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Literature / The Shadow Of What Was Lost

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It has been twenty years since the dictatorial Augurs were overthrown from their position of power, and the Gifted were forced to submit to the Four Tenets, rendering them obedient and downtrodden. Davian, a young student at a Gifted academy, is soon to face his trials, and his failure means a fate almost worse than death.However, Davian is unaware that he wields the power of the Augurs, and sets off on a quest to learn more about his heritage and save the world from an ancient enemy, thought to be long-defeated. Along the way, he must learn to control his power and come to understand his role in shaping the events of the future.


The Shadow of What Was Lost is the debut novel of author James Islington, and the first in the Licanius Trilogy.

The Shadow of What Was Lost contains examples of:

  • Action Girl: Dezia. Asha even fights towards the end.
  • A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read: Augurs can read minds, but this is a dangerous process; they take on memories that aren't theirs and can even die during the process if they get too attached.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Essence.
  • Amnesiac Hero: Caeden.
  • The Atoner: Caeden, even if he doesn't know for sure that he's guilty.
  • Bad Future: Implied in Asha's vision of Davian, but not confirmed.
  • Beauty, Brains and Brawn: Davian is The Smart Guy, Wirr is the most skilled at using essence and Asha, while no less competent than the other two, is the beautiful love interest.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Both Asha and the true Shadraehin are Shadows, but remain beautiful despite their facial markings.
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  • Beware the Nice Ones: Wirr is good-natured and carefree, but also an immensely powerful Gifted.
  • Big Bad: Aarkein Davaed, supposedly. Not really.
  • Blessed with Suck: Gifted have immense power, but are bound by the tenets and therefore can only use it on other Gifted. They're also treated as low-class citizens.
  • Crazy Awesome: Elocien's preferred method of entering a room for an important meeting is to kick the door down.
  • Dark Action Girl: Breshada.
  • Every Scar Has a Story: And Taeris has plenty.
  • Fantastic Racism: Due to their previous positions as the Augur's enforcers, the Gifted are discriminated against by the general population. Meanwhile, everyone discriminates against Shadows.
  • Five-Man Band: Out of the main group of travelers...
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  • Future Badass: Implied in Asha's vision of Davian. He's a whole lot more muscular, at least.
  • Great Offscreen War: Three, in fact; The Unseen War, the Genesis War and the Eternity War.
  • Guys Smash, Girls Shoot: Dezia is the only character to use a bow.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: Averted. Out of all the main characters, only Caeden and Aelric are competent with swords. The others, including the main trio, use essence or other abilities.
  • Implausible Fencing Powers: Caeden might be a malnourished amnesiac, but put a sword in his hands and he becomes nigh-invincible.
  • King Incognito: Wirr.
  • Kryptonite Factor: The Blind soldiers have armour that drinks in essence.
  • Living Lie Detector: Davian's ability at the start of the story.
  • Modest Royalty: Wirr again.
  • Magically Binding Contract: The Four Tenets, a set of oaths imposed upon every Gifted by a powerful Vessel. Certain non-Gifted, known as Administrators, also bind themselves to the Tenets. Near the end of the book, Davian and Wirr work together to modify them.
    • The First Tenet forbids the Gifted from using Essence to harm non-Gifted. The amended version permits the use of Essence for self-defense or defense of Andarra.
    • The Second Tenet forbids the Gifted from using Essence to deceive, intimidate, or otherwise work to the detriment of non-Gifted. The amended version likewise permits the use of Essence in self-defense or defense of Andarra.
    • The Third Tenet forbids either Gifted or Administrators from harming each other in any fashion. This Tenet is left unaltered.
    • The Fourt Tenet requires the Gifted to obey any order given by an Administrator. Wirr and Davian simply abolish this Tenet.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Echoes. They inhabit corpses and act like the person they used to be, right up until they get an opening to murder you. Even if they fail, they just go right back to acting like the dead person. This means you essentially have to kill something that is, at that moment, non-aggressive and may just be begging for its life.
    • Notably, despite the First Tenet forbidding the use of Essence against non-Gifted, the Gifted are still able to use Essence against Echoes. Whatever they are, it apparently doesn't count as "alive" or "human".
  • Noble Demon: Aarkein Davead is described as doing both good and terrible things, but is mostly remembered for the latter.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: A lot of the Administrators, but Ionis definitely stands out.
  • Politically Active Princess: Karaliene is very much this.
  • Really Royalty Reveal: Wirr once again.
  • Rebellious Princess: Karaliene goes wherever she likes, and hangs out with whomever she chooses, even if such activities aren't fit for a princess.
  • The Reveal: Caeden is actually Aarkein Davaed.
  • Royalty Super Power: Only certain members of the royal family are given the authority to change the Tenets.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Every member of royalty in the book, besides the king.
  • Scary Impractical Armor: Zig-zagged with the Blind. Their armour would be impractical for anyone else, as it lacks eye-holes. It doesn't seem to bother them, however.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: What the Darecians tried to do, with unknown results.
  • Squick: Whenever there's a massacre. And there are a few.
  • Sword of Plot Advancement: Licanius is shaping up to be this.
  • Sword Sparks: During Aelric's bout in the Song of Swords.
  • This Is Your Brain on Evil: Caeden is set to be quite different after discovering his true identity. Defied. The second book makes it very clear that caeden has always been the fundamentally same person and deeply regretted his atrocitys even as he justified them to himself.
  • ¡Three Amigos!: Davian, Wirr and Asha.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Davian, after learning to use kan.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: The main trio again, though without any sort of love triangle.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Asha's plan to expose Tenvar.
  • Warrior Prince: Still Wirr, though he fights with essence rather than traditional weaponry.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: The Impossible Tasks of Alarais Shar illustrates the consequences of immortality.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Malshash's personal opinion on trying to change past events.

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