Shards (Strings Book 1)

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Characters are so incredibly interesting, the fantasy hooked me right away, and the world building is crazy good! View all 4 comments. May 31, Mitticus rated it really liked it Shelves: netgalley-arcs , magia , fantasia-epica , zreadings , magical-practitioners , hexed-cursed. Larin is an orphan who lives with his uncle, an old warrior gone down, in a city populated by gangs of thieves and thugs, and since he was little he has been singled out and ridiculed for his involuntary outbursts during which he shouts a phrase incomprehensible to the great majority For him this is a curse, but for those who understand it is an advocation or rather a promise to the Lord of demons -Haraf- who was expelled from those lands and who longs to return using his designated servant: Larin.

This is a solid epic fantasy, similar to others in the genre. I had some problems in getting into the subject between so much god and name change, but my concentration has not been the best these days. The power for magic comes from the Moon and it is called Spellgiver by the locals. Interesting and diferent is the lack of elves, dwarves, orcs and alike from anothers tolkien-ish epic fantasy books, so we have here, instead, another native species: one with six appendices , claws and pods, that were pushed aside by the humans wizards shocking, I know. You humans have changed everything.

Theralle moved its head up and down. The gods created your people for work, not for pain. It means there are some gods who care more about what you can produce than what misery you can cause. He was very glad Manek could not understand. In the other hand, Larin is an irritating protagonist, he only complains and complains throughout the story. Poor me, I do not have magic.

Poor me, I can not leave my protected sector. Poor me, I can not have friends. Poor me, my uncle does not understand me. It get worst with teen years, and the rising anger. So much anger. The story tells us about a war between deities, where humans and Lidathi are pawns. These gods are in another dimension and are brought to this by the prayers-devotions-spells of their magical priests. It seems that every certain amount of years there is a new attack with strong consequences. I think this about Larin feeling some empathy for this, it is well done, and that maybe the end of the prison is therefore somewhat confusing in whether it is good or bad.

Sure, that depending on who. The king entangled by pacts, and We have also an intelligent queen - go Relena! And an evil colorblind wizard, Emdarian, whom only lacks the moustache. The multifaced suspicious wizard is also an interesting character. I still think of a kind of devotees like the Took friar here. Morphat the sadistic god, who enjoys prolonging the pain of his human sacrifices.

Haraf the Demon Lord. Yeah, it got my attention more at the ending, so I hope to read the next book. Jul 13, Adam rated it really liked it. Note: This book is part of the SPFBO 4 competition, and its score has been graded on a different set of rules than the usual. This score might change over time as our team discusses which selections will move on to future rounds.

On the surface, the book is a coming-of-age tale that centers on a chosen slum-dwelling orphan trying to survive in a harsh city controlled by a creeping religious sect and a gang of Note: This book is part of the SPFBO 4 competition, and its score has been graded on a different set of rules than the usual.

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On the surface, the book is a coming-of-age tale that centers on a chosen slum-dwelling orphan trying to survive in a harsh city controlled by a creeping religious sect and a gang of petty thugs. Fans of worldbuilding will rejoice upon opening the book. Readers are immediately greeted with a four-page Chronos, detailing the history of this world dating back nearly 28, years. Dozens of important dates and events are listed, and as the story progressed, I realized that this entire history was important in unraveling some of the mysteries and motivations of its various rulers and races.

Book One of The Lost Shards Series

The book then treats us to two maps: one of the City of Aldive aka the City of Shards, where most of the book takes place , and another map of the Empire of Tanbar at large. As stated above, the further you allow yourself to be immersed in this world, the more you will get out of it. Every chapter in the book is preceded by some quote, lyric, or passage that greatly enhances the worldbuilding experience.

Thus far, before the narrative has a chance to start, the reader has been taught lessons in history, geography, and culture. This careful attention to detail does not relent for the entirety of the story. Rodgers writes with a sharp wit, crafting both humorous and scathing analogies while introducing several mysteries that piqued my interest early on. I must emphasize again that this is a very detailed world, and it is plain to see how much time the author spent developing its various eccentricities.

