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Publisher's Summary

Epic fantasy filled to the brim with grimdark reality.

If one looks too long into the abyss, the abyss looks back. Drangar Ralgon has been avoiding the abyss's gaze for far too long and now he turns to face it.

For 100 years the young kingdom of Danastaer has thrived in peace. Now their northern neighbor, mighty Chanastardh, has begun a cunning invasion.

Thrust into events far beyond his control, the mercenary Drangar Ralgon flees his solitary life as a shepherd to evade the coming war and take responsibility for his crimes.

In Dunthiochagh, Danastaer's oldest city, the holy warrior Kildanor uncovers the enemy's plans for invasion.

As ancient forces reach forth to shape the world once more, the sorceress Ealisaid wakes from a century of hibernation only to realize the Dunthiochagh she knew is no more. Magic, believed long gone, returns, and with it comes an elven wizard sent to recover a dangerous secret.

©2018 Ulff Lehmann (P)2020 David N. Wilson

Critic Reviews

Shattered Dreams is a rich, layered high fantasy, the beginning of an epic that will be well worth following for years to come. Looming menace, thoughtful world-building; a winner! (Ed Greenwood - New York Times best-selling fantasy writer)

What listeners say about Shattered Dreams

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  • Mark Mackey
  • 01-06-2020

Shattered Dreams Light in the Dark, Book 1 review

I really enjoyed this. With unique characters and spectacular writing, this book had me hooked from beginning to end. For these reasons I’ll continue to read future books by this author.

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  • Daniel
  • 23-05-2020

A good twist to a classic genre.

I rarely write reviews, as I am terrible at keeping spoilers out of them but feel this story and its creator deserve a glass raised and respectful nod.

It is always a pleasure to discover a new talented author. Nowadays when searching for a good fantasy book one finds his or herself sifting through so much recycled content. Once in a while you come across a true gem. I have always enjoyed high fantasy and while I do enjoy classic Tolkien inspired characters it is a pleasure to read a book without the two dimensional paragons of virtue you find in most books.
Ulff Lehman has begun carving out a niche in a tired genre. This book certainly displays a love for some of the classic elements of High Fantasy with a realism to his characters that one rarely finds, the people and non people have flaws and virtues mixed in a way you could find in real life. The world he has built has alot of history and promises so much more in his future books.
The author doesnt take himself too seriously and isn't afraid to play with ideas, a rare treat as I did not find myself guessing the next scene in the story as often seems to happen with new fantasy books. Lehman's mind is unique both lighthearted and a little dark at times, I look forward to seeing this world and story unfold in many books to come.

The story is well read, some of the voices could have been a little more defined but that is hard to do. Richards did a great job his tone and tempo perfect throughout all but the first couple of scenes with very few noticeable edits.

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  • Amy Lopez
  • 06-04-2021

Great book!!!

The story telling was very Game Of Thrones’ish. It was fun start to finish! Worth every penny.

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  • Brian
  • 06-07-2020

A Grimdark Epic Fantasy Tale

As with most epic fantasy novels, the world building in Shattered Dreams is great. A lot of time and energy is spent on this and it shows. Lehmann is able to build up this world that feels real and believable. It feels lived in and like it’s been there for eons. Sometimes this can be overdone in books like this, but I think that Lehmann was able to do it just enough.

Characters also play a huge role in epic fantasies, and there are usually a lot of them. Thankfully, the narration and overall writing style from Lehmann allows this one to not get lost in the different characters. Each one feels different and unique and almost all of them feel like they’re adding to the story.

There were a few times when reading this that I felt lost or like Lehmann was going on to fill more pages – but far less than I expected going into it. There were a few scenes that after pages and pages of description and back and forth – the payoff was worth it. And there were a few times that it wasn’t. I won’t go into details since that would spoil certain moments, but I think that the good outweighs the bad here.

Gareth Richards does a really nice job with this book. As with any epic fantasy there is always a lot to confuse the reader – but Richards is able to keep the reader interested and not confused. His narration adds to this story and really makes the 18 hours seem to fly by. One of the biggest benefits of listening to epic fantasy audiobooks is that you don’t have to guess how to say words like Dunthiochagh, Danastaer, and Ealisaid. Richards just says them and you move on.

Overall, an enjoyable grimdark epic fantasy. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book similar to this, but I definitely enjoyed it. It had this sort of edge to it that I wasn’t expecting, but it made it unique and interesting. It wasn’t a perfect book but those are hard to come by. It’s good moments definitely outweighed the few issues I had with it personally.

