The Shadow of What Was Lost (The Licanius Trilogy #1) by James Islington

Every man who holds a sword in his hand, holds murder in his heart.

There is nothing us readers love more than when a book exceeds our expectations, and this book did just that. I would have read it long ago if I had known it was this good. To think that this book has been on my tbr since 2017!

This book is my kind of fantasy. It has magic, battles, great characters, and amazing history. It’s suspense-filled, the pace is perfect, and it is neither slow nor too fast. The fight scenes were well portrayed.

I really like the magic system. It’s so easy to understand. The magic users store up their life essence. That essence is converted into whatever magic they have. Like the Augurs (the really powerful ones), some of them can draw essence from things around them.

Worldbuilding and Writing

Nothing makes a fantasy book like good worldbuilding, and this book has just that. Despite half of the main characters journeying for about 70% of the book, the author still depicted all the locations perfectly. The book is written in the third person multiple POVs of the main characters. It’s easy to read and comprehend.


Davian is one of the main characters also among my favorite. He is smart, thoughtful, loves his friends, and somehow naive, which isn’t his fault. Let me let Asha do the work.

Davian is sweet. A little too quiet, sometimes; he gets wrapped up in his problems and forgets he can share the burden. But he’s honest, and smart, and loyal.” She smiled as she talked about him.

Ashalia, aka Asha, is one of Davian’s best friends and the only female among the main characters. Asha is so brave, and I love her so much. She is loyal, and she sees it through when she decides on something.

Wirrander, aka Wirr, is Davian and Asha’s best friend. The trio did basically everything together before they were separated. Wirr is wise and experienced, unlike Davian. He is a bit of a pessimist and cynic with good reason.

Wirr is loud and brash. He’ll sometimes act before he thinks it through, but then is clever enough to fix whatever he did wrong before he gets in too much trouble. He’s funny and good at…” She gestured vaguely. “Well, he’s good at everything, truth be told. And he knows it. He’s not arrogant, mind you, but he’s more confident than anyone has a right to be.

Caeden is a mysterious character and a weird one thrown in the mix with the above. The boys found him in the worst place possible. To make matters worse, Caeden doesn’t have any memory of who is or is. I like that he didn’t let that stop him from being the best person he could be. He is fiercely loyal to his new friends and would do anything for them.

The only secrets a mind cannot give up are those it doesn’t know

The other characters that I adore are Erran, Kol, Essei, Karaline, Aelric, and Dezia.


Twenty years ago, there was a war between the gifted(magic-users) and the non-gifted. The gifted were abusing their powers, and there was no one to stop them. That changed when one man found a way to sanction their powers, limit their usage and strip them of their powers.

Now, all gifted people are kept in a kind of boarding school. They are not allowed to leave without permission. Also, a group of people known as administrators can tell them what to do due to their tenets which all gifted have. They can’t even use their powers for self-defense. Every few years, a test is done to know how powerful a gifted is. If they don’t pass the test, their powers are stripped, and they become a Shodow (that’s what they are called).

Davian, Wirr, and Asha are gifted in a school. The above three are friends. Davian isn’t sure he’ll pass the upcoming test, so when he took it, Wirr went along with him when an opportunity to get away came. On the way, they met Caeden, who has no memory of who he is.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
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