It is a world where the location of the moon the titular Spellgiver determines the strength of spells that mages can access. While the moon is at its Apex stage, the spell strength is strongest, but its position also can prevent access to certain areas of the continent. There are multiple sets of gods, including an ancient and immortal race known as the Carvers that brought magic to the world.

There is an evil Eldegod named Morphat that thrives on pain and human sacrifice that is somehow gaining in popularity across the human cities and beyond. Another god, Haraf of the of Demons, has been banished to a prison dimension and driven insane by its solitude. He seeks vengeance against the humans that imprisoned him. At its heart, this is a coming of age story that centers on Larin trying to survive his affliction in a thug-controlled ghetto of the City of Shards. Yet there are plenty of interesting twists that separate this story from others of its kind. There are several other notable aspects to the book that I admired.

Rodgers is skilled at crafting mysteries and revealing them at a generous pace, which felt gratifying and prevented the book from getting too dark. Even though there is substantial information to absorb and review, none of it feels extraneous, and it all has its place in furthering the story and its repercussions across the world.

Not just because of the blood-clowns, but they certainly helped the cause. Yes, there are blood-clowns. If I had been undecided at whether I was enjoying this story or not, there was no longer any question after I finished this chapter. That is probably the best endorsement I can give City of Shards: it made throw away my reading schedule because I wanted to find out what happens next.

And that is a rare feat indeed. Scores: 7. View 2 comments. Aug 13, Lukasz rated it really liked it Shelves: spfbo , self-published. Actual rating: 4. Call it a magical Tourette syndrome - he reacts to stress with uncontrollable, three-word outbursts. Being a laughingstock is no fun, but things get worse. Larin will have to play, unwillingly, an important role in this conflict. Raised in a four-block area of a slum known as a Wormpile by his junkie, warrior Actual rating: 4. Raised in a four-block area of a slum known as a Wormpile by his junkie, warrior-priest uncle, Akul, Larin lacks skills to face this kind of adversity.

He's a bookworm, not a hero. Alas, daydreaming and study will have to wait. Harnessing his magical powers and choosing the right path is more important. Happily, he has allies. Who wouldn't feel confident facing the evil gods in the company of a drug-addicted uncle, an alcoholic priestess and a haughty wizardress?

Rodgers plays with traditional fantasy tropes and refreshes them. Sure, Larin's journey is full of well-known elements monsters, magical powers ready to harness, treason , but it's also unpredictable, and nuanced. His possibilities vary between bad and worse - each choice he can make carries dark consequences. There's no way around it. Rodgers' heroes are flawed but believable. Making humans relatable is easy though. Making strange, ungodly creatures, like Lidathi, understandable is a much bigger achievement.

And it's done remarkably well. His efforts to understand humans and their emotions made me smile a few times. Here's what a Lidathi thinks about humans: Both humans and the Created ones had heads, necks, and faces, and both faces held sensor pods on the top and feeding orifices on the bottom. Yet the human sensor pods were three colors and used only for vision, with separate pods for hearing on the sides and a strange protuberance in the middle for sensing things Kemharak could only guess at.

ShRkC: Shard Rank Cutoff Prediction for Selective Search

Whereas, Kemharak's four bulbous pods were evenly spaced around his head, each functioning independently for vision or hearing. In addition, the human's vision pods never revealed its intent through color, as did his people's. It was as if the human creator had been drunk on the fermented fruits of the forest or was new to the act of creation.

In every physical way, his people were better designed. It's probably the most intriguing bond in the book. Also, the one that leads to a strong cliffhanger. The Empire of Treban feels real; there's some serious effort behind the realm's comprehensive history, politics and varied races. At times things get dense, but I never felt assaulted with info-dumping. Magic system is interesting and unique - to succeed in magic you need a natural talent, the correct pronunciation of a spell and the right phase of the huge moon, Spellgiver.

