Lord Tophet


Gregory Frost


Science Fiction / Fantasy


Date Reviewed:

March 24, 2009

ord Tophet is clearly only an installment in an ongoing series. I thought Shadowbridge + Lord Tophet was a complete story, but when I finished reading this book it was clear that there was much more to the tale that still remains to be told. However, a quick glanceat Frost's home webpage makes no mention of any additional Shadowbridge books. Click here for Frost webpage.

There are a lot of nice elements to this novel. Frost does an excellent job of creating a fantasy universe full of wonder and marvel, populated with some creepy characters. When Lord Tophet finally appears, he appears to be a terrific bad guy. Frost describes some unique places, such as the inverted world called Pons Asinorum that can occasionally be glimpsed hanging upside above the bridge span Colemaigne. I also liked the main characters Diverus and Leodora. Just like in the first volume, Frost includes some excellent stories within the main story that convey the culture and history of Shadowbridge to the reader.

What I didn't like so much about Lord Tophet is the plot. Not only has the story not ended by the last page, but it seems to me that there is entire level to this story that going on in the background that is only vaguely glimpsed by the reader. The gods are active characters in this story, and Leodora and Diverus interact with them. Clearly someone is manipulating our heroes - why else would Leodora happen to be transported to that prison? That the coral man has come into her possession is clearly no accident. Leodora has a talking pendant that gives her clues of how the gods want her to act. Unfortunately, Frost does not explain the gods actions, so seems as if they are acting arbitrarily, the gods appear to be mere a device to guide the plot along. It seems like Frost wants to give us a tour of his inventive and interesting Shadowbridge, that the true story he wants to tell is the exploration of this marvelous fantasy world, and the plot is a simply a device for moving the reader from one wonder to the next.

I was disappointed by Lord Tophet. Why is he so focused on Leodora and her puppets? The explanation seemed pretty weak. Lord Tophet could have been a great opponent, full of cruelty and cunning. But once he actually gets his brief time upon the stage, Lord Tophet hardly seems menacing. Leodora handles him with surprising ease. Clearly Lord Tophet is only a secondary character in the as-yet-untold larger story.

I will be surprised if Lord Tophet truly is the last book in the Shadowbridge novels, it seems there is too much of the tale left to be told, and Frost clearly likes exploring his bridge/water world and certainly will return with more story. If there is another book, I will probably read it.