The only joy of culling a library is the chance to go back through all the books and pick out the ones you don’t remember well. If I re-read all of those, I’d never get this slow-moving project done, but I did pick a few.
The Wizard’s Shadow is one from the category – Don’t Remember At All. And there’s some reason for that, unfortunately. It’s a better tale than I remembered, though few of the details rang any bells. It’s got a credible, somewhat unusual character at the core – a peddler driven by a dead mage’s shadow. But it never troubles to delve very deeply into its characters, or its hero’s motivations and interactions, which means that most of his interesting credibility goes by the wayside in a plot that’s more sketched than implemented. Dexter seems more interested in the economics and the setting than in the human interactions, and it’s a shame, because there’s a good deal of potential here. The result is a pleasant but forgettable novel. It’s the kind of book that would be a good world-expansion side book. It’s possible that it was intended as such, since the book suggests Dexter also has a trilogy or two (and ISFDB says they’re in the same world). Unfortunately, reading this wasn’t enough to draw me on to those. As a standalone, the book is nice, but a bit …[shrug]. I wish Dexter had done more to develop it.
The central mystery – the shadow of the mage – is more impulse than thread, and is more dropped than resolved at the end, though not in a really frustrating way. That same laxity applies to some extent to the relationships, where, after a feint at honest emotion, Dexter falls back to tested tropes and formula.