Shadow of the Darkwood

Trials of Arden

Young Adult - Fantasy - Epic
458 Pages
Reviewed on 02/17/2019
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Kim Anisi for Readers' Favorite

With Shadow of the Darkwood by Andrew Alexander Miller, the Trials of Arden begin. Arden, who had to choose his own name, is the heir to the throne. One day, he makes a new friend, Taril, who is the youngest of three brothers, and usually gets bullied by them. He also does not have a very loving father. It’s just so nice for him when Arden wants Taril to move in with him – finally Taril’s family doesn’t have to deal with him any longer! When the king’s business takes him to Tyare, Arden would like to find the ruins of a lost city in a rather creepy forest. Taril helps him to escape the city unseen, as the king surely would not have allowed such an outing. Soon, the two friends start to understand why only a few people venture this far into the forest.

Shadow of the Darkwood by Andrew Alexander Miller is a decent-sized read, so you’ll be able to truly dive into the world and get to know the characters. It’s not the kind of book you can read in one sitting (at least I couldn’t!). That alone is a plus in my eyes. Too many times have I picked up a book in any kind of “EPIC” genre, just to find that it’s far too short to be anywhere close to epic. I found the story to be interesting, but would have liked it better if it wasn’t going backwards and forwards in time so often. I’d rather have read everything chronologically, but that’s probably just me. Apart from that, it’s an interesting story which makes use of some well-known mythical folk and creatures, the most prominent one among them being Dagon and the elves. There are some exciting sub-plots, and they seamlessly interweave with the main plot to create one very good read that makes one look forward to the second book of the series.

A. L. Peevey

In the opening pages of Andrew Alexander Miller’s The Trials of Arden, we are introduced to the heir to the throne of Ardun City, Crown Prince Arden, the son of High-King Fengal. Arden and his best friend, Taril, who is the son of the King of Tyare, are almost inseparable and yearn to escape the confines of their nobility. Despite the fact that children have been mysteriously disappearing, the two young friends discover and follow certain hidden passages beneath the city of Tyare. They manage to get away from their guards and go in search of the fabled lost city of Talindor, which lies somewhere in Verin Forest. But, tradition and rumor speak of a shadowy evil power dwelling in the heart of the forest, an ancient force to be reckoned with. Have Arden and Taril gone too far in their wish to be carefree, only to run into grave danger?

Andrew Alexander Miller has carefully and enthusiastically crafted an imaginary world rich in history and names and a map in The Trials of Arden. Miller himself grew up reading the works of other much beloved fantasy writers. We are told that the tale this book is based on comes from the translation of The Tome of Ages. Such imaginative details will excite us readers who have also enjoyed and fallen in love with other, popular high fantasy books and series. In the introduction of The Trials of Arden, Miller has promised more books about Arden and his companions, and that promise will keep us reading and looking forward to more installments concerning the history of this heroic fantasy world! Miller has written an exciting and fast-paced story with the assurance of more great reading pleasure to come.

K.C. Finn

The Trials of Arden: Shadow of the Darkwood is a lengthy work of fantasy fiction written for young adults, and penned by author Andrew Alexander Miller. As the opening to the epic fantasy series of its title, we focus in on our hero Arden, the heir to the throne of his father’s kingdom. Arden has always lived a sheltered and protected life, and at first we think this is due to his royal position. But when he and his friend Taril sneak away to help solve a mystery for the people of Tyare, the real secrets about Arden start to come to light in the darkness of the woods.

In establishing a brand new fantasy world and series, author Andrew Alexander Miller leaves no stone unturned and no question unanswered in this fully rounded epic adventure. I liked Arden and Taril as lead characters, boisterous and adventurous but also naïve and flawed in their attempts to both prove themselves and help others outside of the jurisdiction of the king. The Darkwood itself was a really fantastically developed place, with crisp prose that brought the atmosphere to life in a visceral way and gave a real sense of threat to our heroes as they venture within the ruins and darkness there. It’s a long read for a young adult work, but hardcore fantasy fans will devour it quickly and be eager for more from this excellently formed world. Overall, I’d definitely recommend The Trials of Arden: Shadow of the Darkwood as a five star read.