Book Review: Shattering the Ley

Amazon Cover - Shattering the Ley

Book Cover from Amazon


Shattering the Ley by Joshua Palmatier

First book in Joshua Palmatier’s new epic fantasy trilogy, set in a sprawling city of light and magic fueled by a ley line network.

Erenthrall—sprawling city of light and magic, whose streets are packed with traders from a dozen lands and whose buildings and towers are grown and shaped in the space of a day.

At the heart of the city is the Nexus, the hub of a magical ley line system that powers Erenthrall. This ley line also links the city and the Baronial plains to rest of the continent and the world beyond. The Prime Wielders control the Nexus with secrecy and lies, but it is the Baron who controls the Wielders. The Baron also controls the rest of the Baronies through a web of brutal intimidation enforced by his bloodthirsty guardsmen and unnatural assassins.

When the rebel Kormanley seek to destroy the ley system and the Baron’s chokehold, two people find themselves caught in the chaos that sweeps through Erenthrall and threatens the entire world: Kara Tremain, a young Wielder coming into her power, who discovers the forbidden truth behind the magic that powers the ley lines; and Alan Garrett, a recruit in the Baron’s guard, who learns that the city holds more mysteries and more danger than he could possibly have imagined . . . and who holds a secret within himself that could mean Erenthrall’s destruction — or its salvation.



A solid fantasy story, sort of in the “epic” variety in that it has multiple points-of-views (POVs),  following a political situation. But also has strong romantic elements, several coming-of-age storylines, start-for-a-series worldbuilding, and some kicking sword and fist fights.

Not of the standard “epic” in that there are no orcs and elves, and the magic – while wieldable by individuals – is treated by this society more like electricity and the “mages” come to your house to fix the stove while the stronger mages fix the power lines – or in this case the ley lines. In some ways this ends up feeling more science-fiction in a historic setting than a fantasy (similar to a steampunk vibe). I guess that is why I enjoyed it so much.

We first meet the POV major characters in their childhood – Justin is 8, Kara is 12, and Allen is 16. The book has many chapters divided among five parts – these five parts read like mini-books and have two major skips through time – one of four years and one of twelve years – so at the end of the book Justin is 24, Kara is 28, and Allen is 32. One or two timing issues made me go “er”, but did not impact the story at all. For example not exactly certain what Cory’s age is at the beginning of the book. Not that it matters since he isn’t a primary POV character, although he does have a couple short POV moments.

Overall a good way to spend a few days.

Addition: With the second book out (Threading the Needle), I think it is okay to mention this is the first book of an apocalyptic story within a fantasy setting. Ecological magic-based disaster. And by apocalypse, I don’t mean the more common post-apocalypse where you see the survivors ten or twenty years or even hundreds of years after the disaster. No, this book is about the apocalypse – the destruction of civilization. Characters die – POV characters, both minor and major, die. Ones you like. Ones you don’t like. Ones you have bonded with over the course of the book. You feel the loss. Great writing.

Future books of the series hopefully will not be as emotionally draining as the last two parts of this book.