The Silver Shard is Nick Horth’s first novel. His previous work – City of Secrets – clocks in at around 120 pages, so I consider it a novella more than anything. Between City of Secrets and The Silver Shard there sits Callis and Toll: The Old Ways, a fairly decent short story. If you have not already I would strongly recommend reading City of Secrets first. It’s characters, events and twists are built upon in The Silver Shard, and the events of City of Secrets are thoroughly spoiled by The Silver Shard!
The first two entries were enjoyable, but felt a little constrained. There wasn’t much room for the characters to grow, or for the suspense and mystery to be teased out. City of Secrets does give an interesting hint of life in the city of Excelsis, where prophecy is used as currency.
The Silver Shard is very much a chase romp – where the heroes must try to stop the villain from reaching the big bad artefact before he can bend it to his diabolical will. In terms of the big story beats, there’s nothing here you won’t have seen before. Nick Horth does a good job of painting the villain as sometimes sympathetic, a man on the brink, trying to escape the path laid before him. But the characters aren’t really the main stars of the novel. Nick Horth is also a background writer for Games Workshop and the real star of the novel is the realm of beasts itself. He paints such wonderful imagery of an alien land, with unknown and myriad dangers arrayed against mortalkind. There’s so many scenes I want to share with you, but I don’t want to spoil the moments for you. There’s one particular threat that just sticks in my mind – a throwaway threat that is such a wonderful twist on a familiar foe, it still sticks with me now. What could have been derivative is transformed into something wondrous and novel. Nick Horth’s focus on the peripheries and ancillary details of the the realm of beasts is what makes this book a must read for me, and makes me excited for his presumed next entry in the series.