It propels the book through a wealth of plot twists. While there's no purplish prose here, it tends to be strongly descriptive in places. As you've already guessed, I enjoyed this book a lot. The sequel is on my kindle. I'll read it shortly. I encourage you to give this one a try. ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest review. City of Shards is a fantasy book that I wanted to love: a new world, misunderstood magic, and mysterious pasts.

I am in the minority, but I could not get into this book. I cannot pinpoint a reason for this: the writing is good and the premise is interesting, but I never connected with the story. Larin is an orphan that lives with his dr ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest review. Larin is an orphan that lives with his drug-addicted uncle with a mysterious past that rules a four-block area of the Wormpile; outside of this "safe-zone" gangs rule the streets.

Larin has a condition or curse where he yells out these mysterious words, and to protect him his uncle tries to hide him from everyone else. The world he lives in has a complex political structure and back history of religion, the latter of which was particularly interesting to me dragons! The world is exposed to the reader slowly, and is really meant to be a character-driven tale.

Much of the first quarter of the book is highlighting Larin's life growing up in relation to this affliction, and the overall worldbuilding is developed slowly around that. This is a slow-paced book, but that in and of itself isn't the reason for my apathy. I did wind up putting the book down to read something else, and after almost two weeks I just don't want to pick it up.

Life is too short for me to read something that I am not engaged in, but just because this book wasn't for me doesn't mean that it won't be for you if you enjoy high fantasy narratives with complex characters and backstory. Blog Twitter I was given an ARC by Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. We are introduced to Larin a young boy living in the worst part of town with his uncle who has a severe drug addiction but yet manages to be one the most awesome fighters the world has ever seen.

Larin suffers violent outburst in which he yells the same three words and this seems to be a great source of entertainment for the neighborhood's thugs and bullies. Larin has few friends and spends most his time reading I was given an ARC by Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Larin has few friends and spends most his time reading in the temple's library. Though his uncle Akul tries to protect him from the local thug Oarl and his gang Larin still ends up being the victim of many beatings.

As the story progresses we get to meet more characters such as Larin's friend Candro, his love interest Onie and an almost always drunk warrior priestess Trana. We also get to meet the emperor of Tanbar, Maldovin and his council of dukes. Maldovin seems to be a royal pain in the ass but ends being a quite likeable character. As the story develops we also get to meet the leader of the oncoming invasion Kemharak and his commanders who aren't human at all or even likeable when we first meet them.

I love the fact that all characters are well written. I can't say much more without giving away spoilers. The world Larin lives in is very interesting with all kinds of religions, creatures and magic. The author is an excellent worldbuilder so that's a huge plus for me. The creatures are also quite interesting some seem to be more like insects and others more like lizzards. There are some typical fantasy tropes when it comes to the grumpy uncle,orphan boy destined to save the world with a gang of friends but it didn't bother me at all.

The rich history and creatures made this book a very enjoyable read. And I was quite happy to see the second book is already out. Jun 10, Devann rated it it was ok Shelves: g-fantasy-high , ztower-teams-vi , c-arcs , znetgalley , sg-magic , 0-abandoned-series , star , a-young-adult.

Skip to a few weeks later and it was recommended to me by a friend who was absolutely raving about it! It's amazing! Six stars! So I figured I might as well give it a shot. Apparently I'm very much in the minority here, but I just could not get into it. The writing is good from a technical standpoint so don't worry about that, but I was just really bored by the world and the characters. Honestly I think it kind of went downhill right from the start because it opens with a timeline spanning several pages and several thousand years so I was immediately like 'oh god what did I get myself into'.

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After promptly skipping that [I know, but honestly who can retain information from a timeline] the first third of the book is dedicated to following Larin as he grows from a child into a teenager. I know most people won't mind this but I hate books that have huge time skips like that. Also I never really found Larin interesting at all, so it was hard for me to be drawn into the book since it was so heavily character driven at first. After that the plot picks up with whole high fantasy meets Cthulhu thing, which sounds really cool but I just could not get into it all.

I'm sure this will be a great series for a lot of people, but I need some truly outstanding characters and world-building to get immersed in high fantasy and this book just wasn't doing it for me. Mar 05, Koeur rated it it was amazing. There, year old Larin suffers from a magical outbursts, shouting nonsense words into decaying alleyways.

Review: Wanna get lost for awhile in a really well written novel with great characters and spectacular world building? The supporting characters really deliver and the magic has limitations that ground the story line. Mar 30, Sydney rated it it was amazing. This is an intricate dark fantasy that's really hard to put down. The book beautifully develops the world while blending in action to keep the plot moving.

It's a very elegantly written fantasy, and the end will leave you begging for the next book! Apr 04, Ashleigh Gauch rated it it was amazing. And boy was I upset about the delay! The book opens with the story of Larin, a young orphan boy taken in by his uncle Akul, who resides in the temple of Emja, the supreme human god. She creates a charm for him that stops the fits, and with his newfound freedom, Larin sets about taking revenge on those who hurt him.

The campaign is short lived when the six-legged god of chaos and pain Morphat begins tricking the Wormpile residents into training at his temple of pain and misery, and Larin discovers his true purpose: bringing the mad demon king Haraf back into the world. Later on in the book we get some scenes from the point of view of an indigen six legged monsters banished in a prior war to the icy part of the continent general, and the creature genuinely felt both inhuman and relatable.

The writing style was gorgeous without being over the top, and despite how many unique concepts I was introduced to over the span of the novel, I never found myself lost. The magical system was well explained and I never found Rodgers breaking any of his own rules, which is a major plus. All his characters were well developed, and the villain, once revealed, is bone-chillingly creepy without being overly generic. View 1 comment. Oct 04, Angela Boord rated it really liked it Shelves: speculative-fiction. There's a lot of world-building in this novel, so if you're a fan of fantasy that includes big nasty cities, odd creatures, alien cultures, vengeful gods, evil villians, big magic, and wizard battles, you'll probably like this book.

I picked it up because I was interested in the main character, Larin. In the blurb for the book, he's described as having a kind of "magical Tourette's Syndrome" that causes him to shout a particular phrase for no apparent reason. Because I have a child with Tourette Syndrome, I was a little afraid of how this was actually going to be portrayed.

In the media, Tourette Syndrome often usually means a character who curses uncontrollably and is played for laughs. Sniffing and throat-clearing are common tics, for instance.

The shouting-curse-words tic does exist, but it's not particularly common. I was relieved to find that Larin's problem seems to be much more realistically and sympathetically handled. He shouts three words -- which do turn out to have an important meaning -- and makes several involuntary gestures with each outburst. At first his problem is embarrassing and he's bullied for it, but as the story progresses and Larin discovers what his words actually mean, his outbursts become dangerous. Not surprisingly, Larin battles loneliness and depression, but he makes a few friends and he's got some spunk, so this is not a "woe is me" tale.

I liked Larin, and I'll be interested in seeing how his character develops in the sequels, particularly as it seems like his three words are going to come with a hefty price attached. Bottom line: This is the first book in a complicated and detailed world which does a lot of the heavy lifting of setting up that world. But the characterization and story have enough oomph to make it something bigger than a "set-up book".

It's definitely worth reading, especially if you like your fantasy worlds very different from our own. Aug 17, Newpath rated it it was ok. At first I was really impressed at the technical quality of the writing and how deep and compelling the worldbuilding appeared to be. I was sucked almost immediately into the story and into the life of Larin, a street urchin living in a ghetto, but with an obvious sense of destiny about him. I was at the edge of my seat, expecting shit to go down at any moment.

But the more of the story I read and the closer I came to the end of the novel, the more confused I got. Nothing seemed to be happening to the protagonist Time after time a chapter started by declaring a time skip had happened, "months passed" and "weeks passed" and I just wondered "when is the story going to start?

Shards of Hope (Psy-Changeling, #14) by Nalini Singh

You know that part in the story where the protagonist stops demurring and finally "answers the call" and leaves his home in pursuit of adventure? That's literally where City of Shards ends. What a joke. Most of all, though: what a damn shame. This story had everything to be a real contender. No wonder the sequel was published only a month after this book. Apr 02, JKS Communications rated it it was amazing. Apr 02, Marissa DeCuir rated it it was amazing. I just couldn't put down this dark epic fantasy!

