The Shadow Saint by Gareth Hanrahan


Hanrahan takes a new approach in this follow-up to The Gutter Prayer, which was one of my favorite reads from 2019. While The Gutter Prayer had a nice mix of world-building, action, and character development, The Shadow Saint changed focus and spent about half the book on politics. Guerdon's leadership is in ruins after suffering so much damage from The Crisis about ten months before when The Shadow Saint picks up. Eladora, a supporting character from tGP, is thrust into the spotlight this time around, as her intelligence and family's (and personal) involvement in the Crisis has given her a unique perspective on Guerdon's history and how to best recover.

The city struggles to stay neutral during the War of the Gods, which is raging in all the surrounding nations. War Gods are leading nations to rise and conquer above others, and Guerdon's defenses and historic neutrality may no longer be able to withstand the horrors and side effects of what a Gods War would have when brought to the doorstep of their remote nation.

We are introduced to two new POVs: Terevant, the younger brother to an important mililtary and political leader, but pales in comparison and track record to his esteemed and famous sibling; and my personal favorite, The Spy, who wears personalities like clothes, and is able to change them just as easily. Terevant is called in to Guerdon to investigate the murder of an ambassador, while The Spy brings his ward, a young boy who is mentally linked to the Spider God, into the city for unknown purposes. The Spy is incredibly resourceful, and his agenda and purpose remains mysterious, but I will say that the end of the story has some huge implications for what the trilogy's conclusion may bring.

But fans of Cari, Rat, and Spar need not worry -- all appear, in some form or another, and of varying degrees, in The Shadow Saint. The implications of Spar's fate at the end of The Gutter Prayer was one of the most interesting things I was looking forward to exploring in this sequel, and it did not disappoint. And once Eladora, Terevant, and The Spy's paths start to converge around the halfway mark of the book, it almost feels like it becomes a completely different story. There is breathless action, incredibly creative set pieces, and, a *massive* ending that spans 150+ pages that you'll want to put aside a full evening to read so you won't have to put it down.

The Shadow Saint at times felt like a political thriller, a noirish murder mystery, a James Bond/Mission Impossible mashup, and a dash of Clash of the Titans. It's a weird combination of things, but it works. Really, really well. Hanrahan reminds me of Robert Jackson Bennett in terms of deep and rich world-building with a lot of thought put into how the supernatural affects various aspects of society. It's a ripping read, and recommended.

Review by

All reviews for Gareth Hanrahan's The Black Iron Legacy series

The Gutter Prayer
The Black Iron Legacy #1

A group of three young thieves are pulled into a centuries old magical war between ancient beings, mages, and humanity in this wildly original debut epic fantasy. [...]

The Shadow Saint
The Black Iron Legacy #2

Thieves, dangerous magic, and a weapon built with the power to destroy a god clash in this second novel of Gareth Hanrahan's acclaimed epic fantasy series, The Black Ir [...]


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