Ellenessia's Curse Book 1: The Shadow Seer (ebook and print) by Fran Jacobs (Fantasy)

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Raonaid Luckwell (http://idonotwanttowaitiwantthebooknow.wordpress.com/2009/12/13/review-the-shadow-seer-by-fran-jacobs/)
Feb 15, 2013
he story sets out a little slow, but that is only because the author had to introduce the cast of characters important to the actual story and the world. Side characters play an important role in aiding and helping the main character (Candale) deal and cope with the various events thrust upon his young shoulders.

Of course, it was quite easy to dislike some of the characters (shall I mention at least one name here? Davyn; the male made me want to throttle him! Hehe, some may mention another name but he really grated on my nerves more), and to simply adore others (hey I can not be the only one that cheered on Trelleny!). Though I do wonder (in a good way ) about the relationship between Candale and his bard. There is a possible hint of more.

Once we move past Candale’s illness and the information of the Shadow Seer comes into play, the plot and story starts to pick up and moves quickly. The ending I completely did not see coming for the author left me with unanswered questions, making me curious about what shall transpire in the second book, and yes, I would be definitely be interested in reading the second book. I’m looking forward to seeing what becomes of Candale, his friends, and the sort of mystery at the end, not to mention the other key players yet to be introduced.

The Shadow Seer is a must read for fantasy lovers.
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Yellow30 Sci-Fi A Review of the Small Press Galaxy (http://yellow30scifi.wordpress.com/2009/06/22/the-shadow-seer/)
Feb 15, 2013
Prince Candale is ill. He has been deathly ill for some time and the fear is that he will soon die. Candale himself is barely able to comprehend anything around him. Those who come to see him are whispered phantoms of people he thinks he knows. Can anyone save him? Sorron, King of Carnia, and Candale’s grandfather, knows that there is only one person who can save his grandson from death’s grim reaper. But Sorron’s also knows that by doing so, other things may come to light that have long since been forgotten. Other things, deadly things. There is a shadow over the past that is now reaching into the present that whispers of dark visions and fallen kingdoms. Prophets have foretold the coming of the Shadow Seer but their warnings have been mostly ignored and now only a small collection of scholars know the portents of these dark oracle. Yet Sorron must do what he must do or Candale will die. So, the witch Mayrila is brought to the castle to save the young prince and in doing so the fulfilment of long forgotten prophecies ignite into a blaze that will quickly spread through the whole kingdom. The Shadow Seer has awakened! Beware!!!

Fran Jacobs has written a spell-binding fantasy that plunges the reader into a world of dark secrets and strange visions. Jacobs’ writing style is very fluid and gripping. Her characters are both well defined and meaningful. Jacobs draws the reader into Candale’s world with a surgeon’s skill at description and world building. Get this e-book, download it, print it out and settle in for a great read. It’ll be worth every effort.—Steven Fivecats, Editor
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Jennifer St. Clair, author (http://www.writers-exchange.com/Jennifer-St-Clair.html)
Feb 15, 2013
A couple of weeks ago, I received a publication announcement in my inbox for a fantasy novel called Ellenessia's Curse Book 1: The Shadow Seer by Fran Jacobs. I read over the blurb, saw the usual fantasy elements (namely, a seer, a witch, a prince, companions, etc., etc.) and promptly deleted the email because I don't usually read that kind of fantasy anymore.

Fast-forward two weeks later and I'm browsing through Fictionwise, looking for something to read. I came across the same book, but this time, I read the first chapter in which the main character, Prince Candale (Dale to his friends) is dying, seriously wasting away, and I thought, wait a second, how can he die if he's the main character?

And the first chapter was intriguing enough for me to buy the book, so I did (from the publisher, not Fictionwise, because authors get more royalties if you buy directly from the publisher, at least with small publishers) and I read the rest of it over the next two days, practically glued to my computer screen.

This is, as far as I can tell, Fran Jacobs' first published novel, and it reads like a first novel. It suffers a bit from pacing problems in places, but the author's real strength are her characters. Sure, the setting might be fairly standard fantasy, but the characters are what shine here, even if they are positioned into standard fantasy roles.

