Shadow’s Lure – Shadow Saga #2 – Jon Sprunk
Release date: June 21st 2011
Age Group: Adult
Source: Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
The unforgiving Northlands . . .
In Othir, he was at the top of the food chain—an assassin beyond compare, a dark shadow in the night. But Caim left that life behind when he helped an empress claim her throne. And now his past has come calling again.
Searching for the truth behind the murder and disappearance of his parents, Caim discovers a land in thrall to the Shadow. Haunted by temptations from the Other Side, he becomes mired in a war he does not want to fight.
But there are some things a son of the Shadow cannot ignore, and some fights from which he can’t run. In this battle, all of Caim’s strength and skill won’t be enough. For none can resist the Shadow’s Lure.
I was a big fan of “Shadow’s Son”, Jon Sprunk’s debut assassins novel, so when I got the second book, “Shadow’s Lure” and the last part of the trilogy “Shadow’s Master” in the mail, some neighbors might have seen me do an elaborate happy-dance. After finishing “Shadow’s Lure”, I feel even more lucky to have received these from Pyr, so a big thank you is in order here. The second part of Caim’s story was, just as the first one, a joy to read. And here’s why:
Jon Sprunk is a fabulous writer. The writing is clean and compelling, just as it was in the first book. He paints such a vivid image of his characters and their surroundings, it’s easy to lose yourself in this story. This is the kind of book where you keep flipping the pages without even noticing it. Sprunk knows how to pull his audience in and how to make the readers feel like what he’s writing about is happing around them instead of on mere pages.
This is a story about an assassin, so obviously there are a lot of detailed fighting scenes in this book and they are a real treat. I don’t think it’s easy to write a compelling detailed fighting scene. Describing every move, every sword thrust, every step… I’m pretty sure an author needs a certain talent to write these sort of scenes the right way, to make them compelling and not tiresome. Jon Sprunk definitely has that talent. I could vividly image every move Caim made, how the bodies fell, where he struck or how he got injured. It made for some exhilarating action that got my blood pumping.
Sprunk also knows exactly how to bring his main character alive. Caim is flawed and not always a ray of sunshine (well, actually, most of the time he’s rather grumpy), he’s not the most positive person and he has his struggles, but he’s so easy to love. That may sound weird, but Caim is really a character that pulled me in completely. I can’t help but feel for him and fear for his life when he’s got himself into another battle. Sprunk did an amazing job there, because the connection with a character is very important to me and it’s usually the lacking of said connection that makes a book fall flat for me.
As for the other characters, though good, they weren’t as easy to love as Caim. Josey is someone is mostly felt compassion for throughout the book, I feel for her for the ordeal she has to go through, but she lacked some strength for the most part of the book. Not that she can’t stand her ground when she has to, she just made a vulnerable impression on me in this book, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I’m more of a “strong-women” fan. She made up for it in the end though.
The story itself was more of a build-up towards the final book, but nonetheless very entertaining to read. The thing that intrigued me most in the first book, was Caim’s past. There’s a veil of mystery there. After “Shadow’s Son” we know some bits and pieces about what happened, but in this installment we discover a lot more about the tragic event when Caim goes back to his roots in the North to find out what happened that night.
Meanwhile, Josey has to struggle through her first weeks as the new Empress of Nimea. Not an easy position, as she almost immediately has to face danger and uprisings.
We also get a glimpse of Kit’s side of the story, which I thought was really great. It was nice getting to know her better and finding out where she came from and how she got where she is now.
The struggle between church and state for authority and power is still an interesting subject and is a well-chosen background for the struggles of one of our main characters. Little mentions of it keep popping up in other storylines too, which weaves them together at some level.
The use of magic and sorcery is rather dark and grim in this trilogy, but that puts it in an interesting light, it’s definitely not a bad thing. It’s also not overwhelming. I like how the author went a bit further in this book and explored Caim’s powers and the possibilities/consequences of it.
“Shadow’s Lure” was definitely on the same high level as the first book was. It’s not better, but equal to it. After reading two books in the trilogy, I wouldn’t put them on my top shelve, but definitely not far below it. These are good, solid Fantasy books, not masterpieces, but they are among the better Fantasy I’ve read so far.
I’m hoping the third book, “Shadow’s Master”, will make a satisfying ending to what has been a magnificent story so far.