Outstretched Shadows by M. Lackey and J. Mallory

It took a while to get into the story, but once I did, Outstretched Shadows had me glued my chair.

Kellen Tavadon, son of the Arch-Mage Lycaelon, thought he knew the way the world worked. His father, leading the wise and benevolent Council of Mages, protected and guided the citizens of the Golden City of the Bells. Young Mages in training-all men, for women were unfit to practice magic-memorized the intricate details of High Magic and aspired to seats on the council.

Then he found the forbidden Books of Wild Magic-or did they find him? Their Magic felt like a living thing, guided by the hearts and minds of those who practiced it and benefited from it.
Questioning everything he has known, Kellen discovers too many of the City’s dark secrets. Banished, with the Outlaw Hunt on his heels, Kellen invokes Wild Magic-and finds himself running for his life with a unicorn at his side.

Rescued by a unicorn, healed by a female Wild Mage who knows more about Kellen than anyone outside the City should, meeting Elven royalty and Elven warriors, and plunged into a world full of magical beings-Kellen both revels in and fears his new freedom.

The one thing all the Mages of the City agreed on was that practicing Wild Magic corrupted a Mage. Turned him into a Demon. Would that be Kellen’s fate?

Deep in Obsidian Mountain, the Demons are waiting. Since their defeat in the last great War, they’ve been biding their time, sowing the seeds of distrust and discontent between their human and Elven enemies. Very soon now, when the Demons rise to make war, there will be no alliance between High and Wild Magic to stand against them. And then all the world will belong to the Endarkened.

The plot was great. It did drag a little at the beginning, but I think that the ending more than made up for it.The first half of Outstretched Shadows had Kellen finding out the truth about all of the lies that his father, Arch-mage of the city of Armethalieh, had been telling him. I really got a sense of the betrayal he felt over discovering those lies, and the apprehensive excitement and wonder as he discovered the truth.  Once Kellen got out of the city it got even better. There were overwhelming odds against Kellen and his companions in putting a stop to the demons plan to pit the humans and elves against one another. Despite those odds they still managed to put up a great fight. It also had Kellen really coming into his own. Actually cutting out a niche for himself, rather than trying to just copy what his sister had become.

The growth of the characters throughout the book made me love them all the more. Even the antagonist was able to catch my attention. By the end, I had a real investment in the well-being of all of the characters. Especially Kellen, Idalia, and Shalkan. I wanted to see them succeed and overcome the obstacles that were put in their way. The main character Kellen was at times dim witted, but he more than made up for that with his bravery and willingness to help those in need. Idalia was awesome. Despite being told by male mages that woman are too emotional to do magick, she became a strong and independent mage, one in which all sorts of creatures come to for her healing abilities. My favorite though was probably Shalken. Not only because he’s a talking unicorn, but because he had a great personality.

Outstretched Shadows has me hooked.  It may have started off slow, but I believe that any lover of fantasy would be thrilled with this. The characters are strong, the plot fantastic, and the magical creatures numerous. The ending left on a great cliff hanger, and I can’t wait to find out what happens in the next book of the series.

Read Order:
Outstretched Shadows
To Light a Candle
When Darkness Falls

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