Welcome to my weekly segment, Waiting on Wednesday, where I look at upcoming books that I am planning to order and review in the next few months and which I think I will really enjoy. I run this segment in conjunction with the Can’t-Wait Wednesday meme that is currently running at Wishful Endings. Stay tuned to see reviews of these books when I get a copy of them. For this week’s Waiting on Wednesday, I check out one of the most anticipated and epic upcoming fantasy novels of 2023 with, The Shadow Casket, by Chris Wooding.
Back in 2018 I was lucky enough to be introduced the amazing writing of an impressive fantasy author, Chris Wooding. Despite his work on several previous fantasy books, including the Braided Path, Malice and Tales of Ketty Jay fantasy series, I hadn’t previously had the opportunity to read anything from Wooding. I also wasn’t initially aware that he had a new fantasy book coming out in 2018 either, so much so that its release completely passed me by. It wasn’t until I started hearing rave reviews about it that I decided to check it out, and boy was I lucky that I did, as it proved to be an exceptional and incredible fantasy read.
That book was The Ember Blade, a massive and elaborate fantasy epic that took a great group of characters on an intense and captivating adventure. The first book in Wooding’s The Darkwater Legacy series, The Ember Blade primarily takes place in the conquered fantasy nation of Ossia, who were invaded and destroyed by the brutal Krodan Empire years before, who now rule Ossia with an iron first. The only Ossians who flourish in the country anymore are those who bow down to the Krodan rulers and allow their children to be brainwashed into believing that the Krodan are saviours. This includes the main protagonist of the series, Aren, who grew up wanting to be a Krodan with all his heart.
However, after his father is killed by the Krodans, Aren and his best friend Cade are taken to a labour camp, where they are expected to die. Realising just how evil the Krodan are, Aren plots to fight them, and is given the chance when a band of freedom fighters free them from the camp. They soon find themselves embroiled in a plot to break into an impregnable fortress and steal the legendary Ember Blade, an ancient sword with the potential to ignite the Ossian people in rebellion. However, while Aren and his comrades are able to pull off the heist, they suffer great losses in process, including the band’s leader and Cade.
I had an extremely awesome time listening to The Ember Blade audiobook, which really filled all my epic fantasy needs. Not only did Wooding introduce a bold new fantasy world, filled with some amazingly complex characters, but The Ember Blade had an exceptional story to it. I loved the combination of fantasy adventure, rebel action, and a heist storyline that formed the main plot, and I was relentlessly entertained the entire way through. I also had a lot of fun listening to The Ember Blade audiobook, which ended up being the eighth longest audiobook I have ever listened to. The Ember Blade got an easy five-star review from me, and I have been eagerly looking forward to the sequel for a few years now.
Well, my wait is finally over, as Wooding is finally releasing the second Darkwater Legacy novel in a couple of months’ time. This sequel to The Ember Blade is The Shadow Casket, which will continue the epic story from the from the first book. Set for release in mid-February 2023, The Shadow Casket has an immense amount of potential and I like the sound of the cool plot synopsis that has been released:
A BAND OF REBELS.
A TRAITOR IN THEIR MIDST.
A REVOLUTION ABOUT TO BEGIN.
It’s been three years since Aren seized the Ember Blade. Three years since they struck the spark they hoped would ignite the revolution. But the flame has failed to catch. The Krodans have crushed Ossia in an iron grip of terror. The revolution seems further away than ever.
Far in the north, the Dawnwardens seek to unite the fractious clans of the Fell Folk and create a stronghold from which to retake their land. But even if they can overcome the danger of treachery from within, they still have to contend with the dreadknights. Only the druidess Vika can resist these near-unstoppable foes, and there’s only one of her.
But what if there was a weapon that could destroy the dreadknights? A weapon of such power it could turn the tide? A weapon that, if it fell into the wrong hands, might mean the end of all hope?
The Shadow Casket has returned from out of the past, and it will save or damn them all.
There are some very intriguing elements in the synopsis above that have got me even more excited for The Shadow Casket. I love the idea of a bit of a time-skip between The Ember Blade and this sequel, especially as it appears that the protagonist’s dream or uniting the country around the Ember Blade failed. While this does kind of invalidate the events of the first book, I’m sure that Wooding will turn this failure into some impressive personal drama for the protagonist. In addition, there appears to be even more chaos and confusion as the rebels attempt to band together their fractious countrymen into fighting a terrible enemy. Throw in a new fantasy MacGuffin, the Shadow Casket, and I am sure that this will be a great new read with another epic story to it.
Look, there is honestly no way that I will not be enjoying The Shadow Casket when it comes out next year. The Ember Blade was too damn good not for me to look forward to the sequel, and I can’t wait to see how the elaborate story continues. While I am slightly worried that I may have forgotten some of the details since listening to the first book in 2019, I am sure that I will have no trouble diving back into this series. This book has so much damn potential, and I am exceedingly confident that The Shadow Casket is going to be one of the absolute best fantasy books of 2023.