Monday, April 2, 2012

Shadow's Son - Jon Sprunk


About the book

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


278 pages (paperback)
Published on: June 8, 2010
Published by: Pyr
Author’s webpage

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It’s rare that I come across a fantasy book so full of cliché’s that the book itself has that “already been written a hundred times before” feel to it, and still enjoyed the hell out of it. That’s a combination that just doesn’t exist together…until now. Shadow’s Son is the improbable mash-up of already used ideas set into a world that is much like any other world with a protagonist who wears a hood on the cover of the book, like so many others. Yet somehow Sprunk has made this book an enjoyable, hard-to-put-down ride.

Cliché’s are cliché’s for a reason. They worked, and they have worked so many times they turned into a cliché. So while Sprunk marches out fantasy trope after fantasy trope, he’s playing on what he knows has worked before, and he makes it work again. While some readers may lament the fact that Sprunk colored carefully inside the lines with Shadow’s Son, the amount of fun readers will have while devouring this book will probably help them overlook that complaint.

Shadow’s Son is everything you’d expect a book with a cloaked figure holding knives on the cover to be. It focuses on Caim, an assassin with a mysterious past. Caim somehow accidentally falls into a major political coup which he has to navigate. Mixed with this is a beautiful woman who has a surprise of her own, an incredibly fast romantic connection and plenty of action. Furthermore, the antagonists are exactly what you’d expect. They are incredibly powerful with mysterious means of their own to make their plans into a reality.

Nothing is really surprising. Most tried and true fantasy readers can probably outline the plot in their minds before they even crack the book. However, Sprunk’s steady prose and compelling situations makes Shadow’s Son a whole lot of fun. Furthermore, the plot is incredibly quick moving. Something is always happening, propelling the characters forward and onward. Sprunk did a wonderful job at tightly weaving his plot so there are no gaping holes, or dull moments. It’s a mixture of Sprunk’s writing and a quick plot that makes this book such a hit as well as my own soft spot for denizens of the night.

Despite how fun Shadow’s Son is, there were some faults with fairly surface level characters. Caim and Josey both stayed firmly in their character roles as badass and cute-girl-in-trouble. This is the only real spot I had a hard time with Sprunk firmly coloring inside the lines. The characters were pale compared to the runaway plot. I would have liked to see a little more depth and risk with Sprunk’s development of Caim and Josey and found it rather disappointing that the main protagonists didn’t hold a candle to the actual plot of the book, in fact, they are both forgettable.

That being said, Shadow’s Son is a fairly short book, which makes it a fast read. The length is actually perfect; any longer and the book would have been too long for the story it contains. The short length makes this a quick, diversionary read. It’s fantasy-lite and that’s fine. This is a book you won’t have to think too much about. Shadow’s Son will grab you from the first page, and though it might not surprise you, or shock you too much, it’ll take you on one hell of a ride and leave you off wanting more.

Sprunk has somehow managed to make every tired fantasy cliché into a book that doesn’t seem tired, or overdone at all. While there are issues, and I would have enjoyed a bit more character depth and unique qualities to the book, Shadow’s Son was exactly what I needed: A quick, escapist fantasy read that reminds me why I enjoy this genre (and assassins) so much.

3/5 stars

2 comments:

  1. I agree with you in that I did think the Caim/Josey relationship in this book needed work.

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