Cover Image: Quantum Shadows

Quantum Shadows

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I've written a number of capsule reviews of L.E. Modesitt, Jr's fantasy novels, primarily in the Recluce and Imager settings. I frequently note how reading Modesitt is pure comfort and that while I generally know almost exactly what I'm going to get, it is that perfectly set expectation meeting execution that brings me coming back again and again for more. By now I've read thirty of his fantasy novels, but none of his science fiction work. Having read his fantasy across three series, I was confident I knew what I was getting into and was prepared for the science fiction version of his fantasy work. Readers, for perhaps the first time in thirty novels, my expectations were not met.

Quantum Shadows read like an unpolished draft of one of Modesitt's fantasy novels, though within a science fiction setting. I could not have been more disappointed. Perhaps it was that my expectations were misaligned with the story Modesitt intended to tell, but I simply bounced hard off of Quantum Shadows. Perhaps readers more familiar with his science fiction would find something to love here, but the writing was far more awkward and stiff than Modesitt tends to deliver with his fantasy. Quantum Shadows doesn't stand up to Modesitt's fantasy and it certainly doesn't stand up to the best of science fiction being written today.
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This book took me so long to read. So long to read.

I started it before it came out. I got a copy from Netgalley and was interested in it because I’d never read Modesitt before and wanted to see if he was an author I could get into. A standalone seemed like a good place to start.

The summary was what really drew me in:

"On a world called Heaven, the ten major religions of mankind each have its own land governed by a capital city and ruled by a Hegemon. That Hegemon may be a god, or a prophet of a god. Smaller religions have their own towns or villages of belief.

"Corvyn, known as the Shadow of the Raven, contains the collective memory of humanity’s Falls from Grace. With this knowledge comes enormous power.

"When unknown power burns a mysterious black image into the holy place of each House of the Decalivre, Corvyn must discover what entity could possibly have that much power. The stakes are nothing less than another Fall, and if he doesn’t stop it, mankind will not rise from the ashes."

This book dragged so much. Corvyn starts off his journey to find out who is burning symbols into sacred relics, and we get a step-by-step account. The first half is him on his little bike traveling to another village or city, checking in to an inn, asking where to get the best food, him going to to eat food with detailed descriptions of said food, him going to the nearest religious building, him seeing the symbol burned into a relic, him being chased out, him getting back on his little bike, and on we go again.

So tedious.

The second half gets little more action, and we get more information on who is doing this. Honestly, by thing I got to the part about who and why this was happening, I didn’t much care anymore. In order to finish this book, I had to switch to audio and even then I caught myself zoning out.

As Corvyn goes from village to village, Modesitt peppers in little references to each religion and I’m sure it’s super interesting to someone with a wide knowledge of world religions, but a lot of it just flew over my head. While I was reading on Kindle, I would use the Wiki feature to get the connections, but once I switched to audio I just let the references slide on past. I’m sure I only got half of what he was trying to convey.

It came across very “I took a comparative religions class and wanted to shove as many references as possible into a book” to me, and that took away from my overall enjoyment.

I rated this book 2.5 stars on Goodreads, but the more I think about it the more I want to knock that half star off. If you like extreme detail and books where you have to take the time to look up references, this is for you.. If you’re looking for a simple read, maybe skip this one.
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Great premise: In Heaven, an actual place, not the mystical afterlife, the major religions of mankind each have their own land governed by a capital city and ruled by a hegemon. Corvyn, known as the Shadow of the Raven, alone retains the memory of humanity’s Falls from Grace. Falls, as it happened more than once, and now, despite elaborate institutions to preserve harmony and stability, something has gone awry. The symbol of a trident has been found burned into the holy places of the various lands, and Corvyn embarks upon a quest to find out who has defiled these places. And why.

That’s the good part. Also the effortlessly competent prose and descriptive inventiveness. The not-so-good part is that Corvyn’s quest is so leisurely as to approximate sleepwalking, except for the endless (although beautifully described) scenery, inns, meals, wines, and various otherwise-insignificant characters he encounters. Except for a very few high points, the story is utterly lacking in dramatic tension or shape. It’s an enjoyable peregrination, to be sure, one I especially enjoyed relaxing with at bedtime, but I could not help thinking the whole thing could have been cut down to the length of a short story and not an overly bulky novel.
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this novel took way too long to take off for me - I was still trying to figure things out past the halfway mark - but I guess the MC’s penchant for good food and drink and the random philosophising kept me engaged enough to want to continue onwards. It did remind me a wee bit of Zelazny’s Lord of Light with all the anthropomorphism going on though of course the feel and application is obviously different. For me at least, once it all “fell into place”, it was worth getting to the end - though it probably lacked the level of reader satisfaction that I wanted going into it.
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I guess you could imagine this book being where all Gods are even and then how those Gods interact with a limited number of humans on another planet.

Corvyn is the Raven of the Shadows a near-immortal God who rules in the land of the skeptics. When a powerful trident engraving defaced his temple he goes to find who might have placed it there.

We are then taken on a food blogger's journey all through the land of Heaven. I wish he spent more time talking about why and not what he ate.
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Modesitt challenges again!

I must admit this was heavy going until I got into the flow. I really wanted to love this--in the end I did. Enter a world where the major religions are confined to ten houses, with a few gods on the side who could become more depending on the added impetus of believers. (This idea I've met before.) A world  where when things become out of balance a major catastrophe or 'the fall' could happen.
Something is afoot in Heaven. A symbol of a Trident, dark etched, has appeared branded into places where it shouldn't be able to, a disruption in a tightly balanced world. 
Corvyn's task is to monitor the situation. A figure wrapped in shadows, able to weave and bend them to his will. (We've seen others in Modesitt's works do this). Corvyn's investigations take him throughout the ten houses.
Philosophical and religious thoughts form part of the background and as ever food and wine play a part, as Corvyn revisits favoured inns and restaurants, places that haven't seen him for many years.
As always I'm fascinated by Modesitt's ability to construct worlds and their belief systems. I place this novel alongside those that I find interesting and raised questions that have value.
Corvyn, and his electrobike, and black stedora always so carefully placed is an interesting character. My mind just couldn't resist going to those figures like the four horseman of the acopolypse, only more urban fantastical. I'm sure there's many more but they're lingering on the edge of my consciousness at the moment refusing to fully form.
Corvyn's commentary on the various houses and their peculiarities are as concise as they are cutting. 
The story is dotted with references religious and mythological. I needed Wikipedia by my side to recall some. Like for example the significance of Ravens as messengers between heaven and earth, birds of prophecy and insight, connectors between the spirit world and the physical world prompting sometimes darkness and at other times a mysterious force when there's a need to reflect on actions.
Well all that works for me within this story, although maybe Corvyn's more an angel of judgement and balance.
Whatever, once again there's acres of images to reflect on and dots to join in this rather more challenging read.

A Macmillan-Tor/Forge ARC via NetGalley 
(Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.)
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2 stars, Metaphorosis Reviews 
Mankind has Fallen many times before, and Corvyn, a mysteriously powerful man, may be one of the few who remembers - and works as hard as he can to prevent another Fall. When a mysterious trident symbol appears, burned into the walls of the world's religious sanctums, Corvyn travels the world to discover what's behind it. 
Looking for a pastiche of Roger Zelazny stories? Take equal parts Amber, Lord of Light, Jack of Shadows, and Creatures of Light and Darkness, and blend well together. Add a dash of Recluce, and serve lukewarm.
To be fair, L.E. Modesitt has written his own stories about gods and superstition, touching on the subjects in – at the least – Timegod and The Parafaith War, so this story isn’t exactly foreign territory. But the extent to which he appears to draw on Zelazny is striking – from the protagonist’s name (Corvyn to Zelazny’s Corwin), to his power with shadows (see Jack of Shadows), to the backstory (Lord of Light, Creatures of Light and Darkness). Modesitt is generally inventive enough to hold his own, but I wasn’t more than a few pages into this book before I decided it was either homage to Zelazny or a blatant rip-off. By the end, I still wasn’t sure which.
Originality aside, the story has substantial drawbacks. Most of it is a travelogue among cities and ‘villages of belief’, which are essentially competing religious communities based on Earth beliefs. The surface the action takes place on is only vaguely described. For most of the book, I assumed it was an orbital, but there are suggestions it’s a planet – which is problematic, since Corvyn travels around most of it on a moped. A map would have helped. The backstory for the whole book is only vaguely hinted it, which is a shame, because it’s the strongest part of the book, and is only revealed – largely in passing – at the end. The Goodreads blurb for this book has more structural info than the book itself does.
There’s a lot that’s vaguely hinted at, and in fact the bulk of the book consists of a) travelogue, b) menu description (Corvyn eats in detail), and c) vague hints. Even when the hints are resolved, it tends to be in casual mentions. It’s doesn’t come across as subtlety and understatement so much as the author forgetting that this is an Important Reveal that the book has been Leading Up To. Every statement is hedged and so much information is intentionally withheld that it becomes frustrating to read, especially when the reveal is passed by without notice. Modesitt gets so carried away with this withholding that he forgets to provide us with adequate context, occasionally bringing in actors we don’t know of.
There’s also, unfortunately, a good deal of the repetition that has plagued recent Modesitt books. Just as in the latest Recluce books, we hear over and over again about the rarity of mage healers, in this book, Corvyn hands over his ID card to the same comments, over and over and over. He spends much of the book discussing broad philosophy with one religious leader after another, to no apparent purpose. It’s like a series of freshman seminars with no guiding purpose. By the halfway point, the book had become tedious, and soon after, I’d become quite tired of it. It was difficult to finish. A bonus, I suppose, is that – apart from books I already have, I think I’m finished with Modesitt as well.
If you’re really, really a fan of Modesitt’s recent books, you may enjoy this. But if you’re looking for Zelazny’s voice and ideas… read Zelazny.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.
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Quantum Shadows is the latest novel from L.E. Modesitt Jr., and you just know that it's going to be a book full to the brim of science fiction and so much more.

Heaven is a world – a true world. In this world, there exist ten religions. It gets just about as complex as one might expect – gods, Hegemon, capital cities, and rules for each and every one of the major ten.

Corvyn is from this very world, and it's his job to contain some of the most important memories belonging to humankind. The sort required to prevent then from repeating history. Naturally, that means they're about to be thrown into a quest to save humanity.

I'm going to be upfront with you here. Normally I try to avoid science fiction or fantasy novels that are this full of religion. It's just not my cup of tea. Yet because it was L.E. Modesitt Jr. that wrote this novel, I felt compelled to give it a chance.

Maybe it's because of that bias that I found myself not loving this novel as much as I would have hoped, or liked. Still, I did enjoy it more than I expected, so that balanced out pretty nicely in my book.

You can really see Modesitt's philosophy background shining through here, and that was really fascinating to see. Still, this book is not like any of the others I've read by him, so consider yourself warned on that front.

I enjoyed being able to see something different and unique, both in this genre and from the author. I know I didn't end up loving it, but I still found the journey to be interesting. The concept behind Corvyn's character (and the job/burden they carried) was fascinating enough to have had me read the whole thing, and with good reason.
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A brilliant novel I couldn't put down. I love this author and had high expectations, I'm happy to say I wasn't disappointed.
Great world building, fascinating characters and a plot that kept me hooked.
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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This was vastly different from what I was expecting of a Modesitt book. I have to admit,  it took me a bit to get into it, but I think that's due to expectations. So I paused the book, and came back to it after was able to open my mind up for an experience that I wasn't prepared for when I first started. That seemed to make a world of difference. The writing still had his typical philosophical undertones, which I greatly appreciated. I like when a book makes me think and see things from other perspectives, 

Quantum shadows isn't a Sci Fi, it's a Science Fantasy, so know that going in. That's clear from the synopsis, yet I know there are others like me that don't always read the synopsis lol. I thought the world building was fantastic, and  I was totally invested in Corvyn.

I don't know if this will be a good fit for people that are new to Science Fiction, but I do think that people who like Modesitt will, as long as they are prepared for the fact that it NOT a book like any other book hes' written ;) 

Thank you Netgalley and Tor books for the e-galley and opportunity to share my thoughts.
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Tor Books and NetGalley provided me with an electronic copy of Quantum Shadows.  I voluntarily chose to review this book and my opinion is freely given.

The world, Heaven, is full of the Gods, everyone who the people worship.  If a God makes a mistake, they get erased and have to begin again.  The main character, Corvyn, has been through humanity's many Falls from Grace and wants to be sure that the world stays intact.  After a black image is burned onto a wall by an unknown, it is up to Corvyn to stop it from triggering the next Fall.

The novel is an allegory- people need to listen to each other and let everyone be.  This look at current society through the lens of science fiction is meant to make the reader think.  Those looking for science fiction action should look elsewhere, as there is definitely more scenes involving brain power than muscles.  There is a limited plot and little storytelling, making Quantum Shadows not one of this veteran author's best.
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This book was fantastic.  Not entirely sure what was happening during most of it - it's more like a philosophical and anthropological journey 'through the lands & restaurants' of Helios but I still loved it.  The world-building is superb and I was completely invested in Corven, who may or may not be a good guy.  Much like Rosewater - was immersed and carried along in a melt-water of superb writing & imagination on fire.  5 stars.

