Throwback Thursday: Michael Cobley’s SHADOWKINGS series

Today, we wanted to draw your attention to Michael Cobley‘s first series, the grimdark fantasy Shadowkings trilogy: SHADOWKINGS, SHADOWGODS and SHADOWMASQUE. The trilogy is still available widely in eBook in English and German, and various rights are available (please get in touch if you have any questions).

The novels were published before the grimdark wave came to dominate the fantasy genre (albeit relatively briefly), and was published in the UK by Earthlight, between 2001-5. Here’s the synopsis for the first novel…

For one thousand bright and fortunate years the Khatrimantine Empire had guaranteed peace and benevolence. Then came the vast hordes of the Mogaun, driven by an evil deity, the Lord of Twilight, corrupter and devourer. At the very pinnacle of his triumph, the Lord of Twilight made a fatal mistake, shattering his essence into five parts: five lost souls destined to become the Shadowkings. Now, sixteen years after the invasion, Mogaun warlords and petty despots squabble amid the ruins. Yet ancient powers are stirring and the Empire’s last valiant defenders are gathering their strength, hoping that one decisive strike can reverse their long, bleak decline.

The covers at the top of this piece are for the current eBook editions of the trilogy, available through the JABberwocky eBook Program. Here are the original covers…

The series was well-received on publication, and here are just a few of the reviews the series has enjoyed…

‘A pacey action and adventure story, packed with battles, rescues and political double-dealing… a refreshing and believable take on the Fight Against Insurmountable Evil Foes sub-genre, without dispensing with any of the familiar staples that make the genre what it is.’ Infinity Plus on SHADOWKINGS

‘Impressively unpleasant first fantasy novel… If it were not for its unrelenting bleakness, Shadowkings would be a fairly standard story of apocalyptic evil and heroic good–Cobley has a sense, however, of how bad a battlefield or a ruined town smells, and his dark magic is appropriately sinister.’ Roz Kaveney on SHADOWKINGS

SHADOWKINGS, was brutal, cruel and realistic in a way genre usually avoids. SHADOWGOD, his second, is not only lighter, it is better written and makes good use of the world Cobley has created… writing to rival David Gemmell.’Guardian (Jon Courtenay-Grimwood)

‘Unconventional high fantasy trilogy… [Cobley] has taken traditional sword and sorcery to some new and perhaps uncomfortable places… Once again Mike has succeeded in producing an unusually dark and claustrophobic piece of work, though it is a lot less bleak than its predecessors. It is also a lot less convoluted with the battle lines more clearly drawn.’ Infinity Plus on SHADOWMASQUE

‘[Cobley] drew the characters with verve and style, encouraging the reader to participate in the story he was unfolding. The plot was complex but clearly spun out, providing tantalising teasers at the end of each episode, which made me want to skip ahead to the next time that particular thread was picked up and woven. In my opinion, a clear winner for Michael Cobley.’ SF Crowsnest on SHADOWMASQUE

The series has also been published by Heyne in Germany. Here are the covers…

Michael Cobley is also the author of the critically-acclaimed Humanity’s Fire series, which includes the trilogy SEEDS OF EARTH, THE ORPHANED WORLDS and THE ASCENDANT STARS, and the stand-alone ANCESTRAL MACHINES. All four novels are published by Orbit Books in the UK and US, and Heyne in Germany.

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