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  • Cindy
  • 03-07-2020

Busy, Busy

I tried very hard to get into this story. It kept changing characters with each chapter, making me go back and review thinking I missed something. It did come together eventually, but requires your full attention.
This author is new to me, but I see a great future.
Gareth Richards does awesome as narrator. His work is always impressive.
This audio was given to me free and I voluntarily gave this review.

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  • trufriends
  • 19-06-2020

overall

I liked the story, in this book Gareth narration fit. So overall the story was pretty good.

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  • C.T.
  • 03-06-2020

Awesome fantasy war story

SHATTERED DREAMS by Ulff Lehmann is a grimdark low fantasy epic which immediately draws comparisons to A Game of Thrones for the fact it is a multi-perspective view on an invasion of a Medieval country by its northern neighbors. It deals with the supernatural, politics, and violence in a non-romanticized way which works well for bringing about this is a gritty world where people are killed for trivial reasons. One of the best moments of the book is at the start when there's a casual murder in the street and no one dares lift a finger.

The short version of the plot, which is a bit of an oxymoron given this is an epic, is the kingdom of Danastaer is being invaded by Chanastardh. The latter already has a huge advantage in terms of soldiers and resources but they've also gained a new, seemingly insurmountable one, in magic. This despite the fact magic has been missing for a long time. Five individuals follow this invasion from their perspective.

Mercenary Drangar Ralgon is forced out of self-imposed exile even though he is suffering from severe mental trauma due to an incident where he committed a terrible crime. The holy warrior Kildanor, meanwhile, tries to find the enemies' plans so he can deduce how to stop this dreadful invasion. The sorceress Ealisaid awakens from magical hibernation to find a world where culture has been virtually wiped out and replaced by brutish warlords. The politically savvy Anne struggles to protect her family's position when the rule of law takes a backseat to practicality. Finally, the elf Lloreanthoran is sent by his people to recover a cursed book.

The biggest criticism I have for the book is it switches around a great deal and deals with a lot of plot threads that get left to future books to resolve. I can't help but think the book might have been improved if it had stuck with a somewhat smaller cast of individuals or even followed a single perspective per book. Drangar's story was the most interesting to me and the most traditionally "grimdark" as it dealt with a soldier suffering PTSD before it was ever diagnosed in a society that reveres violence. It's pretty far removed from an elf seeking a cursed magical book while he chats with his talking squirrel Bright Eyes (who is awesome, BTW). The book also stops at the end versus resolving most of its plot points and ends on a cliffhanger.

The book also suffers a bit from the naming conventions issue which plague some fantasy novels. Keeping straight an entire new world and all of its terminology as well as characters is a hard task, especially when you have so many like Ulff Lehmann's new world. This is a book which would have benefited from a glossary at the start or, again, easing the reader into things. Instead, it dumps you right in the middle of things and lets you play catch up. Then again, maybe it's me as it took me three reads to get A Game of Thrones mastered. I may just have the attention span of...hey, what's that!

With my criticism out of the way, I have to say I really like Ulff Lehmann's writing style. There's about four or five interesting books spread across Shattered Dreams and all of them are interesting. He has a way of taking high fantasy concepts like elves, archwizards, and world-ending threats then treating them in the most gritty unromantic manner possible. This is a world where wizard fireballs may fly at people but it will describe people burning to death followed by their ashen corpses getting trodden on by the invaders they failed to stop.

The handling of religion in the world is also something I was really interested in as we have several mutually contradictory but true faiths in the setting. There's no real substitute Catholic Church in the setting but "civilized" worship and the more wild pagan warrior cults which Kildanor is a part of yet have no real place in modern society--at least until things start to go to hell. I would have read a book entirely about them.

I also want to praise Ulff Lehmann's handling of Medieval combat and action scenes. The battles are brutal and bloody with a keen eye to detail. This isn't a place where people have long sword-fights but a person is struck then is either wounded (and probably bleeding out) or dead. He also actually has people surrender, which is something that I think way too few fantasy novels bother with. Way too many characters in fantasy are fanatics for their causes.

In conclusion, I recommend listening to Shattered Dreams. The good news is it's a very interesting doorstopper (doorlistener?) and I want to find out what happens to everyone.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 18-09-2020

hard to digest

I'm sorry, I could not get into this story. I gave it the "old college" try up to chapter 17. I found the narrator irritating.
I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

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  • Pedro
  • 14-05-2020

Dark Epic Fantasy!

Shattered Dreams is the first part of Ulff Lehmann’s epic fantasy series ‘Light in the Dark’. Full of dark characters, an intriguing storyline and will make you want more!

1 person found this helpful

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