Dark Shores delivers a wonderfully complex world fueled by political power struggles, seafaring traders, and a bevy of mysteries many are eager to uncover. We see the wonders of a world filled with hidden worlds and embodied gods living alongside a harsh, war driven society reminiscent of Ancient Rome. Beliefs clash, ambitions threaten to drown anyone different from the norm of the empire and through it all, we get to follow two protagonists who couldn’t be more different. It’s a masterful bit of worldbuilding that’s exciting to discover.
Dark Shores plays well with juxtaposition of opposites. With Celendor, you have everything wrong with modernized civilization. Their only goal is to control everything they discover, no matter the cost to the indigenous people and lands. They’re monsters from the beginning. With Maarin and the Dark Shores, you have a world filled with beautiful mysteries that are kept private and special in the hearts of their citizens. Life is about more than power and conquerors, focusing instead on a complex religion and a respect for the natural world.
By featuring a character from both regions, we get to see their alternate worldviews at play. Marcus was raised under the military system, pulled from his family at a young age and intent on nothing but bloodshed and dominance over his enemies. Teriana was raised at sea amidst the beliefs of her people. She has experience the wonders of the world and respects them deeply. She’s also defined by her powerful personality and her refusal to give up when the going gets tough. There are monsters aplenty in the book and she does her best to stand strong, even when it becomes impossible to resist.
Overall, Dark Shores is an extremely entertaining journey across a well-developed world. We get to see the growth of two strong characters amidst a dark empire and a villain who lives up to every expectation of an evil politician. This is sure to be a compelling series for years to come.
NOTE: I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.
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