Worldshaper

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 25 Mar 2019

Member Reviews

A wonderful fantasy novel that ties in not only beautiful world building, but a fast moving plot. Engaging characters, high speed chases, a clockwork universe, and the highest of stakes makes this a novel that is virtually impossible to put down. A dash of humor on top of it all made this book a winner.
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Who wouldn’t love to live in a perfect world living the ideal perfect life? Wouldn’t everyone love the power to shape their own lives, their own worlds, into the life they long to have? Author Edward Willett has brought this very power to life in Worldshaper, the first in his new portal fantasy series, and it most certainly kicks off his series with a rather intriguing start. 

With a pottery studio to call her own, an incredible boyfriend, and nothing but fond memories of the life she has lived, Shawna Keys is living her ideal life. Yet all that was perfect is taken in an instant when a lunch date with her best friend turns into a nightmare. Mysterious attackers kill her best friend and just as they are about to kill Shawna, time resets itself, placing Shawna three hours in the past. No one remembers the attack for it never happened and no one remembers Shawna’s friend… for she never existed. Fearing for her sanity, Shawna is approached by a stranger who tells her she has the power to Shape worlds and the reason her world had been so perfect was because she Shaped it to be. But now, her world is in danger for a threat known as the Adversary has been traveling from Shaped world to Shaped world and taking control of them. While she is too late to save her world, Shawna learns she carries within her the power to save other worlds and thus sets out on a journey of uncertainty to help other Shapers when she herself does not remember how she ever became one.

Willett has many fantastical works under his belt, but for those who are first being introduced to his writing, Worldshaper is a great book to start with. The best way to describe Willett’s writing style is fun. Of course, all authors have fun when it comes to writing, but there are those authors that are far and few between who readers can tell are having fun playing with words and creating sentences. Take these two sentences for instance. “The earlier part of the hike had been tremendously tiring. Now it also became scarily slippery, cursedly cold, and wearingly wet – just all-around alliteratively annoying” (Willett 133) and “If there’s one thing you don’t want to hear from the semimystical guide who is attempting to spirit you from one world to another without attracting the attention of a godlike murderous Adversary, it’s, ‘Uh-oh’” (Willett 144). These are but two of many fun and cleverly written lines scattered throughout his book.

The story itself matches Willett’s writing style as Worldshaper has many fun and adventurous moments. Perhaps the only setback is the fact it takes a little while to reach those moments. The set up for the story in general is incredibly well thought out and planned, but at the same time, it has a tendency to drag at times and it begins in a rather cliché way. A character’s perfect life is disrupted so a mysterious stranger appears to let the main character know she has incredible power and is more powerful than most like her, but the problem is she has no memory of how she acquired power. Sound familiar? However, this in no way makes Worldshaper a bad story and this is actually where the clichés end. 

Leading up to the adventurous moments of the story are what could be considered “filler” moments as Willett introduces the readers to his world. At times, yes, these moments can become a bit confusing and even, at times, a bit repetitive, but once readers reach the halfway mark of Worldshaper, this is where the fun begins. Readers get to travel with Shawna and her guide across the country by means of travel that may remind some readers of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. Being told in the first person, readers will fall in love with Shawna’s wit and charm and will love the many pop culture references she uses as she travels with her guide who humorously misunderstands nearly everything she says. 

The most exciting part of the story is once readers come close to the ending of the story. Without spoiling anything, the story takes a COMPLETELY unique turn that no reader sees coming and captures the attention of the reader to the point where they will not stop reading it until they reach the final page. The best words to describe the ending are as follows: bizarre, unique, intriguing, and entertaining. In other words, any reader who is a fan of fantasy and science fiction will adore the turn this story takes.

If one could shape their perfect world, what would it be like? Willett has made this idea come to life in Worldshaper, the first in his new fantasy series that has amazing potential. It is most certainly a story to be experienced by readers and they will most certainly have fun once they read it. It is a bit slow and cliché to start, but come the halfway point, readers are in for a real treat. Willet’s writing style is superb, witty, and paints a beautiful picture, being one of very few authors today where readers can tell he is just having fun playing with sentences and words. Who knows how many books this series will contain and there are plenty of opportunities to delve deeper into Willet’s fantasy world and learn more about it, but one thing is for certain: upon completing Worldshaper, readers will definitely want to know what happens next. 

