Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Shadow's Son: Book Review

Shadow's Son by Jon Sprunk
Set in a very well defined world, Shadow's Son takes us on quite a ride, whether its the low town back alleys or the manors of esteemed gentry.

We follow Caim, an assassin of some repute. He is very talented at what he does but has help in the form of Kit, an ethereal being that only he can see or hear. Caim also has powers he doesn't fully understand and for the most part those are about the most magical things in the book.

I like that. Keep it simple stupid.

As I've gotten older (and I have railed about this before) I like plenty of action-which this has lots of- and if there is going to be magic in my fantasies it has to have a cost. And thinking about a lot of the talk online I read this last week only made me think about how Shadow's Son has the correct balance.

A couple of term's I do not personally like and will only use for the sake of my rant (sorry Jon) is high fantasy and low fantasy. I find them pointless and they only divide what at its core was the same thing. IF someone wrote Beowulf today it would be lumped into low fantasy-but I hate that term, its negative. And what makes high fantasy so high? Give me a break, both Beowulf and Tolkien denote EPIC and HEROIC.

Getting back on track-Shadow's Son is such a perfect balance over what could be termed both sides of the coin I just argued against. It has the one man (with some great help-namely Josey) fighting for a cause that could be snuffed out with his or Josey's death (S&S) and yet their goal and struggle has far-reaching effects for the entire kingdom HIGH noble fantasy-so we have both the Epic and S&S tropes.

Balance, right here right now. Caim is a sword & sorcery hero, but what he does also fits in with the noble HIGH quest, and true to S&S stylings, Caim has to question why he is even doing it.

Sprunk's writing is wonderful, the prose had a lyrical flow I love and some excellent metaphors-I'm a sucker for that stuff. While I did see some plot twists coming, others were great surprises and one was a big shocker. Wrapping up toward the end I couldn't put the book down, I had to see what happened next-very thrilling.

I did have to wonder at the end, why Caim couldn't just stay a part of things with Josey (societal rules be damned)-but then where would we go for book 2? I sincerely hope we get more pieces to the puzzle of Caim's maternal orgins.

Shadow's Son is the first in a trilogy and I look forward to Sprunk's next work.


Charles Gramlich said...

I definitely want my magic to have a serious cost. I tried to do that strongly in the Talera books.

Paul R. McNamee said...

Man, PYR have a ridiculous catalog. I pretty much want to read every title they offer - I just wish the price would come down. Books @ $16 are a darn investment.

It'd be nice if they were willing to 'stoop' to some mass market paperbacks optional to the nice trades they produce.

I'll probably do a lot of PYR reads on my Kindle, when I get to them.

Thanks for the review.

David J. West said...

And thats something I love about the Talera Cycle Charles.

Paul, I hear ya-there is at least 5 or 6 more that are on my must get list. They aren't the ony pub I have noticed releasing their books this way either-may be a sign of the times.