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Reviewed by Lit Amri for Readers' Favorite
Valley of the Shadow (The Hand of the Khryseoi, Book 1) by Michael Gardner opens with the post war scene between the immortals, the Khryseoi, and the God of Death, Eurynomos, and his servants, in the Illyrian peninsular, 2106 BC. Phylasso, leader of the Khryseoi, sacrificed himself to end the war. The surviving Khryseoi disbanded and lived their lives while keeping vigil for Phylasso’s return, or in case the enemies reappear. As time passes, Raven, a Khryseoi bowman, discovers Eurynomos’s servants still roaming the earth, murdering the Khryseoi from the shadows. Without the help of his leader, Raven must reunite the Khryseoi and stop Eurynomos’s dark spirits before they destroy all life forever.
Gardner puts a fresh spin on the good versus evil theme in fantasy, a special group of people battling ancient enemies - immortals versus death. I like the reincarnation concept of the Khryseoi, a group of individuals chosen and granted immortality to fight the God of Death and his servants. If a Khryseoi dies, he or she will be reborn again as a child, but will grow fast and retain the memories of their past lives. They are also blessed with the power to heal quickly and never to age past their prime. The characterization is sufficient enough to get the plot moving. However, it took me a while to really relate to the characters and the events taking place in the story. On the other hand, the plot has a good pace and each character has a solid backstory. Overall, a good debut for the series.