**Originally posted on my blog Roll Out Reviews on February 6, 2019**
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So, I absolutely loved this book. Basically, the premise is that this potter, Shawna, is a Worldshaper (aka Shaper) from the First World. As you can see, her chosen profession of pottery-making is perfect. 10 years ago, she was given her own world to Shape (basically create however she wanted) by Ygrair, her past mentor and teacher. However, Shawna does not remember creating her world, or even Ygrair herself in the slightest, and so she has no idea that she is a Shaper… At least until Yatsar, on a save-the-worlds mission from Ygrair, enlightens her. And then they must flee through Shawna’s world–which by the way is beginning to turn on her thanks to the Adversary–to reach a portal to another world in order to escape said Adversary and collect the Hokmah’s of other worlds to eventually bring back to Ygrair. Got it? Oh yeah, and everyone that Shawna knew from her world, all of her memories prior to 10 years ago, all are fake. She created them herself. Her boyfriend, best friend, even her mother are all figments of her creation.

“…[I]n such a world,” Karl said, “where there is only one way to think, ruthlessly imposed, there can be no freedom, no change, no creativity…He has stripped them of free will. He is the ultimate tyrant.” (pg 89)

So this plot… Like daaaang it was intense. I liked that even though it seems desperately convoluted, it was really easy to pick up on and develop throughout the book. Edward Willett does an absolutely amazing job keeping the reader engaged in the plot and up-to-date with what exactly is going on. Part of that is thanks to his writing of multiple POVs, mostly Shawna, some Yatsar, and even some scenes from the Adversary’s perspective. It creates a well-rounded story that shows this confusing mission from Ygrair in differing lights. Is she really this angel that Yatsar believes she is? Or is she more of the war criminal that the Adversary believes her to be?

Within the multiple POVs, Willett also intertwines modern humor and witty historic literary references throughout the novel. Shawna’s entertaining humor keeps her plight upbeat and  purposefully moving along, allowing her (and the readers) to deal with the multitude of losses throughout the book. It is also interesting to note that Shawna has a habit of breaking the fourth wall (is that what you still call it in writing?) In certain situations, she tends to almost speak directly to the reader, gently tugging us into the story until we almost become one of her own Shaped people… What a thought! It was a little jarring at first, but after the first few times she did this, I settled in quite nicely. It even contributed to my enjoyment of the novel, as I felt more a part of this book than many others I’ve read, and it lent further humor to be had.

"I’d always thought of myself as an extremely creative person, and now Karl was telling me I’d only put a thin veneer of change on my world… a layer of ordinary blown glaze on a plain stoneware pot, as compared to the glistening metallic glaze other Shapers had lavished on extravagantly  abstract ceramic sculptors," (pg 135).

So Shawna’s world was Shaped to closely resemble the First World, from which I have determined is basically our own Earth in real life. But what makes it incredibly interesting and intriguing are the minor differences that Shawna incorporated in her world, just enough so that we readers feel as if we are on a completely different Earth than our real one just outside the pages. In fact, there are some amazing technological advances/machines that I would love to have in real life. Additionally, all brand-names have been modified… Just enough so that we readers are familiar with the product, but which have enough difference to them to go along with Shawna’s humor. The worldbuilding truly is phenomenal, as it takes us to a whole new world, while only changing minor things from our own.

The only reason I did not give this novel 5 stars was the fact that the characters tended to be inconsistent and redundant. They were inconsistent in the fact that they would have thoughts or arguments at one point in the story, and then would have a different opinion or change part of the facts, later on in the story, without any rationality for it. It was slightly redundant both in regards to the inconsistency (we readers would be presented with the same argument/thought again and again, even though it tended to be inconsistent, and perhaps lent to part of its inconsistency) as well as in dialogue. Yatsar and Shawna seem to have the same conversations/arguments over again and again, and I understand that that is part of human nature, and that Shawna was attempting to reconcile her new world view with what her memory told her, but it got tiring after a while. So much so that Shawna almost began getting on my nerves, and I would breeze through some of her dialogue moments with Yatsar. However, these moments were few and far between, and the rest of the novel more than makes up for these very minor flaws!

