutal… so be aware of that, if that sort of thing bothers you. Despite the snark and humor, a lot of it’s very intense and deals with some tough themes. It was also interesting how some of the story was told in flashbacks about Verus in the war.
The story is set about a decade after the other three Legends of Light novellas. I think one could read this one and enjoy it without having read those, but I did enjoy it extra since I had. There was a cameo appearance from one of my favorites! 😀 (Hi, Evrard! *waves enthusiastically*) So that was awesome. Most of the characters (like the “princess” character, who’s pretty stealthy in her own right, and a cute little boy, etc.) are new, and even if you haven’t read the first three, this one pretty much stands alone. 🙂
A few times I felt like things could have been explained better than they were and I kind of tripped up and didn’t have a clue what was going on (possibly due to the short length; it is a novella, after all), but I figured things out eventually and I just wish it could have been longer! I’d love to explore this neat palace setting and hang out with Verus and Adreana longer, but I was just relieved things turned out better than it looked like it would for a bit. XD Whew! Quite intense and exciting! With all kinds of mysteries and sneaking about.
Overall, aside from a couple minor things, it’s a fantastic read. And really, with a snarky hero who is incredibly epic (like, how often are people TRULY epic, I ask you?), a lot of witty dialog (I love funny things, okay?), and a Twelve Dancing Princesses theme (my favorite!), what is not to love? You’re definitely going to want to check this one out—I know I’m glad I did! 🙂 (But Verus though. This guy!) A great tale! ^_^
Some Favorite Quotes
Verus flung himself over the banister in one easy motion and landed in a crouch in the gloom of the stairs. The shadows flickered rapid greetings, but no soldier appeared to challenge him.
“If you can’t read the meaning of a locked door—”
“It wasn’t locked,” Verus said. “There was merely an obstruction to opening it. A fault I fixed. Without charge, I might add.”
“He does have a chimney.” Her eyes twinkled. “Of course, it might smudge your cloak—the latest fashion from Zahavia, I believe? I’d have mentioned it before now, but—”
“Oh, shut up.” Verus stalked back onto the balcony. “Which way?”
“Left. The balcony there.” Adreana pointed to a wide slab of rock several dozen paces away. “I assume you can do it?”
Verus tucked his cloak into his belt. “I hope that’s not an honest question.”
She smirked. “I’ll be waiting.” She paused at the door. “And thanks.”
Verus smiled faintly, then shook his head and forced his face back into grim lines. Botheration take the girl and all the rest. They were more trouble than they were worth. Most people were, in the end.
“Did you have to kill the armor?”
“Do you have to make such a racket?” Verus shut the door hastily and glanced to where the helmet hung askew on the frame. “Besides, it’s just a concussion.” He strode over and spun it back in place. “See? He’s looking better already.”
“Still a nasty dent.” Adreana turned up the lamps. “How hard did you hit the poor thing?”
“You /did/ have one in place in case the rebellion of yours failed?”
“Why would I ever,” Verus spluttered. “That is what you are counting on?”
“Well, do you have one or don’t you?”
Verus scowled, then hesitated. “Of course I have an escape plan.” Of a sort.
“Let’s find your lady.”
“We can probably slip around by—she’s not my lady.” Verus cut himself off.
Verus scowled. “I can maim you and leave you behind.”
About the author of the Legends of Light Series
Hope Ann uses chocolate to bribe a wide ring of spies, from the realm leapers of Aslaria to the double agents of Elkbend, for their stories. Based in Indiana, she is the self-published author of the Legends of Light series, personal writing coach, and the Communications Coordinator for Story Embers. You can find out more about her at authorhopeann.com
Check out my review for the previous novellas in the Legends of Light series, collected in the single volume Burning Rose: