In the Shadow of Lighting, Book One of The Glass Immortals

Book Reviews / Saturday, July 2nd, 2022

By: Brian McClellan
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Publisher: TOR Books

Rating: 4 out of 5.

In the Shadow of Lightening, the first book in Brian McClellan’s The Glass Immortals Series, is the start of a gripping epic fantasy. This is the first book I have read by Mr. McClellan and I was thoroughly impressed. The world building and character development are superb. The magic system in this book is one of the most unique and original that I have read in fantasy. It is based on the use of glass, called Godglass, where glass is forged to do different things for the wearer. This was one aspect of the book I genuinely enjoyed because of how imaginative it was. The character development was excellent. I like diversity in characters in terms of their “moral compass”, where some are good and want to do right, some are selfish, some are outright bad, and some are morally gray. It’s the last ones I often find the most fascinating since the reader isn’t quite sure what their motivation is and what they will do. In the Shadow of Lighting has all of these incredible components, all wrapped up in a compelling story of murder, political intrigue, and a mysterious threat to the Ossan Empire.

When I read the magic system that was based on this use of Godglass, I was thoroughly intrigued.  The different types of glass that are made was very clever. For example, shackleglass can compel the wearer to tell the truth, milkglass helps with pain, witglass enhances mind sharpness, and there are many more. Many characters wear them at different times, in the form of earrings, when the situation arises. The strongest are the Glass Dancers. They are dangerous as they can control any type of glass, not just Godglass, and use it as a weapon. It was so great.

The main protagonists are Demir Grappo, Thessa Foleer, Kizzie Vorcien, and Idrian Sepulki.  The main secondary characters, Baby Montego, Capric Vorcein, and Breneen, all complement the main ones, and each have various motivations. There were so many twists and turns, one could never predict what the characters will do. This is minor, but one of the character traits I liked was that Demir was fairly short, and Thessa was taller than him by about 1 or 2 inches. It was a nice twist not to have the main male protagonist as the big, tall man who fills up the room when he walks in.

The pacing and prose were excellent as well. I was drawn in right from the prologue to the end of the epilogue. It was fast paced and never a dull moment. There was room for action scenes and character development. They all moved the story forward and I was totally engaged in the story. Mr. McClellan was able to juggle quite a few storylines and incorporate all of them together effortlessly. The narrative is told in the third person of Demir, Thessa, Kizzie, and Idrian. It is never confusing and I could never anticipate what was going to happen. It always left me guessing as to what would come next.

Overall Thoughts

My first book of Brian McClellan’s, In the Shadow of Lightening, was a thoroughly enjoyable and engrossing fantasy. With the use of different types of forged glass, he created a unique and imaginative magic system. Different types of glass, typically in the form of an earring, is used by the wearer to enhance certain abilities, or for healing and reduce pain. The character development was excellent, each character having their own complete story arc. There was an array of character traits, ranging from good, to outright bad, and to morally gray. The third person narrative from the perspective of the main protagonists allowed us to keep track of the various storylines in the book. In the Shadow of Lightening was a rollercoaster ride from the start, and drew me in from the first page. It never let up with a story of murder, political intrigue, war, and a mysterious threat to the empire. The storylines all came together seamlessly in a cliffhanger of an ending. I highly recommend In the Shadow of Lightening and look forward to the next book in the series.

Summary (from NetGalley)

Demir Grappo is an outcast—he fled a life of wealth and power, abandoning his responsibilities as a general, a governor, and a son. Now he will live out his days as a grifter, rootless, and alone. But when his mother is brutally murdered, Demir must return from exile to claim his seat at the head of the family and uncover the truth that got her killed: the very power that keeps civilization turning, godglass, is running out.

Now, Demir must find allies, old friends and rivals alike, confront the powerful guild-families who are only interested in making the most of the scraps left at the table and uncover the invisible hand that threatens the Empire. A war is coming, a war unlike any other. And Demir and his ragtag group of outcasts are the only thing that stands in the way of the end of life as the world knows it.

My thanks to NetGalley and TOR Books for providing me with an eBook in exchange for an honest review. 

You can find out more about Brian McClellan his website:
Purchase In the Shadow of Lightning on Amazon

Brian McClellan is an American epic fantasy author from Cleveland, Ohio. He is known for his acclaimed Powder Mage Universe and essays on the life and business of being a writer.

Brian now lives on the side of a mountain in Utah with his wife, Michele, where he writes books and nurses a crippling video game addiction.

Brian’s novels include the Powder Mage Trilogy (Promise of BloodThe Crimson Campaign, and The Autumn Republic), Gods of Blood and Powder (Sins of Empire, Wrath of Empire, and Blood of Empire), and the Valkyrie Collections (Uncanny Collateral and Blood Tally).

Follow Me on Social Media