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“The more I read, the more I acquire, the more certain I am that I know nothing.”
― Voltaire

Shadow Blade - Seressia Glass First book report card:Creativity: above average. Ancient Egyptian and general anthropology knowledge is a bonus.Magical system: above average. Based partly on relationships with Egyptian deities, with nary a werewolf in sight. Female heroine: above average. Slightly Mary Sue in physical abilities, I suggest meeting with counseling regarding emotional issues. Pacing: needs focus on balancing action with investigation, flashbacks and information-sharing.Plotting: acceptable. Light versus Shadow plot shows signs of tropism, so will bear watching. Attitude: acceptable. While there is some tendency towards self-pity, it is a relief to not have minimal snark or witticisms while facing conflict.Language: needs work, particularly in dialogue with a 4,000 year old character that sounds inconsistently like a twenty-year old AmericanRelationships: Able to focus on issues at hand and not be unduly distracted by male physique, however, has tragic first-love backstory. Kissing appropriately put on hold to save humanity. Attire: above average. Does not focus on midriff tops or high heeled boots.After awhile, parts of the UF/ paranormal fantasy start to look remarkably similar. Shadow Blade stood out for me with an interesting underlying magical system, willingness to flaunt convention--at least in the first book--and well-developed multi-culti characters, without making a deal about it. (As a complete aside, one review I read commented on how odd it was that everyone was 'black,' or at least, non-white, and they didn't think that was very realistic in an American city. I will now pause to let city-people roll their eyes). Seriously, it is nice to read a UF that doesn't focus on the scrappy white chick character. Side characters are mixed; some get a chance to shine, like Mr. Nansee, while others are lacking the chance to distinguish themselves. His scene making breakfast was priceless ("and that apron? Yeah, that strains my brain a bit") and I admit I might have smiled at the thought of him rousing people on the subway. I also rather like the morally ambiguous psychic vampire; he has a developed essence of creepy/skeevy where you aren't sure if he's dangerous or just needs a slap with a sexual harassment lawsuit. At times the writing is able to convey the alienation and age of Khefar, the four millennia old Nubian, and at times he is surprisingly and perhaps inappropriately modern. I will say that despite inconsistency, Glass is able to better convey age than Hearne with the Iron Druid series. Shadow Blade does suffer a little from first-book syndrome, that collection of symptoms that so many series-intent authors are prone to develop. Those tantalizing hints at past issues, more tantalizing hints at future issues ("made a mental note to check that out when she had time"), the excessive explaining of self-evident decisions ("The sooner she got back to the scene of the crime, the more likely the chances she'd find some sort of lead").I suspect a few of my problems come indirectly from the author's background in romance novels. Here's hoping she can individualize the conflict and romance so it doesn't have the whiff of cardboard about it.Overall, it was reasonably enjoyable. In my UF scale, it rates above Chicagoland Vampires, and below Kate Daniels. I've already borrowed the sequel from the library, so I look forward to seeing if the series grows.Cross posted at http://clsiewert.wordpress.com/2013/02/04/shadow-blade-shadowchasers-1-by-seressia-glass-or-a-uf-report-card/