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Shadowslayers is the name of a fantasy novel by Charlie Martin. Published in April 2006 by Port Town Publishing, the novel is set in the imaginary world of Niiran, and specifically focuses on the largest kingdom of that world, the empire or Blackwood.
The story follows a plot that very much resembles the ending acts of Beowulf and The Hobbit. A pair of characters steals an artifact from a powerful dragon’s horde, and the dragon goes on a rampage, destroying many human villages in the process. While most fantasy epics use this string of events as their final act, Shadowslayers uses it as a beginning, and then delves into the motivations of the dragon and those who fight against him.
Shadowslayers was written as part of NaNoWriMo in 2004. The author, Charlie Martin, heard about the contest early in the month and crafted the tale to help him get over his writer’s block. After the story was finished, it spent three months collecting dust while Martin worked on his as yet unpublished novel Reality Check. Finally, Martin went back to the manuscript and made significant revisions, adding 7,000 words and overhauling the ending. It was accepted for publication by Port Town Publishing in December 2005 and subsequently released in April 2006. The actual release date, April 1, 2006, coincided with the 51st birthday of Martin’s mother, Patricia Brooks, to whom the novel is dedicated.
While relatively light for a fantasy novel at only 186 pages, the story presents a rather detailed setting, focusing specifically on the Roman Empire-esque Blackwood and the complex mythology of Niiran. The world itself served as the setting for several fantasy role-playing games run by Martin, including campaigns in the Dungeons & Dragons and Big Eyes, Small Mouth systems.
Legends tell of the coming of the dragon-god Derrezen, a monster powerful enough to crush all of humanity beneath his claws. The forgotten child of Niiran’s goddess Ameterra, he has spent centuries in an arcane prison. But now he has awakened, driven by hatred and intent on recreating the world in his image. Only the combined efforts of two powerful wizards have protected the human empire of Blackwood until now. But when one of them finally falls in battle, the realm is more vulnerable than ever before.
Kajeel Shadowslayer awakens in the realm of the afterlife, the wounds from her final fatal battle with Derrezen still fresh. She must journey into her own past to seek a weapon stronger than magic that can finally stop the Dragon’s rampage. But can even Blackwood’s greatest sorceress breach the boundaries of death itself?
Kajeel’s husband Garyl stands as the empire’s last chance against its oldest foe. Cursed long ago for unspeakable crimes, Garyl’s decades-long search for redemption may be reaching its end. But first he must set aside his grief and meet the Dragon head on – a battle that he knows he will ultimately lose. The two Shadowslayers must reach beyond the borders of life and death, past and present, and ultimately must sacrifice that which is most dear to them in order to succeed. The final emotional struggle will determine not only the fate of Blackwood, but of the entire world of Niiran.