"How much Shaping can the human mind take?… How much can you bend it before it shatters?" (pg 160)

I can definitely say that I will eagerly be on the lookout for the second book in this series! This one definitely left me with a cliffhanger, and I cannot wait until I can continue the adventure!
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Fascinating concept, pretty decent writing. It is a little rough when it comes to pacing and flow, and it was very obviously the start of a series so it didn't really feel finished, which is why I didn't rank it higher.
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Worldshaper is the first book in a new YA/NA crossworld fantasy series by Edward Willett. Released 18th Sept 2018 on Penguin's DAW imprint, it's 368 pages and available in paperback, audio and ebook formats.

This book brings an interesting world-building and fantasy imprint to the table. The lead character Shawna is a potter (I like that!) and 'shaper'. She's unaware of her special status as the shaper of the world she lives in (a central plot point which will apparently be revisited in future books). There are hundreds of other shaped worlds which lie tenuously connected contiguously to one another. Her guide Karl (a sort of Harry Dresden pastiche, complete with duster and hat) is an extraterrestrial on a mission to save First World (Earth prime) and the Labyrinth (the collection of multiverses). There's a fair smattering of Judeo-Christian concepts and vocabulary (The 'Adversary', hokhmah - Hebrew for 'wisdom') side by side with classic SF/fantasy elements (nanites, AI, gates, crossworlds etc).

There's some rough language (multiple uses of the f-bomb, and lighter cursing). There's some light implied (off narrative) sexual entendre between the lead character and her boyfriend early on in the book, but nothing explicit.

There's a lot of potential here and although I found this first book to be disappointingly reactive instead of plot led, I feel that the author could well find his feet and take this series in a good direction.

I'll be interested to see where the author goes from here. This was an interesting read and has a lot of potential. It was long, for a YA/NA novel in my estimation. A sample of the first chapter/intro is available on Amazon.

Three stars.
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Worldshaper by Edward Willett is the first book in the Worldshapers series.  Shawna Keys day gets off to a normal start.  Shawna is a potter who is opening her own shop and studio called Worldshaper Pottery.  She notices these dark storm clouds in the sky that no one else seems to notice as menacing.  Shawna is at the local coffee shop with her friend at lunch when men in black storm in with guns and start shooting.  The man in charge comes up to her, touches her forehead and then the world changes.  It is three hours earlier, but she is the only person who remembers what happened.  Shawna returns to her shop where she is approached by a man, Karl Yatsar who explains that she is a worldshaper.  Shawna is responsible for creating this world and he needs her assistance.   Unfortunately, Shawna remembers nothing of her training or her past before she created this world.  The Adversary is determined to go through world after world taking each worldshaper’s hokhmah (power to change their world).  Adversary is bent on getting to Ygrair who trained each worldshaper and gave them their own world.  Karl explains that Ygrair is injured and needs assistance.  Karl has a mission and he believes Shawna is the right person to help him.  Shawna and Karl embark on journey to find a portal to the next world and escape Adversary’s clutches.  

Worldshaper sounded like an intriguing science fiction novel.  Unfortunately, I was disappointed with Worldshaper (it was lacking).  The Adversary wants Shawna and Karl tells Shawna to run.  So, Shawn and Karl are on the run through the whole book.  Shawna, supposedly, has great power, but she has no idea how to use it.  If she does not shape things properly, there can be unintended consequences.  We get to see what happens when Shawna does not think things through completely.  Anytime Shawna questions Karl, he threatens to leave her behind to die.  As for the Adversary, we can see what happens when power goes to one’s head.  It seems like the author took ideas from different television shows, books and movies and then combined them into one book.  The character development is deficient.  The characters are never brought to life.  The author took technology from real life and altered the names for the book (HiPhone for iPhone, National Bureau of Investigation or NBI for FBI, SteamPix for Netflix are a couple of examples).  I know it is supposed to show how Shawna’s world resembles the original one (our Earth), but it just did not work for me.  Worldshaper felt like a rough draft instead of a finished novel.  Many details are repeated over and over (it was tiresome), while other issues are never addressed (Shawna’s memory for example).  Edward Willett is a descriptive writer (scenery especially) which slowed down the pace of the story.  I really did not need such a detailed description of each mountain, road, forest, car, etc.  I do want to warn readers that Worldshaper contains foul language and extreme violence (very detailed).  Worldshaper ends with a cliffhanger and we must wait for the next book to find out what happens next.  I believe Worldshaper would appeal to a younger audience (late teens).
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This was an ok read a mix of science fiction and fantasy.  Shawna slips into a parallel world during an act of violence and while most everything is the same, no one remembers her friend who was murdered.  She meets Karl who is her "guide" in this new world and the two must run from an evil adversary.  This is book 1 and ends with her entering another realm. I'm hoping Shawna grows into a more colorful exciting character.  I received a copy of this ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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*ARC received from NetGalley in return for an honest review*