Perfect for anyone who enjoys the classic elements of high fantasy but also enjoys the grittier sociopolitical complexity of low fantasy. Mar 30, Sara rated it it was amazing. A fascinating debut fantasy book. Fans of Lord of the Rings and of Greek mythology will find something to love. Mar 01, Bob added it Shelves: fantasy. A battle looms between the Gods and their human and indigen proxies. At the same time competing currents within both camps threaten their internal unity.

Larin, a young man full of undisciplined, unmediated magic may be the only hope for either side. It's all very dramatic stuff, the characterisation and plotting is excellent, and the world-building blends familiar fantasy tropes with aspects recalling elements as disparate as Rice Burroughs' Barsoom and the Aztec Empire. It's great stuff, and it A battle looms between the Gods and their human and indigen proxies. It's great stuff, and it's very well written.

In fact, my only quibble is that the cover illustration is a bit too reminiscent of the pulp era for such a seriously-conceived book. I can't wait for the next in the series. Mar 19, Julie rated it it was amazing. An enthralling read by turns suspenseful, moving, and thought provoking. I would liken this book to China Mieville meets Gene Wolfe.

A richly imagined secondary world fantasy where different sorts who worship different gods are not getting along well at all, a world imbued with magic through the orb that rules the night sky, Spellgiver. Among this menagerie, differently-abled street urchin Lari An enthralling read by turns suspenseful, moving, and thought provoking.

Among this menagerie, differently-abled street urchin Larin discovers he has a key role to play in the scheme of things. Def looking forward to more in this series and more from this author in general. Feb 14, Carlisa Cramer rated it it was amazing Shelves: books-ive-edited. A really well-written and -developed fantasy novel! Jul 24, Chukwudi O. Welcome to the City of Shards. Three tools you need to embark on a journey into this book: An intensely curious mind, well-honed attention to detail, and an actively functioning imagination.

However, what you experience is much more than that. So if you think you are only going to experience magic within the pages of the book, then you are in for a howler. Much like the popular meme - do not take alcohol if Welcome to the City of Shards. Much like the popular meme - do not take alcohol if you are going to be operating heavy machinery - do not begin reading this book if you have important commitments coming up or you have deadlines to meet. Regardless of who you are or how much self-control you possess; you are going to turn the page.

Just, simply, an excellent read! May 04, Payal Sinha rated it it was amazing. City of Shards is a spellbinding novel centered around an orphan boy Larin. Larin lives with his uncle Akul inside a temple premises a lonely and cursed life. Since early childhood he had these intense outbursts that left him tired and bewildered. Hence, the only hope according to his uncle is to keep him hidden.

To combat the loneliness Larin takes to reading forbidden books from the temple's library. There he comes across words that fuel his anger and his outbursts. In search environments where large document collections are partitioned into smaller subsets shards , processing the query against only the relevant shards improves search efficiency. The problem of ranking the shards based on their estimated relevance to the query has been studied extensively.

However, a related important task of identifying how many of the top ranked relevant shards should be searched for the query, so as to balance the competing objectives of effectiveness and efficiency, has not received much attention. This task of shard rank cutoff estimation is the focus of the presented work. The central premise for the proposed solution is that the number of top shards searched should be dependent on — 1. An array of features that capture these three factors are defined, and a regression model is induced based on these features to learn a query-specific shard rank cutoff estimator.

An empirical evaluation using two large datasets demonstrates that the learned shard rank cutoff estimator provides substantial improvement in search efficiency as compared to strong baselines without degrading search effectiveness. Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF. Skip to main content. Advertisement Hide. Conference paper First Online: 05 September This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves. This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access. Barroso, L. Baeza-Yates, R.

Chowdhury, A. Risvik, K. Kulkarni, A. Gravano, L. Callan, J.