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Friday, May 28, 2010

"Shadow's Son" by Jon Sprunk (Reviewed by Liviu Suciu and Cindy Hannikman)


Official Jon Sprunk Website
Order Shadow's Son HERE

INTRODUCTION
:"In the holy city of Othir, treachery and corruption lurk at the end of every street, just the place for a freelance assassin with no loyalties and few scruples. Caim makes his living on the edge of a blade, but when a routine job goes south, he is thrust into the middle of an insidious plot. Pitted against crooked lawmen, rival killers, and sorcery from the Other Side, his only allies are Josephine, the socialite daughter of his last victim, and Kit, a guardian spirit no one else can see. But in this fight for his life, Caim only trusts his knives and his instincts, but they won’t be enough when his quest for justice leads him from Othir’s hazardous back alleys to its shining corridors of power. To unmask a conspiracy at the heart of the empire, he must claim his birthright as the Shadow’s Son…"

There was something intrinsically appealing about the blurb above that made me include it in my
Anticipated 2010 Books Post as well as giving it a high priority as reading order goes. On opening it, I got hooked from the first paragraphs below and I read it non-stop in one sitting since it's a fast, page turning novel.

FORMAT/CLASSIFICATION: "Shadow's Son" stands at close to 300 pages divided into thirty two numbered chapters and follows mostly Caim and Josephine. The setup is a traditionally corrupt Imperial capital, though now there is a religious Council leading the state after the last Emperor's overthrow. There is dark magic and suitably menacing practitioners of such, as well as Kit a mysterious "guardian" spirit of Caim's who tends to be just a bit peeved when Caim manifests any interest in a girl.

Trusted but strange boss, rivals, enemies, unlikely allies and quite a few other tropes of adventure fantasy starring a killer for hire as main lead - we encounter all in "Shadow's Son" which is a series debut that manages to stand above the crowd by its superb execution.

ANALYSIS: Liviu:
"A killer stalked in the shadows. Hidden within the gloom shrouding the hall’s lofty ceiling, he crept across the rafters to the flicker of the torch fires below. As unseen as the wind, silent as Death itself.
Festive music rose from the chamber beneath him.

The flower of northern Nimea, two hundred lords and ladies, filled the great hall of Ostergoth Keep. The sharp crack of a whip cut through the din. The centerpiece of the evening was an aged hillman, stripped to the waist and bound to a wooden frame. Livid welts oozing blood crisscrossed his shoulders and back. While Duke Reinard’s guests gorged on fine victuals, his torturer performed for their entertainment."


The first lines of the novel should give you a clear taste of its style since for me they were the kind that get and keep me reading without being able to put the book down unless I really must. And
"Shadow's Son" continues in this addictive way till the end without letting the pace slack even for a moment. While there is nothing extremely original about the world building, plot or action sequences, that does not matter since the execution is pitch perfect: the city of Othir comes to life, the plot is carefully conceived and carried out to its conclusion, while Caim's violent encounters seem vivid and easy to imagine.

There is no particular subtlety in most of the characters either - the villains are villainous so to speak and for some there is a bit over the top "Caim seemingly kills them again and again" only to reappear again and again, while the twists and turns are mostly predictable once you get in the flow of the novel, but
"Shadow's Son" is written so well that nothing else really mattered for me. Caim and Josephine are characters you get to care and root for easily and that was another major part of my enjoyment of the book.

"Shadow's Son" concludes its main thread and can be read as a standalone, while of course the hook for the next installment is set. An A+ for the style and the series became another get/read asap, confirming for once the "good vibes" I had from the original announcement.

Cindy:

Shadow's Son is attention grabbing, fast paced, and an overall stand out fantasy novel.

From the moment I picked up the book it was virtually impossible to put down.
The writing and set up of the novel/chapters really played major factors in keeping this a fast paced novel.

The novel is set up at just about 300 pages and it's a perfect novel to keep any readers attention. Jon Sprunk knows just how to describe a scene, character interaction, or important plot element without dragging it out. There is certainly no fluff element in this novel. There is enough description to give a reader an idea of what the world and characters are but there is no time wasted with detailing every single element in this novel.

Another benefit of the set up of the novel is the set up of the chapters. Each chapter is a reasonable length, while ending on a note that made me want to read more.
I found myself engrossed enough that before I knew it I had read 4-5 chapters, it really was impossible to put down.

All characters involved with Shadow's Son are amazingly detailed and enjoyable. They really strike a cord with a reader and Sprunk's writing causes readers to want to enjoy and know what is happening to the readers. For myself, while I enjoyed both Caim and Josephine, the character that I really loved was Kit, and would love to see more of her in future novels.

The fight scenes that are present within Shadow's Son are detailed and action packed without being too detailed or overly long. They appeared at just the right time to amp up my enthusiasm in the book and weren't overly done for effect.

Shadow's Son takes fantasy to it's original roots with a great storyline, quick paced plot flow, some really great fight scenes and enjoyable characters. While there isn't anything overly complex, as in readers aren't going to find overly detailed magic, intricate political systems, and a million different cities to understand, there is an element that this is an amazing fantasy novel with.

Jon Sprunk shows that not all fantasy novels need to be doorstoppers to be good. Shadow's Son is easily one of my favorite books of 2010 and I look forward to seeing what Sprunk can add to this trilogy.

4 comments:

Audrey said...

Thanks for the great review. This story looks like a really great read! It reminds me of a fantasy book that I am finishing right now called, "Bloodline Alliance." This one is another page turner that takes you into an incredible journey - you feel like you know the characters personally. I hope you can check it out!

Peter said...

Looking forward to this one. Thanks for the review!

Cindy said...

Audrey I will check it out sometime :)

Thank you Peter! I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Can't wait to pick up my copy. Thanks for the review.

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