The Secrets of Shadowcrest

Lance McColgan

Publisher: Cabalian Games Pages: (paperback) $17.95 Price: 364 ISBN: 9798989631506 Reviewed: May, 2024 Author Website: Visit »

Lance Ian McColgan blends historical fact and fantastical fiction in The Secrets of Shadowcrest, a debut full of action, adventure and a unique ability to make medieval history come alive.

Shadowcrest offers faithful fantasy fans all the necessary and expected ingredients: magic, monsters, a hero’s journey, and exotic, faraway locales. Simultaneously, the novel is solidly rooted in European history, specifically the politically tumultuous landscape of 12th century England.

Would-be rulers are vying for power in the wake of years of civil war, and Henry II’s only clear route to the throne under the threat of assassination is to find an armor imbued with magic and power reputed to lie on Cabalia, “the island of magic” that has posed a spoil to western conquerors since the Roman Empire.

Henry sends his loyal knight Lord William Steele to retrieve the armor from the wilds of Cabalia, a place shrouded in tales of mystery, magic and danger. The task quickly turns perilous, as Steele runs afoul of mercenaries, monsters and other baddies, even as he finds unlikely allies (and romance) along the way.

What begins as an epic tale rooted in history rapidly evolves into an imaginative, otherworldly adventure. The balance between these two worlds is tricky, but McColgan writes with a fluency that neatly merges fact and fiction. The author offers characters that feel relatable, even among tales of magical charms and cursed creatures that somehow seem right in line with the details of medieval England.

The prose is sometimes unpolished, with occasional awkward construction and some needless wordiness, but ultimately, McColgan threads the needle and succeeds in creating an enjoyable tale.

According to the author’s biography, he started the story as a narrative for a board game. The final product hardly feels like a casual tale for a night of tabletop role playing. Instead, it comes across as a largely well-crafted fantasy that’s bound to please history and fantasy fans alike.

Author's Current Residence
Lanesborough, Massachusetts