The long awaited 3rd installment of Lorna Freeman’s Borderlands series, Shadows Past, is well worth the years long delay (though, even if it had been terrible, I would have loved it for giving me my Borderlands fix). The story picks up where The King’s Own left off with Rabbit and the royal party celebrating Rabbit’s name day in Freston. Rabbit has become reluctant to use his powers after the fight with the demon. To make matters worse, Lord Idwal of Mearden, the lord Hilga eso Flavan jilted for Rafe ibn Chause, has sent a offer for Rabbit to marry his daughter.
King Jusson decides to travel to Mearden to meet with Idwal and his family. However Mearden is not what they expected. They find a Border-like castle filled with depictions of the people with its own enchanted forest. They also meet a messenger sent by the Qarant and the new Turalian ambassador, someone from Captain Suiden’s past, who has a wizard as an advisor. Nothing is as it seems as secrets from the past are revealed. Rabbit learns the details of his parents’ flight to the Border, Suiden’s past, Jusson’s relationship to his mother, the late queen, and even a few of Ryson’s secrets. Rabbit begins to feel the strain of living up to everyones’ expectations. Even his aspects are doing as the will, appearing when not summoned and refusing to go away.
Ryson’s revelation was one of the biggest surprises to me. It seems that he is not just a reformed lackey. Suiden and Jusson’s secrets were the most heartbreaking, revealing how and why they became the men they are. The conversation between Jusson and Rabbit in the last chapter was one my favorite parts in the entire book. I was also glad that Suiden, Javes, and Rabbit’s troop are back after missing them for most of The King’s Own.
Covenants is still my favorite in the series, but Shadows Past has the same elements that made the first such a great read. There are foiled assassination attempts, magic, mystery, and even a little seduction. The Borderlands universe is a complex world filled with rich characters, settings, and imagery. The next novel, The Reckoning Flames, is set up nicely with another adventure to be had and more secrets to be uncovered, including what exactly Moraina saw in her farseeing. If you loved the previous novels in the series, you will not be disappointed with Shadows Past. I only wish that it was longer. Hopefully there will not be such a long wait for the next installment.