The entire book is in Dale's POV, which is both interesting and limited--interesting because we, as the reader, only sees the events in the story through Dale;s eyes. And since Dale is a rather sheltered and sometimes spoiled teenager, it's definitely amusing at times. Limited, too, because we really don't have much of a backstory, and Dale is quite the normal self-absorbed teen, at least in the beginning. And since he's been ill for much of his life, he's also a bit naive. (This is not a bad thing...
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On a Pale Star (http://onapalestar.wordpress.com/2011/01/17/review-the-shadow-seer-by-fran-jacobs/)
Feb 15, 2013
The Shadow Seer is the first book in Fran Jacob’s Ellenessia’s Curse series, a planned trilogy. It opens with the protagonist, Candale, deathly ill despite the best efforts of the healers being brought into the castle by his grandfather, King Sorron, or his father, the crown prince.

Desperate to save Candale’s life, his family turns to a woman his father despises, a witch named Mayrila. She does more than save his life, however, cluing him into secrets about his family and his potential future. Mayrila’s revelations send Candale on a journey of discovery. Is he truly this prophet, this seer foretold in her family’s history, the Shadow Seer?

Candale is a likeable character, though for a seventeen year-old boy he’s almost unbelievably naive and innocent. Jacobs addresses these traits of Candale’s through his interaction with his friends and companions, which makes that innocence and naivete a bit easier to swallow. Thankfully, Candale is nicely balanced out by his bodyguard, Trellany, and best friend Teveriel. The two are a bit older and have much more life experience, so they provide the oftentimes willful Candale with much needed grounding.

The Shadow Seer is told in first person, so we know only as much as Candale does. Sometimes this means, as a reader with a bit life experience than he has, I can fill in the blanks of what he notices but doesn’t know how to interpret, and sometimes it means being in the dark just as much as he is–which, can be used as a good plot device. I assume as the story continues in the second and third installments that what Candale is missing because of innocence and naivete is going to come back and bite him in the butt. With a limited, sometimes unreliable, narrator there’s some tension throughout the story between what Candale knows and what I the reader noticed. I’m curious to see how the plots Candale knows about coalesce with the bits and pieces he’s missing.

The novel ends on a heck of a cliffhanger, so I can’t help but hope that the second book is coming soonish. I really want to see the fall out of The Shadow Seer’s last several pages. Over all, I found The Shadow Seer to be a good fantasy; the magical, European-esque medieval setting will be familiar to fantasy readers, with the modern equality of genders I’m coming to expect in fantasies written in the last twenty years or so....
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Jeff Chapman (http://jeffchapmanwriter.blogspot.com.au/2011/11/considering-shadow-seer.html)
Feb 15, 2013
Considering The Shadow Seer

Fran Jacob's The Shadow Seer (see note below) is a different breed of fantasy. The protagonist is a young prince named Candale who is second in line to the throne of Carnia behind his father Gerian and grandfather Sorron. Candale is on the cusp of manhood and chaffing under the control his father exerts. He is physically attractive though very inexperienced with girls, enjoys the benefits of a loving family and life at the top of the social order, has a younger sister, and generally wishes the best for everyone. In short, Candale is a nice guy, someone with whom everyone would like to be friends. Unfortunately, Candale is not what most would consider king material. He is barely adequate with a sword despite intensive training, tends to go off on his own without considering the consequences to himself and others, and suffers from seizures, probably some form of epilepsy, which give him the appearance of physical weakness. Unlike most fantasy heroes who are either able to hold their own or singlehandedly defeat legions in combat, Candale requires protection from body guards or loyal friends and without such assistance, he would be dead.