Thank you to the author, publisher and Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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This was another great L.E. Modesitt Jr. book for my keeper-shelf. I've read just about everything from this author and I have yet to be disappointed. Quantum Shadows continues along the lines of his other books in that it causes the reader to think about things from a different perspective, I really enjoyed the philosophical aspects of the storyline. As always, a very enjoyable read.

*I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this book provided by NetGalley*
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Fantasy disguised as science fiction

I was looking forward to reading this book as I had enjoyed previous Modesitt books. But I threw in the towel at around third of the way through the book. There was no character development, little action, and overly described scenes. This is a fantasy story cloaked as science fiction by calling a mystical power quantum shadowing. I didn’t hate the book. I didn’t find anything in what I read offensive or objectionable. I just found that I was unmotivated to turn to the next page and asked myself why I was continuing to read as the book was giving me very little. 
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book via Netgalley for review purposes.
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A truly engrossing and wonderful novel, as expected.  As always, I curled up and quickly forgot about the world around me.  My husband actually snatched my phone away so I would eat dinner.
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Corvyn is a powerful being, an independent conscience and policeman protecting a world called Heaven. The ten major human religions each have their own land governed by a Hegemon, sometimes a god or a prophet of a god. 

Some unknown power burns the image of a trident into Corvyns home and he tours the ten countries on a detective mission to find out which entity is behind that Menetekel. He's lived through apocalypses in the past and fears that another one is dooming.

Despite the author's enormously prolific, I never read anything from him and wanted to get a standalone entry before digging into his Saga of Recluse or one of his other well-known series.

I found it extremely difficult to get into a reading flow which I never achieved throughout the book. Usually, literary SF like Gene Wolfe or Harlan Ellison is no challenge for me, but in this case the prose was overwrought at times. Every of the ten towns follows a similar pattern with an explicit description of the chosen hotel, a longer treatise of chosing a meal and ordering wine followed by magical eavesdropping of the other guests before going to sleep and visiting the power of the town on the next day.

Corvyn exploits considerable magic power with his shadow weaving, allowing him to travel through shadows, forging financial transactions and using it in his fights. He is an interesting character - intelligent in his philosophical discussions, outstanding in his taste, even cool with travelling his electromotor-bike. But I was never able to really connect to him and understood his motives only very late. 

Modesitt tries an interesting mixture of far future SF with some Quantum technologies, adding magic abilities and mythical gods. It was never successful and I didn't highlight any insights. After a while I nearly didn't care for this routine of dialectics anymore.

The last few chapters pulled up the action lever and in comparison felt rushed and unorganic. 

In summary, I found the novel not very convincing, it didn't grip me at all, and I can't recommend it.
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Quantum Shadows by L.E. Modesitt Jr.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I think I wanted to like this more than I did. I've never read anything else by Modesitt but I admit to seeing and thinking I OUGHT to have been reading the books.

So when I did see a new release in Netgalley, I fully jumped on the bandwagon.

What did I find?

A rough-going opening that was more concerned with term-wrangling and a detective game of trying to get a grip on character and what kind of tale this was going to be. When I finally realized that we were dealing with *fairly* normal story bones underneath philosophical, mythological, and especially religious (or meta-religious) settings, I eased into the story and enjoyed the interesting action and mystery aspects.

Getting there, however, made me feel like we were playing catch-up with a big nod to some other big SF names, but put on a particular Modesitt spin. ... So what do I mean? ... I get the feeling like we're stepping into a hard-SF godlike story that blends neatly into multi-religious meta-comparisons with walking embodiments everywhere.

In one way, I love this kind of thing. In another, it REALLY has to be done well or I feel kinda cheated.

I get the feeling like a number of devoted readers, probably fans, are going to get into this book in a really big way. I personally didn't feel the weight of the things that came before, though, so most of it was lost on me.

I didn't get hooked, but I saw some potential. I'm wondering if I ought to have started ANYWHERE else, first.
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Quantum Shadows By L. E. Modesitt, Jr
Modesitt is a philosopher.  He likes to explore decision making and reality checks.   This book does a snapshot of the world’s religions and beliefs and suggests a solution for equilibrium. 
I enjoy Modesitt’s work but I admit I read more for entertainment and enjoyment than enlightenment.  He frequently imbues his books with philosophic overtones but this was with a philosophic book with literary overtones.   
If you are a Modesitt fan, you should read this.  If you aren’t, this book won’t make you a fan unless you hold a degree in philosophy.
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