Shadow’s Lure by Jon Sprunk

Shadow’s Lure book cover
Rating 5.8/10
Sadly, Shadow's Lure fails to live up to its predecessor.

After helping his lover Josey claim her throne as Empress, troubled assassin Caim sets out on a path of personal discovery to uncover the truth about his parents murder.

Anyone familiar with Sprunk’s first book, Shadow’s Son, will know that Caim is not your everyday wall hugging, knife-wielding assassin. This assassin has control over the dark, able to bend the shadows to his will and use them to deal out death and destruction more swiftly than any human. But a power like this comes at a price, and each time Caim calls upon the dark corners of the world, he finds himself teetering on the edge of an all-consuming bloodlust that threatens to swallow him completely.

This second phase of Caim’s adventures sees our protagonist learn more about himself, his abilities and his role in the world. A solitary man who revels in his own company, Caim has responsibility thrust upon him here as he is forced to lead a motley crew of villagers into what could be the beginnings of a revolution.

There’s a nice, gradual evolution to the political manoeuvring surrounding these events that slowly slot the characters and their actions into the ‘bigger picture’ of Sprunk’s world. Caim’s personal plight however is more interesting than the overriding tale and it’s a bit disappointing that it doesn’t take a more prominent seat in the narrative (it only really comes to fruition towards the end of the novel).

While Caim traverses the countryside trying not to get killed, Josey struggles with life as a ruler. With unsatisfied ministers, a war gradually brewing and her life under immediate threat, the young empress more than has her hands full. This makes for a quick - if steep - learning curve and it’s an enjoyable experience watching her come into her own. Once an ineffectual figurehead, Josey is transformed here into an admirable patriarch.

It is neither of the two primary characters however who hold the real intrigue here. Caim himself remains as surprisingly uncharismatic as he did in the previous book and Josey’s presence is not as prominent as one would’ve hoped. It is in fact the sorcerous Sybelle who steals the show. Intent on proving herself to her father and master, she strives to take control of the lands through her lover and royal puppet Duke Erric. Her unstable mind, fearsome powers and monstrous son Soloroth, all make for a more fascinating character than any others in the book.

Unfortunately though, despite the significant plot progressions and occasional moments of excitement, Shadow’s Lure fails to really engage. The various battles and skirmishes feel too frequent and prolonged, failing to generate tension and holding the pace of the novel back. Caim himself is amiable but hardly engrossing, and it takes a while for Josey’s troubles to really take off.

Caim’s fairy friend Kit experiences her own dilemmas here, but it’s hard to drum up any real enthusiasm for her situation. The personal developments between her and Caim also feel unnecessary and contribute little to the narrative as a whole.

The author’s descriptive prose works as both a gift and a curse, enhancing the private ponderings of the protagonists while hindering the action-led scenes by prolonging them unduly.

Sadly, Shadow’s Lure fails to live up to it’s predecessor.

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Shadow’s Lure reader reviews

from UK

10-stars

I had a similar excenierpe as Stefan (the first commenter) with Eli Monpress. The books were released originally one at a time over a period of 3 months (btw I liked the original covers and don't like the omnibus one), and I thoroughly enjoyed them and was even hoping for a 2011 release for the final 2 books in the series, then the publisher decided to rerelease in the omnibus format and hold the release of the last 2 books until 2012. There was some confusion about exactly what it was, and I remember Rachel doing a post on her blog trying to explain it. It made its way into the fantasy/sci-fi section of the bookstores down here in Australia, but they regularly get things wrong in regards to where they put books. I've seen straight fantasy and sci-fi wind up in the UF/PR section and vice versa. The series does start out very light and fluffy, but it darkens up and the world and the characters gain some depth as it proceeds. Nice idea about gathering the smallish posts together. I often feel pressured myself to do a 'long' post for books, but seem to manage it, then again I can talk for a page about a single chapter of a book if I like it enough.

7.9/10 from 2 reviews

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