The story opens with Candale near death. He has been wasting away from some sort of illness, growing increasingly weak. All the healers have failed to reverse Candale's demise. Only the intervention of Mayrila, a powerful witch whom Candale's father despises, restores Candale to health. Mayrila contends that Candale was poisoned. Her claims are initially dismissed. Why would anyone want to kill Candale? Then Candale learns that Mayrila is his biological mother and that she and others believe him to be the long-prophesied Shadow Seer, who will have visions of a dark future when all the kingdoms will collapse. Mayrila has evidence to prove her claims but Sorron and Gerian are not convinced and banish Mayrila from the castle, requiring her to swear on a truth stone that she will not spread rumors about Candale. Candale, meanwhile, has some odd dreams and begins to reinterpret his life in light of Mayrila's claims. Another attempt is made on Candale's life. Only the intervention of Trellany, who becomes Candale's bodyguard, saves him. An organization dedicated to killing the Shadow Seer in the hope of preventing his prophecies from being fulfilled believes Candale is the Shadow Seer.

Candale slowly comes to believe he is the Shadow Seer despite everyone close to him telling him that he is not. He tries to find out as much as he can about the Seer but the castle library yields little. The book he needs to see, The Rose Prophecies, is housed at White Oaks, a school for mages, which lied many days distant and winter, when travel will be impossible, is approaching. Sorron agrees to ask that the book be brought to the castle in the spring so that Candale can put his concerns to rest once and for all, but Candale doesn't want to wait. He and his friend Teveriel--a bard--hatch a plan to escape the castle and travel to White Oaks before winter. They make their escape and are later joined by Trellany who scolds Candale for not trusting her loyalty to him as his bodyguard. After an arduous journey, they reach White Oaks, where Candale spends the winter and learns without a doubt that he is the Shadow Seer. Now Candale faces an even greater set of challenges. How to deal with the horrible visions of death and destruction that the Seer experiences. How to deal with the future madness that has been predicted for the Seer. How to deal with supernatural beings in the form of shadows that threaten him and everyone close to him. And how to deal with the demon Ellenessia, who has some connection to the Shadow Seer. On top of all that, Candale is supposed to be preparing to someday be King.

Jacob's pacing for The Shadow Seer is patient. If you are looking for a fast read with lots of harrowing fight scenes, The Shadow Seer is not for you. The first part of the story concentrates on life at court while the second half focuses on Candale's experiences at White Oaks. Foremost in the narrative is the drama of family and interpersonal relationships. Although there's nothing sexually explicit in The Shadow Seer, Jacobs does address Candale's thoughts on his own and others sexuality. It rounds out his character. There are a few hints that Teveriel might fancy a homosexual relationship with Candale although Candale does not appear to share his friend's interest. It's not a major part of the plot, but if this sort of theme bothers you, consider yourself warned. Candale does much talking and soul searching regarding his destiny. Jacobs takes her time to provide compelling portraits of the major characters. The Shadow Seer is the type of book George Eliot would have written if she had chosen fantasy instead of history. Both Candale and the student mages at White Oaks face a future riddled with difficulties through no fault of their own. Candale becomes the Shadow Seer when Mayrila gives birth to him and the young mages are born with their abilities. Candale must confront an uncertain future. While the mages are safe within the bounds of Carnia, they face prejudice and possible execution at the hands of peoples in neighboring lands....
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Feb 15, 2013
"The Shadow Seer" is the first volume in what looks likely to be a six-book series by Swansea based fantasy writer Fran Jacobs. The book has had a long gestation, but was finally published by Writers Exchange in Summer 2011, and has been worth the wait.

Candale, Prince of Carnia, is a sickly boy, plagued by fits. Far from being a hero, when the reader first meets him he is on his deathbed, and is only saved by the magical intervention of the witch, Mayrila. But she has revived him for her own purposes, believing that he is the Shadow Seer, the long-heralded prophet for a demon, who will foresee the end of the world.

This twisting of long-established tropes puts a refreshing spin on the genre, and Candale is an endearing character, likeable and convincingly human. The book is a little thin on action beyond a few set-pieces, but it’s by no means slow. Jacobs takes plenty of time with her characters, fleshing out the complex relationships between Candale, his family, and his friends, but she’s not hesitant to provide chills when needed.

This is an assured, confident debut, and I hope the ongoing story lives up to the promise of the first volume.
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Story Wings (http://www.storywings.com/2011/06/book-review-the-shadow-seer-by-fran-jacobs/)
Feb 15, 2013
My Thoughts:

The Shadow Seer was an extremely interesting read, but it was a little slow in its movement.