I tried to love this book. The premise sounded delightful and the characters seemed interesting. The one thing that put me off so badly that I couldn't enjoy it was the name dropping of companies I know combined with those that I don't. I know that this was on purpose to showcase how this world was similar to the original Earth while also being different. Still, it was so off-putting that every time it happened I had to set the book down. By the time that this was happening every few pages, I knew that I wasn't able to get very far in this text. If this wasn't an occurrence that happened so often then I would have continued the book, but sadly, for now, it is on my DNF list.
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Edward Willett introduces the Worldshaper; Shauna Keys shapes worlds and she is about to enter a maze of Shaped Worlds as the Adversary destroys her world.  Can she follow Karl to other worlds and save them from the Adversary?
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Are you a fan of pop culture? Do you love when your books refer to your favorite things in veiled or outright terms? In Worldshaper, the first book of Edward Willett‘s new fantasy portal series, you get seamless current world references woven into new worlds.

Worldshaper is crafted brilliantly by providing subtle hints that the world Shawna Keys lives in is not our known world. A low-key reference to a professional lacrosse team, kite-fighting as a college sport, and lunar colonies provide the first hints. Over the course of the book, we discover more about the shaping of worlds and the degrees to which that occurs. This creates interesting philosophical questions for Shawna, and us as the readers.

“I’d always thought individuals mattered, that anyone could change their life and their future through hard work and hard choices.”

While there are deep questions about life and death, violence, and politics that you can ponder while reading Worldshaper, there are also lighter things to consider.

“…what reader wouldn’t love to find herself in a world she had previously only visited in her imagination…”

I loved this book and can't wait to continue on with the series. I think there is so much potential as Shawna explores each new world (and each world's Shaper). I want to see more of those chaotic and/or literary worlds and see what other pop culture references Edward Willett can weave into the story based on Shawna's life. 

Pick up a copy and let me know if there is a fictional world you’d want to live in or what small, subtle things you’d Shape into a changed copy of our world.
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WORLDSHAPER had a very intriguing premise, the set up is there for something really incredible, but unfortunately the characters and actual plot line didn't always live up to that amazing premise. Don't get me wrong the story was enjoyable, but unfortunately in a mediocre way leaving me searching for the greatness I felt could be there. At times it really felt like critical information was being held, with no real reason behind it. I kept waiting for the pay off of explanations or reasons by the end, but unfortunately they never came.

The characters are intriguing and full of potential, but again pieces felt to be missing. Shawna is your typical powerful heroine that didn't know she was powerful, which is a common storyline in this genre. However the problem was that the reasoning behind her memory lapse/lack of knowledge was withheld and I felt it detracted greatly from the story. I wanted to be given so much more than I was, and it just made her character feel half formed. She never got to grow enough in my eyes and her quirky personality lent to so much I think. Karl, her supposed savior wasn't much better as he just felt to be a unthinking soldier rather than a solid addition to the story. Any time Shawna questioned anything he became irate and all but threatened to leave her to die. It just left a bad taste in my mouth.

And also speaking of being half-formed, the Adversary, the villain, wasn't really fleshed out at all. He's supposed to be this terrifyingly evil man, and yet, which he does do a few things, honestly I just felt like he was the opposition rather than a true villainous force. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't root for him, but I didn't really feel any true animosity either, which made it harder to attach to our heroine's plight.

