Book Review: Worldshaper

Worldshaper .jpg

  • Title: Worldshaper
  • Author: Edward Willett
  • Series: Worldshapers, #1 in series
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Publishing Date: September 18th, 2018
  • Publishing Co.: DAW, Inc.
  • Length: 358 pages
  • Format: Kindle, Audiobook, Paperback
  • Acquired: Gifted free paperback in exchange for an honest review
  • Amazon LinkWorldshaper

For Shawna Keys, the world is almost perfect. She’s just opened a pottery studio in a beautiful city. She’s in love with a wonderful man. She has good friends.

But one shattering moment of violence changes everything. Mysterious attackers kill her best friend. They’re about to kill Shawna. She can’t believe it’s happening–and just like that, it isn’t. It hasn’t. No one else remembers the attack, or her friend. To everyone else, Shawna’s friend never existed…

Everyone, that is, except the mysterious stranger who shows up in Shawna’s shop. He claims her world has been perfect because she Shaped it to be perfect; that it is only one of uncounted Shaped worlds in a great Labyrinth; and that all those worlds are under threat from the Adversary who has now invaded hers. She cannot save her world, he says, but she might be able to save others–if she will follow him from world to world, learning their secrets and carrying them to Ygrair, the mysterious Lady at the Labyrinth’s heart.

Frightened and hounded, Shawna sets off on a desperate journey, uncertain whom she can trust, how to use her newfound power, and what awaits her in the myriad worlds beyond her own.

First Chapter Challenge: (10 pages)

In this first chapter, we get a glimpse of two very different characters: Karl Yatsar, who seems to be a (human?) man of indeterminate age on a mission to find a specific Worldshaper (Shaper for short) to save Ygrair and possibly the world; and Shawna Keys, who appears to be a normal, newly-becoming-successful-potter, just beginning to set up her very own pottery shop in a normal, Earthen city. Obviously, it seems like Shawna is the Shaper that Yatsar is searching for, and I cannot wait until they meet! What will happen? How will Shawna take her new destiny? Will she be able to save everyone?

Final Judgment: 4.5 Stars out of 5

So, I absolutely loved this book. Basically, the premise is that this potter, Shawna, is a Worldshaper (aka Shaper) from the First World. As you can see, her chosen profession of pottery-making is perfect. 10 years ago, she was given her own world to Shape (basically create however she wanted) by Ygrair, her past mentor and teacher. However, Shawna does not remember creating her world, or even Ygrair herself in the slightest, and so she has no idea that she is a Shaper… At least until Yatsar, on a save-the-worlds mission from Ygrair, enlightens her. And then they must flee through Shawna’s world–which by the way is beginning to turn on her thanks to the Adversary–to reach a portal to another world in order to escape said Adversary and collect the Hokmah’s of other worlds to eventually bring back to Ygrair. Got it? Oh yeah, and everyone that Shawna knew from her world, all of her memories prior to 10 years ago, all are fake. She created them herself. Her boyfriend, best friend, even her mother are all figments of her creation.

“…[I]n such a world,” Karl said, “where there is only one way to think, ruthlessly imposed, there can be no freedom, no change, no creativity…He has stripped them of free will. He is the ultimate tyrant.” (pg 89)

So this plot… Like daaaang it was intense. I liked that even though it seems desperately convoluted, it was really easy to pick up on and develop throughout the book. Edward Willett does an absolutely amazing job keeping the reader engaged in the plot and up-to-date with what exactly is going on. Part of that is thanks to his writing of multiple POVs, mostly Shawna, some Yatsar, and even some scenes from the Adversary’s perspective. It creates a well-rounded story that shows this confusing mission from Ygrair in differing lights. Is she really this angel that Yatsar believes she is? Or is she more of the war criminal that the Adversary believes her to be?

Within the multiple POVs, Willett also intertwines modern humor and witty historic literary references throughout the novel. Shawna’s entertaining humor keeps her plight upbeat and  purposefully moving along, allowing her (and the readers) to deal with the multitude of losses throughout the book. It is also interesting to note that Shawna has a habit of breaking the fourth wall (is that what you still call it in writing?) In certain situations, she tends to almost speak directly to the reader, gently tugging us into the story until we almost become one of her own Shaped people… What a thought! It was a little jarring at first, but after the first few times she did this, I settled in quite nicely. It even contributed to my enjoyment of the novel, as I felt more a part of this book than many others I’ve read, and it lent further humor to be had.

I’d always thought of myself as an extremely creative person, and now Karl was telling me I’d only put a thin veneer of change on my world… a layer of ordinary blown glaze on a plain stoneware pot, as compared to the glistening metallic glaze other Shapers had lavished on extravagantly  abstract ceramic sculptors (pg 135).

So Shawna’s world was Shaped to closely resemble the First World, from which I have determined is basically our own Earth in real life. But what makes it incredibly interesting and intriguing are the minor differences that Shawna incorporated in her world, just enough so that we readers feel as if we are on a completely different Earth than our real one just outside the pages. In fact, there are some amazing technological advances/machines that I would love to have in real life. Additionally, all brand-names have been modified… Just enough so that we readers are familiar with the product, but which have enough difference to them to go along with Shawna’s humor. The worldbuilding truly is phenomenal, as it takes us to a whole new world, while only changing minor things from our own.

The only reason I did not give this novel 5 stars was the fact that the characters tended to be inconsistent and redundant. They were inconsistent in the fact that they would have thoughts or arguments at one point in the story, and then would have a different opinion or change part of the facts, later on in the story, without any rationality for it. It was slightly redundant both in regards to the inconsistency (we readers would be presented with the same argument/thought again and again, even though it tended to be inconsistent, and perhaps lent to part of its inconsistency) as well as in dialogue. Yatsar and Shawna seem to have the same conversations/arguments over again and again, and I understand that that is part of human nature, and that Shawna was attempting to reconcile her new world view with what her memory told her, but it got tiring after a while. So much so that Shawna almost began getting on my nerves, and I would breeze through some of her dialogue moments with Yatsar. However, these moments were few and far between, and the rest of the novel more than makes up for these very minor flaws!

How much Shaping can the human mind take?… How much can you bend it before it shatters? (pg 160)

I can definitely say that I will eagerly be on the lookout for the second book in this series! This one definitely left me with a cliffhanger, and I cannot wait until I can continue the adventure!


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