Candale is a prince with a secret; he is having prophecies, hearing voices, and seeing people that aren’t there. The Shadow Seer starts with Candale being gravely ill and close to death. All we hear are snippets of conversation between his relatives, arguments between his father and grandfather about how to best help him.

His grandfather sends for a woman named Mayrila, a conniving, gold-digging witch, who seems to be the only person who can help him. Mayrila saves Candale, but she also changes his life forever, revealing herself as his birth mother and him as the Shadow Seer, a dark prophet whose visions will only ever be of death and destruction.

Candale is an interesting character, if a little naive. He is intelligent and easily relatable being a quiet, odd child who fits in well enough at court, but is always dreaming and looking for something more. Candale did get a little infuriating at times when he went off by himself without thinking things through only to nearly get killed by his enemies. At times I wanted to shake him, but mostly I felt empathetic and a little sad about his situation.

The Shadow Seer was well written and completely engaging because it didn’t seem like you were racing to the finish line. Each new event in the timeline was well paced and flowed seamlessly into the plot.

The only problem with The Shadow Seer was that we never really get answers to our questions, the world of Carnia that Jacobs created was superb, but there was so much groundwork to lay that we only got to see snippets about the myths behind the shadow seer and those myths were relentlessly repeated.

The Shadow Seer was an excellently written story with an engaging main character who kept me entertained and continuously coming back for more. The mystery behind who Ellenessia is and how she is going to affect Candale in the long run has me itching to get my hands on the second book in this promising fantasy series.
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SJHIGBEE at https://sjhigbee.wordpress.com/2013/09/04/review-of-the-shadow-seer-book-1-of-ellenessias-curse-by-fran-jacobs/
Sep 4, 2013

I picked this book up from Bristolcon last year after chatting to the author, who is an intriguing and strong personality. Question is - would I enjoy the book as much as I enjoyed our discussion?

For generations prophets have foreseen the birth of the Shadow Seer, the oracle of dark visions and fallen kingdoms. But by the time of Sorron, King of Carnia, their warnings have mostly been forgotten and his name is known only to a handful of scholars.

When disaster threatens the royal family, the Seer's legends are brought to light once again by a witch named Mayrila. She believes that Candale is the fulfilment of those long forgotten prophecies. She believes that he is the Shadow Seer...

I've tweaked the back cover blurb slightly, as there is a spoiler there - and it was the unusual way the book started that snagged my attention and drew me right in. Jacobs is an experienced and skilful writer. I found the character of Candale immediately believable - it was a pleasant change to find a teenage boy actually behaving like a teenager, rather than a particularly self-assured twenty-something. He is riven by self-doubt, occasionally makes some silly decisions and spends a great deal of time obsessing about himself. Typical teenage behaviour, in other words.

However, Jacobs also manages to make him sufficiently sympathetic, so that I didn't toss the book in disgust, as he also has a highly developed sense of responsibility and tries hard to live up to his grandfather's high expectations. It was also refreshing to find a book about this age group that isn't completely fixated on his relationship with the opposite sex. Because Candale has far more pressing problems...

The claustrophobic atmosphere of court life is well depicted, without Jacobs giving us pages of description about balls and council meetings. I liked the sense that Candale is never completely sure exactly who he can trust or not - a constant consideration for someone in his position. This isn't a story with lots of swashbuckling action, rather a slow-burn, tension-tightening tale as Candale very quickly finds that he is flailing around way out of his comfort zone, and very reliant on a select circle of close friends and companions.

A lot of epic fantasy rapidly ramps the action up, so that the impact on the main protagonists sometimes gets lost in amongst the plethora of sub-plots, constant scene changes and large cast of characters. It was a real pleasure to read a classic Fantasy tale set in a medieval world that focused completely on a single protagonist right at the heart of the problem. Especially when in the hands of such a capable writer.

Inevitably, the book leaves our slightly clueless hero on the edge of a major dangling plotpoint - do I want to get hold of the next book and discover exactly is going to happen next? For sure - Candale and his problems have spun their spell over me... Track down this book and see if you, too, become ensnared in Jacobs' engrossing fantasy.
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