All in all WORLDSHAPER is a book with an intriguing premise, but had a rocky start to this series. I am interested in seeing where things head next and I hope much more will be revealed in the next book.
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This is not the place to write scathing reviews of books which do Montana wrong, or which ride the "meta" train way, way too far. Suffice it to say, this book ticked none of my boxes, and actually penciled in a few new ones to leave blank. This is unfortunate; I really wanted to love this book, based on its premise.
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This is a book that was filled with great ideas that were not utilized. Basically the story is what self help guru’s market, you can mold your world into what you want. However in this story that is true in the literal sense not the metaphysical. Also the heroine is a grown woman with a life. She’s 29, has friends, family, a business, and a boyfriend. The problem was although Shawna is this creator she has no power over her creation. Her enemy who spends so much time talking about how powerful she is has no problem continuously kicking her butt. Also although she is grown and has things to fight for and enough life experience to put her foot down and not follow some stranger without making demands of her own, she doesn’t. She runs and runs and runs, following Karl around like a lost teenager. But the worst thing to me was the worlds. What we got to see were slight variations on our reality, but much more interesting places were discussed instead of visited. Then to top it all off it ends in a cliffhanger. I wanted to like this book but there were too many flaws. I highly doubt I will continue with this series.
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I found this book while cruising through Netgalley.  I was looking for an urban fantasy novel and was immediately captivated by this intriguing cover.  Then the blurb hooked me, and I knew that I had to read this book!

Unfortunately, it wasn't as wonderful as I'd hoped.

The Good

The author has a wonderful writing style.  There's descriptive detail, but not too much descriptive detail.  (I hate when a story gets bogged down by pretty writing.  Just tell me what happens!)  I also liked Shawna.  The book is mostly written from her point of view, and I enjoyed being in her head.  True, she does make extremely lame jokes that, at times, becomes annoying (think Jazz Bashara of Artemis only not nearly as bad.)  But for the most part, Shawna was a heroine whom I could root for.

The Bad

This story, which is marketed as a fantasy, is more of a sci-fi.  Although, there isn't any science to explain what's going on.  There are vague references to some kind of nano-technology, but it's all very unclear how Shawna is able to shape the world around her.  The way she shapes her world, too, is puzzling.  She could have made all kinds of cool things in her world (I would have wanted a talking dragon or something.)  However, the best she comes up with is green-tooth instead of Blu-tooth technology, and a professional lacrosse franchise.

The characters, too, are very disappointing.  Karl is Shawna's otherworldly guide, but he had no personality.  The Adversary is evil...I guess.  He does some destructive things, but honestly, Shawna and Karl do as much or more damage to innocent bystanders than he does.  Additionally, Shawna was supposed to be a powerful world shaper, yet she couldn't remember any of her training.  In fact, she forget that she even was a worldshaper.  While this makes the story more interesting, the reader never finds out why she forgot in the first place as Shawna and Karl rarely question her memory loss.  I kept wondering why Shawna forgot.  Wouldn't that be important to know?

What really disappointed me, however, was the actual plot of the book.  Shawna and Karl are on the run from the Adversary.  That's it.  They run.  A lot.  They never set traps for the Adversary.  They never fight back.  All they do is run.  There are also points where the story builds to a climatic scene only to fizzle out.  When Karl needs to shut a portal, he just shuts it.  There's no drama.  No edge-of-your-seat battle scene.  Nothing.

I finished the book hoping that something interesting would happen.  It never did.
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I need book two now. Please. 

Warnings: some harsh language, death of a horse, and a terrorist like murder at the start of the book, plus a terrible cliffhanging that leaves you wanting more

There is so much to love about this book. Like the fact it references Tolkien at least three times, if not more. Or perhaps the fact it referenced Doctor Who. Or maybe the fact that it’s got a sarcastic wiseass smartmouthed main female character who actually stops to think ‘what-if’ every once and a while. Or perhaps there’s the fact that there are so many interesting ideas in this book that it’ll make your world spin. (Sorry. Poor pun, but this book is full of puns and cliches similiar, and I couldn’t not pass that up.) 

