Shadow of the Lost

A Novel in the Jewel of Life series

Fiction - Fantasy - General
322 Pages
Reviewed on 06/22/2021
Buy on Amazon

This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Book Review Exchange Program, which is open to all authors and is completely free. Simply put, you agree to provide an honest review an author's book in exchange for the author doing the same for you. What sites your reviews are posted on (B&N, Amazon, etc.) and whether you send digital (eBook, PDF, Word, etc.) or hard copies of your books to each other for review is up to you. To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email, and be sure to describe your book or include a link to your Readers' Favorite review page or Amazon page.

This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Book Donation Program, which was created to help nonprofit and charitable organizations (schools, libraries, convalescent homes, soldier donation programs, etc.) by providing them with free books and to help authors garner more exposure for their work. This author is willing to donate free copies of their book in exchange for reviews (if circumstances allow) and the knowledge that their book is being read and enjoyed. To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email. Be sure to tell the author who you are, what organization you are with, how many books you need, how they will be used, and the number of reviews, if any, you would be able to provide.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite

Shadow of the Lost: A Novel in the Jewel of Life series by Ryan D. Gebhart is a captivating fantasy with a strong and deftly written conflict. When we meet Jaerol Solaris and Kiron, they are a very happy couple, having spent the night before together and looking forward to the great tournament, little knowing that they will have to face each other. Shocked when they discover that they are paired, they know one of them must die. Jaerol wants to elope with his boyfriend, Kiron. But it is too late when Kiron gets his lover, Jaerol, to kill him. What follows is a painful journey filled with guilt, self-loathing, and the struggle for emotional healing. Can Jaerol ever love anyone else again? Can he overcome the loss and trauma and open his heart to someone else?

There is so much to enjoy in Ryan D. Gebhart’s Shadow of the Lost, especially the meticulousness and the skill with which the protagonist is written. The reader is immediately pulled into his world and the reversal he makes from someone reveling in love to one tormented by guilt and hatred, not only for killing his boyfriend but equally for those who made him kill Kiron. This makes the narrative poignant and immersive. The author skillfully explores the mindscapes of the protagonist, giving readers a picture of his psyche. The internal conflict is powerfully written, following Jaerol as he struggles to move on. Even him going to the temple will touch emotional chords in readers. The characters are rock-solid and one of my favorite characters was Liam. I enjoyed the way the author writes the relationship between Liam and Jaerol. This is a mesmerizing story with themes of adventure, love, loss, grief, guilt, and healing. It is passionate with a setting that is exciting for fans of fantasy.

Divine Zape

Shadow of the Lost: A Novel in the Jewel of Life series by Ryan D. Gebhart is a coming-of-age story that deals with heartbreaking loss, grief, and the protagonist’s journey towards acceptance. Jaerol Solaris's world is complete with Kiron, the love of his life. They love each other deeply. In fact, Jaerol thinks he cannot live without Kiron. On the day of the Grand Tourney, they are excited about the competition after spending an evening together, but when they realize that they are paired in the deadly games, they know that one of them must kill the other. Being the stronger one, Kiron gets Jaerol to kill him, and it is too late when Jaerol realizes what he has done. Stricken by pain and grief, he moves to the temple, but can he open his heart to anyone, even to the patient and supportive Liam?

Ryan D. Gebhart crafts a wonderful fantasy tale with a great setting and characters that readers will love. Jaerol is a complex character and the complexity in his nature is written into his struggle to reconcile his warrior nature as a Cyndinari and the tenderness of his heart that is equally sensitive. The setting is well-written and the conflict explored at different levels. While the protagonist has his personal struggles with accepting the loss of the man he has always loved, there are clashes when it comes to the relationships between the different groups of people that inhabit the entire island of Cynethol, from temple knights to shadow elves, to goblins. The author writes compelling characters and readers will enjoy reading about the interactions between the protagonist and characters like Liam, Bastien, Renaud, and Stephen. Shadow of the Lost is an enthralling, skillfully plotted, and passionate tale that keeps the reader turning the pages; it is emotionally rich and features elegant prose that lures the reader deeper into the intricate plot.

Ruffina Oserio

Shadow of the Lost: A Novel in the Jewel of Life series by Ryan D. Gebhart is a heart-wrenching, poignant fantasy tale that starts with a compelling premise. Readers encounter Jaerol Solaris and his boyfriend Kiron exulting in their being together and looking forward to the violent competition ahead: a great day for Broid, for the entire island of Cynethol, and for the Erynien Empire. The Grand Tourney is at the center of everything, and while they know there are candidates who literally obliterate their opponents, they are not worried. Until the dreadful moment when they learn that they have been paired and will be fighting each other. One of them must die. Being the stronger person, Kiron chooses to be the one to die, and it is too late for Jaerol to do anything about it. Can he live without the man who has been everything to him, the love of his life? Even joining the temple, will he find solace, and will his heart ever open to love again the way he has loved Kiron?

This is a mesmerizing fantasy tale with a great storyline, same-sex relationship themes, action, and romance. But what is fascinating about the story is how Ryan D. Gebhart builds the protagonists. Jaerol is a fighter, a Cyndinari, and the offspring of those who value courage in the face of danger. But his heart is soft, won over by the love he has for Kiron. Being made to kill the one person who matters most to him upends his life and he goes through the phases of denial, anger, negotiation, depression, and acceptance. The author captures his emotional and inner world with such vividness that readers understand his pain as intimate and deeply human. Other characters like Liam, Bastien, Renaud, and Stephen are fully drawn as well, and I enjoyed how the author uses the connection between Liam and Jaerol to build suspense in the story. There were moments I wanted to see what will happen between the two, and even after the unprecedented kiss, their journey continues to intrigue the reader. One is very patient; the other is struggling with his past, one he couldn’t let go: “I loved him and the world made me kill him…”

Shadow of the Lost: A Novel in the Jewel of Life series has impeccable world-building and readers get a clear idea of the different kinds of people and creatures living in the different segments of this world, from temple knights to shadow elves, to goblins and more. It is a novel with unforgettable characters, a fascinating world to navigate, and a conflict that grows stronger with each page turned. The writing is top-rate and the drama never diminishes.