Todays review is part of the Dark Shala tour that I am involved with through Tomorrow Comes Media. Thanks to Seven Star Press for helping me get involved with this!
For those of you who liked the movie Avatar, (that’s the James Cameron film – not Avatar The Last Airbender) you may be interested in this one. This one involves alien warriors with connections to animals called fels, who are basically giant cats. Being a cat lover myself I jumped at the chance to read this one! I actually found out that this is the second book in the series (the Shala trilogy) and because I hadn’t read the first book I had to kinda play catch up to find out what was happening. But I think I got enough of it for review purposes so I may as well jump into the deep end here!
I was given a review copy for the purpose of this review and all opinions stated here are my own. I received no compensation for this review. So let’s check out the second book of the Shala trilogy – Dark Shala by Cathy Benedetto.
About The Author
Ms. Benedetto is a writer, artist and avid reader. Her love of science fiction and fantasy inspired her trilogy about the mystical race of warriors known as Shala. Her favorite authors, Anne McCaffrey, Robert Jordan, and Orson Scott Card, have spun stories that shifted Cathy’s imagination into high gear.
The former Vice Principal and education consultant, Cathy was also a five time softball All-American, and AAU basketball All-American. She was a member of the U.S. Women’s basketball team that played in the World University Games in Czechoslovakia and the Pan American Games in Canada. While coaching, she was published in the Women in Sports magazine and wrote a column for the Bellevue Journal American.
Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Cathy moved to Lexington, Kentucky in 2003. The former coach enjoys supporting the Kentucky Wildcats women’s basketball team, woodturning, lapidary arts, and loves fishing on her pontoon boat. A special joy is playing with David, Charlotte, Kendall, Lily, and Liz.
Amazon Links for Books in the Shala series:
The Eyes of Sandala: http://www.amazon.com/Eyes-Sandala-Cathy-Benedetto/dp/1613181159
The King of the Fels: http://www.amazon.com/King-Fels-Cathy-Benedetto/dp/1613181396
A pretty decent cover. Got a nice colourful background, juxtaposed with a dark silhouette of a Shala warrior – which illustrates the main theme of the book. Not really much to say about it other than that. It’s basic but pretty good.
The Shala are a physically dominating and powerful race that live in a crater and have a telepathic link to creatures called fels. They are locked in a war with the Surmese army, led by Commander General Taro, who seek to destroy them as (from what I can gather, remember I’ve not read the first book in the series) a prophecy will arise where the Shala will return to fight them back. Adding to the mix is an exiled Shala named Krale, the eponymous Dark Shala of the book. He’s an angry Shala that’s out for revenge and is a master of dark arts, so he joins the Surmese army to take revenge against his Shala brethren.
I like the whole set up of the book. The Shala are an interesting race, for some reason they remind me of the tribal warriors of Ancient Africa or Egypt, which I have an interest in. They are pretty tough as well as they can run a good fifty miles or so without getting tired! This is particularly relevant when their human allies struggle to keep up to them and it was good to put across those differences in the races.
I do also love the idea that the Shala have a psychic connection with the fels. Being a cat lover myself I like anything that involves cats (even lions and tigers and the like). If like me, you’re a cat lover (or any animal lover for that instance), then you’d probably enjoy this part of the story.
Now, if I do have a couple of complaints about the book, the first would be was that I was a little bit confused as to who the main character was. No one really in the book stood out for me as the main character so it was a little bit tough for me to know who was the main protagonist. From reading the synopsis of the first book, I learned that it was Tarjeen, but he didn’t really do a whole lot in this book for me. That being said, this is the second book of the series, so maybe he just took a back seat so that other characters can have a moment to shine – which is something I’ve done before in my books. My other problem was that not a great deal happens in this book. Being a sequel, I would have expected a lot more action – and there was, but most of the book was people talking and planning battle tactics. The action scenes that were in there were good, but they were few and far between for my liking.
One more minor gripe, there was one moment where the prose was a little inconsistent. At one moment the heroes were fighting monsters called ratwreys (giant rat monsters), but then they were described as wreyrats (or something there about). I wasn’t sure if this was a typo or a new form of monster so it was a little confusing.
Story wise, I did find the concept interesting. Whilst there was a lack of action, the story did include a few twists and turns that caught my attention – including a possible fate for the fels which would have a major impact on the story. I won’t give anything away for spoilers sake, but it does make for an interesting future in the series. And it was nice that the story shifted between the heroes and the villains, so that we got a view of their life and how they prepared for the oncoming battle.
Finally, I have to praise the character of Krale. He was my kinda villain, cocky, arrogant, but I could understand his motivations perfectly. Whilst he wasn’t a likeable character, he was one of these “love to hate” villains that kicked ass and took names! I’d love to see how his character develops over the series.
- Animal lovers will enjoy this.
- Interesting concept and story.
- Mixes between bad guys and good guys.
- Really well done main villain that you can hate, but understand.
- Could have done with more action for my tastes.
On the whole, whilst I wish that there were a few more fight scenes to keep the pace up, it was actually a good story and one that I think many will enjoy. It’s a nice, straight forward good versus evil Fantasy story with some interesting twists in the tale and full of colourful landscapes and creatures. If you’re a fan of films like Avatar then you should definitely check this out.
FINAL SCORE: 3.5/5