I really loved this book. Karl wasn’t my favorite character, but he eventually grew on me. I found him somewhat questionable, actually. The main bad guy known as The Adversary is a fascinating character that I sometimes want to strangle. What is it with people wanting complete and utter control over everything? He clearly didn’t have a good childhood. 

There’s a lot to like in this book, but Shawna’s character is the best. I liked Brent, the few times he showed up (Shawna’s boyfriend) and I liked Aesha (cool name!) and her mother and all the characters, and the references to various fandoms that I just love. The Emerald City was mentioned a couple of times, as was King Arthur and his Knights, not to mention a favorite poet of mine Robert Burns as well as Robert Frost…

Seriously. There’s loads of references, terrible puns, sarcastic characters with witty remarks, cliche upon cliche. Edward Willet is fast becoming my favorite author. I have another book that I need to read of his called The Cityborn…where was I? Ah, yes, the book! 

Imagine if you can shape worlds purely from your imagination. You’re only allowed to have a limited bit of power to shape those worlds, you can’t change yourself, and if you run out of power for good then that’s it, caput, the end. Such an intriguing idea! I wish that I could do such a thing! The only way that I can come close to that, however, is by writing. 

Shawna is a Shaper, one that Karl believes is the most powerful Shaper in existence aside from Ygrair, a woman who sent him on a quest to fetch a powerful Shaper. To do what, I’m not entirely certain, as Karl is very cagey about what’s going on there. He explains everything to Shawna, who is apparently supposed to know all about this stuff already. For some reason, however, she’s blocked it completely from her mind. Karl, frustrated, tugs her along and helps her to escape the Adversary who wants to kill her so that he can completely control the world that she’s created without any sort of interference at all. 

There’s much adventure within this book, plenty of fun and excitement. There’s scary moments for the characters, lots of life or death situations, and there’s also one scene where a horse is killed by accident. So if you’re a horse lover as I am, fair thee warning.

I was kinda reminded of the Magicians by Lev Grossman in regards to this book. While on a completely different scale, this book still had that same flare in regards to how imagination is used. I wonder if the author’s read the series, because there is a character named Julia towards the back end of the book too…

I really really enjoyed this book, and thank DAW tremendously for sending me an ARC. I finished it in four and a half hours, and hope to have book two soon because it left off on a terrible cliffhanger. I’m giving this book a well deserved 5/5 stars, and crossing my fingers that book two comes out soon!
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Worldshaper by Edward Willett is the first book in his new Worldshapers series. The description above tells it all on how this story starts off: For Shawna Keys, the world is almost perfect. She's just opened a pottery studio in a beautiful city. She's in love with a wonderful man. She has good friends. But in a moment’s notice, everything in her world literally changes.  She and those surrounding her brutally attacked, and a strange man points a gun at her to kill her.  In Shawna’s mind she screams in terror “this can’t be happening…it can’t be happening”.  Within a second, she has turned the clock back hours to early morning before the attack; but those who got killed, including her best friend, just disappeared, no longer existing.  What just happened?  How did Shawna move the clock back?

Shawna turns to someone she just met, Karl, who has been trying to help Shawna remember her past, when she was trained to be a worldshaper.  Karl explains that Shawna created this world she lives in to be perfect, and all those surrounding her are fact her own creations.  The man who attacked is out to kill her, and kidnap Karl, in order to take over this world, and move on to other worlds so that he may rule them all…he is called Adversary. 

Karl convinces Shawna she must leave with him to find a portal for another world, because Adversary is shaping those in her world’s minds to think that she is a terrorist.  Together they are on the run.  What follows is an exciting adventure where Shawna with help from Karl, will learn how to use the powers she has to shape things on her own, since she remembers nothing from where it all began.

I thought Worldshaper was a good storyline, and very different than most fantasies that I have read.  I did have some mixed feelings, as there were slow and somewhat redundant parts.  I realize that most first books in fantasies give a lot of details in their worldbuilding, though I found it interesting, it did lose me a bit along the way. Worldshaper did catch my attention, and I intend to read the next book to see where this will go.
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