Gregory Frost

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"Shadowbridge"

(Reviewed by Ann Wilkes DEC 29, 2008)

Shadowbridge by Gregory Frost

In Shadowbridge, Gregory Frost displays wonderfully rich tales, each of which is a gem in itself in an intricately woven story of a young woman who flees a controlling, abusive guardian and becomes a renowned puppeteer while all the while having ever more exciting and dangerous adventures.

Leodora has her famous father's talent and it is her ticket to freedom. She leaves her home with Soter, the old drunkard who taught her, the same man who traveled with her father as a member of his troupe and their promoter. They leave their small island and climb up to the span. Shadowbridge is a watery world filled with bridges or spans arranged in spirals that were dreamed into existence. Leodora travels from span to span learning each span's stories and retelling them with puppets in shadow plays.

Each of Shadowbridge's spans has a culture all its own and once a traveler walks through the arch to the new span, he can magically understand that span's language. Leodora's path crosses with an orphaned teenage boy. Diverus was left for dead in a dragon bowl with other supplicants hoping for a touch from the gods that almost never happened. The gods favor him, transforming him in ways Diverus doesn't immediately understand only to be promptly sold into slavery.

Led by the gods, Leodora finds and saves Diverus. With him as her musician the now three-person troupe sets out for yet another span. Soter constantly worries for their safety, but will never tell Leodora the real reason for his anxiety.

Frost tells tall tales the likes of which I've not experienced since the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson when I was a child. Each of the tales within the novel shows another aspect of this strange, magical world called Shadowbridge. The lives of the major characters mirror the themes of the stories Leodora performs. Stories of courage, transformation, anguished choices, self discovery, foolish mistakes and redemption.

There's one thing more. A warning. Frost leaves a doozy of a cliff-hanger and way too many loose ends for my taste in his "ending". If you read Shadowbridge without the second of this two book adventure, Lord Tophet, at hand, you'll regret it.

  • Amazon readers rating: from 5 reviews

Read a chapter excerpt from Shadowbridge at author's website

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"Lord Tophet"

(Reviewed by Ann Wilkes DEC 29, 2008)

Lord Tophet by Gregory Frost

In Lord Tophet, the sequel to Shadowbridge, Leodora journeys into Edgeworld, the realm of the gods, though her body never leaves the dragon bowl that she ventured out onto at the end of Shadowbridge. On her watery world of Shadowbridge, most people live on spans or bridges that connect in spirals across the planet. Each span has a dragon bowl where a supplicant may await a touch from the gods that rarely comes.

Leodora's father, the famous puppeteer, whom she has surpassed in skill, had disappeared from that span years prior, just before The Destroyer, Lord Tophet ruined its buildings and turned anyone in his path to stone where they stood. When Leodora returns to her body, she finds that the extensive swatch of the span that had lain in shambles now shines resplendent as if the edifices were built anew in the blink of an eye.

The denizens of the span had blamed Lea's father for the scourge and banned performances. With the span made whole, the ban is lifted. Lea fills the great theater as her father once did.

Soter fears for her life but can't tell her why. She constantly chafes at his control of her. Meantime the gods-gifted musician she rescued from slavery accompanies her in her quest to answer the questions that Soter won't.

When she was in the bowl, she saw an inverted world under the span; even a blue man who waved to her from his doorstep where he stood upside down from her perspective. Once back on the span, it seems such a place is only a rumor or myth. No one has actually seen it, much less been there.Lea's search for the upside down world propels her into a larger adventure; one that pits her against the very evil that Soter tried so hard to shield her from.

Gregory Frost portrays fantastical places and weaves captivating stories throughout that tell more about the wondrous people of the magical world of Shadowbridge and its culture and history. The mystery, intrigue and the paranormal enhance this story of self-discovery and heroism. Every player in Lord Tophet has a distinct character and motivation and they all increase the reader's understanding of fascinating culture and residents of Shadowbridge as they guide or hinder Leodora's journey.

  • Amazon readers rating: 4.5 starsfrom 5 reviews

Read a chapter excerpt from Shadowbridge at author's website

 



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Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)

The Tain Series:

Shadowbridge Novels:

 

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Book Marks:

 

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About the Author:

Gregory FrostGregory Frost was born in 1951 in Des Moines, Iowa. He majored in art at Drake University for three years before attending the undergraduate writing program at the University of Iowa, graduating with a BA in 1976. He attended Clarion in 1975, and has returned to teach at the workshop several times.

Frost along with Judith Berman and Richard Butner ran the Sycamore Hill Writers Workshops in the 1990s. It's a workshop for published fantasy and science fiction writers.

He is currently one of the rotating Fiction Writing Workshop Directors at Swarthmore College, in Swarthmore, PA.

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