In the Shadow of the Palace by Eliza Andrews is the story of Cara. Born the daughter of a sexworker at The Serpent’s Tongue, Cara is desperate not to suffer the same fate as her mother. But with few choices and time running out she doesn’t know what to do. With some fateful intervention from, Lanna, a really good friend at The Serpent’s Tongue and a regular customer of her mother’s, a Wise Man from the palace, Cara is offered an opportunity for escape.
The Wise Man offers Cara a fresh start as a servant at the palace and she readily takes it up.
At the palace Cara makes a friend with the stable master’s daughter, despite warnings that she is “unnatural”. And slowly a sweet romance develops between them.
Little do they know that the Wise Man’s simple act of kindness was just the beginning. When a crisis strikes Cara is thrust into a role that will forever shape the destiny of the entire kingdom.
This is the first book in the fantasy series, A Tide of Shadows, that takes place a few hundred years before the Dorsa series. It stands alone and does not need the context of the Dorsa series.
Writing and Story
Andrews is an incredible writer. The use of language, the character depth and the overall plot with a number of moving pieces is well worth the investment in time.
This book is over 800 pages in length. It’s a hefty read, and yet I never felt like it was boring or covered information more than once.
There is a wonderful cast of characters and some great rep in this book. Fin, the stable master’s daughter is not a traditionally acceptable girl and is labelled as strange. She also has a deformed leg. Then we have my favourite character, Lanna, a trans woman who helps Cara a number of times. Lana is a beautiful and complex person and I hope we see more of her in upcoming books.
But it’s not just these two characters, this story is filled with emotionally nuanced people, which I love as a reader. The world isn’t black and white and when an author manages to reflect that then I am a happy human.
For those who like romance to drive the main plot, this is not your book. But if you enjoy a deep and fulfilling fantasy setting with a hint of romance then this is great.
And for those who want a single book to contain the full story then this is the beginning of a series and you will need to read them all to get the full benefit.
If you want an epic new series to get stuck into then look no further. I love the way Andrews writes and how she constructs the story. Every moment feels important and it all builds into a beautiful culmination of moving pieces.
I usually don’t enjoy series books because of the amount of commitment it takes. But for Andrews, I will make an exception. Bring on the massive tomes because I love every word.
Excerpt from In the Shadow of the Palace by Eliza Andrews
The syllable came from far away.
“Oi, faerie girl. Wake up.”
There was a hand on Cara’s shoulder, shaking her roughly. But her eyelids were glued shut, crusted with sleep and dried tears. She peeled them open and blinked against the sunlight filtering in from somewhere.
A face hovered above hers, large, concerned, and too close.
A noise came from Cara’s throat. She supposed she had intended a phrase of some sort, like What time is it? or Who are you?, but instead the sound that came out was halfway between a grunt and an annoyed whine.
“You can’t be up here,” said the face. “If my da finds you, he’ll tan my hide. Maybe yours, too. Lucky for you, I wake up earlier than he does.”
Cara sat up, blinking against the sunlight. She rubbed her eyes as they adjusted to the sudden brightness. The boy who had woken her came into focus.
He scooted back a few feet, giving Cara space while she pulled bits of hay from her hair. Her bun had come apart in her sleep, and half of her hair was loose, hanging like a half-drawn curtain against her cheek.
“How’d you get up here, anyway?” asked the boy. “No, better question: Why are you up here?”
He squatted across from her, forearms on his knees, examining Cara just as Cara examined him.
But wait. He wasn’t a boy at all. He was a—she was a girl.
Cara had mistaken her for male because of the hairstyle—it was pulled back into a short ponytail, the underneath side shaved, as was the fashion for many of the palace’s guards and younger male servants. She was dressed like a boy, too, with boots and trousers instead of slippers and a dress, along with a loose vest worn over a tunic belted at the waist.
Cara wasn’t sure if she’d ever seen a girl in trousers in her life.
Her mind flashed to her first day at the palace, scrubbing floors while Walda talked incessantly. Walda had told her the stable master’s daughter was peculiar, and warned Cara to stay far away.
Could this be her? It was certainly peculiar for a girl to dress and arrange her hair this way.
“Do you speak?” asked the girl, raising an eyebrow.
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Series: Tide of Shadows
In the Shadow of the Palace
Bits and Bobs
ISBN number: 979-8862766028
Publisher: Indie Author
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