Adrian Cole – The Sword Of Shadows

With a trilogy you know the third book is the end of the story, but when the books are less than 200 pages, the end comes quick. The Sword Of Shadows (2011) is the third volume of the Voidal Trilogy by Adrian Cole, an epic dark fantasy consisting of a series of connected short stories. The original stories date 25 to 35 years back. To complete the trilogy Cole wrote new stories with the main difference that they have a stronger connection as it was his aim to complete the story. Subsequently the effect is that with each volume the independent story element has become weaker. The stories of The Sword Of Shadows feel more like chapters although Cole still tries to give each chapter a beginning and end.

With its short length and short shorty arcs the plot is mainly filled with action. Little time is spent on reflection or character development. Still it is not absent. The different characters are quite distinct and original, which can be seen as a consequence of the strange and weird universe Cole has created. Normal is not a word that can be put on the creatures, beings and persons that inhabit his universe. There are few rules and Cole simply lets his imagination run free. Just this provides a great reading experience as Cole also uses a stylized easy readable prose to tell this tale of mysterious powers.

There is not much else to say about this novel except the ending. Throughout the series I kept guessing about the truth of the mysteries that spurred the stories and the main characters on. I came fairly close to the right answer, but Cole managed to surprise me in a magnificent way. As such he presented a great and original end for the story which was probably one of his earliest ideas for writing this tale. It puts all the earlier stories together and is an excellent explanation for the sequence of events. A good ending is not that easy to write. At a certain point you have read many variations and getting surprised rarely happens. What does work is making sure the reader can’t guess beforehand what the end will be. It does require that the unexpected ending works and satisfies, else it is still not a good ending. Either way, just the great conclusion is a great bonus to this story. Highly recommended.

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