The Shadow of His Wings is the story of a miner’s son, Lukan Barra, and his quest. Set near the end of the first millenium in Myrcia, one of the Six Kingdoms, the novel opens with the estrangement of Lukan from his criminal brother, Vearus, who returns from exile with the secret of healing and transformation of the flesh that gains him power second only to Myrcia’s despotic ruler, the Sanctor Grouin.
An invading army from Skarria is threatening Myrcia’s capitol city of Castlecliff. Lukan, fallen from his apprenticeship as a woodworker, is pressed-ganged into military service, only barely surviving the battle of Dawn Horse Hill which only temporarily halts the onslaught of the Skarrians, led by Gortahork, the dreaded Hook of the East.
The desperate Sanctor declares the throne open to anyone who can secure the intervention of the fabled Erseiyr, the immortal winged creature worshipped and feared by the Myrcians, that lives in a mountaintop cavern laden with golden tribute of ages past. Lukan, thrown unjustly into prison after the battle and then mysteriously released, must leave Castlecliff. Despite his doubts about the sincerity of Grouin’s offer he resolves to join the many questers eager to claim the prize of the throne.
A late start, it develops, is an advantage to Lukan, who avoids the invaders stripping corpses of murdered questers and joins forces with the beautiful and unpredictable Rui Ravenstone, his brother’s former lover, in an attempt to be the first to reach the lair of the Erseiyr, the god and monster whose great wings shadow the future of the land, whose fate becomes linked with Lukan’s in a strange and wonderful bonding.
Reviews of The Shadow of His Wings
“The Shadow of His Wings was almost impossible to put down. The characters are compelling, and watching Lukan develop from a good but gentle and very ordinary man into a hero with an iron will fascinated me.” — Christopher Stasheff
“With his provocative prose and a well-rounded cast of characters, Bruce Fergusson brings a breath of fresh air to a tired genre. The hero, the quest, the dragon-like creature and its hoard, are all brought to life in such a way that the reader feels as though he or she is approaching them all for the first time. The Shadow of His Wings is an outstanding debut…”— Charles de Lint
“A very unusual fantasy…Mr. Fergusson is an unusually honest fantasist, writing about a character who is both a common and uncommon man. Lukan Barra is not a king’s bastard, nor a wizard, nor a mighty-thewed barbarian. He’s an average working stiff, thrust into the challenges of his time. That he must become a hero to meet these challenges is not the real story. It is that he does so because he wants, despite his wilder dreams, to continue as he is—an average working stiff…Most fantasy writers explore the higher aspirations of men. Fergusson explores what is shameful and petty as well, and uses the contrast to show how rare those heights can be…Even his minor characters are memorable while his major ones are uncomfortably real. Lukan Barra is an unvarnished hero, and all the more likeable for it.” — Megan Lindholm (Robin Hobb)
“Bruce Fergusson’s first novel is an extremely well-done and non-cliched heroic fantasy. The book is absorbing and intelligent, involving you right from the beginning. It’s full of excellent, well-drawn characters and terrific details…Nothing in the book rings false; to use Ursula LeGuin’s metaphor, we never leave Elfland and find ourselves in Poughkeepsie. The Shadow of His Wings is beautifully written, and is highly recommended.” — Fantasy Review
“Bruce Fergusson’s first novel, The Shadow of His Wings, feels so natural and true that as I read it, it felt like he was writing my autobiography. Not that I’ve ever had my brother go off and come back as a “healer’ whose medical experiments are straight out of Mengele and whose political gifts remind you of Rasputin. It’s just that he writes so well that the story felt like my own memories…
“Fergusson is a master with the tools of Romance: love and loathing, betrayal and trust, glory and jealousy and spectacle. But that’s all hidden—you’ll barely notice it. You’ll be too busy feeling grime on your face, grit between your fingers, aching muscles and stinging blisters, and that sick pain deep in your gut that comes from knowing that unless you can do five impossible things in the next five minutes, you’re going to die…
“In each chapter, Fergusson gives us more life than most writers can put in a whole book. He is as profligate with character and detail as Dickens; he spends language the way a lottery winner spends money; yet every detail, every event, every paragraph is essential to his brilliant story.” — Orson Scott Card
“Fergusson creates a fantasy backround grim with deceit, greed, and treachery against which the integrity of his hero shines all the brighter. A good choice.” — Library Journal