Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Review of Shadow's Son by Jon Sprunk

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 . . .
Caim the main character in this story has had a pretty rough life. So much so that he has taken a life of crime, espionage and of course... Contract killing. Because we all know that devising complex assassination schemes is the only thing left to do when things start getting tough for a bloke. No, seriously, Shadow's Son is one of those novel's for me that I began and was not sold right away on the main character. It took me a little while to figure out if I was going to like him. I bring this up because I don't know if it was the authors intent to lay the story out this way or maybe I am being way to analytic. For me, it comes back to the age old debate of hero / antihero and good vs. evil and all that. defines antihero as: "a protagonist who lacks the attributes that make a heroic figure, as nobility of mind and spirit, a life or attitude marked by action or purpose, and the like." Caim kills people and he does it well and without emotion. The act is just a job. But at the end of the story you may just have a different opinion. Caim and his story had one saving grace for me at the beginning and that was Kit. That is not to say however that I would have passed on this because if you like action, blood, knives, guts and arterial spray then this is definitely a boat you want to be on. A friend and fellow blogger at The Stamp (of Approval) makes the remark, "I admit, I have a penchant for assassins. Am I the only one?" Well, I am here to throw in on the assassin band wagon. I don't know about everyone else but, I was gung-ho for creeping around in my ninja footed jammies as a kid. Sneaking around and getting the jump on Mom when I thought she wasn't looking, I was all about that stuff as a kid. Then onto my teenage years when I was plotting how I was going to sneak out of the house and furthermore, how I was going to sneak Mom's car out of the carport without her waking up. Yeah... I was an assassin with a car!? What are you going to say. Last but not least, there has to be a little bit of that same assassin in us that gets us up at 3:00 in the morning to make that trek in the near freezing cold to the solitude of a seemingly desolate mountain. The excitement that makes us climb a tree 20 feet in the air to sit with the bitter winds and contemplate the meanings of the universe. All for that one moment when everything goes quiet, you hear the small rustling of the brush below. The brief glimpse of your potential prey to be a stag of epic massiveness and horns that reach to the heavens. The blood racing through every vein in your body at mock speeds. Your increasing heartbeat that your mind tries to force down in seconds to keep you from leaping around like a monkey. But no, you quell your thoughts and ever so slowly pull up your well loved and honed bow. You draw the nocked arrow back to your cheek and wait. At that moment you are one with your surroundings. You feel nothing and yet everything about the moment. The only motion is the slow warm bursts of breath that seep into the air like a fine mist only to dissipate a few short seconds later. It is only you and the beast. And one of you is not going to leave these woods. You find your opening as if you were holding life itself in your hands, and then you let go. The world erupts like a volcano in your body. A thousand thoughts stream through your head as you scramble out of your nest in pursuit of your families food for the next few weeks. You've done well, you think to yourself... I am a master assassin. Maybe for me that is what makes me love these assassin books so much. Now on with the review!

The pace of Shadow's Son was, well... pretty perfect. It was fast pretty much the entire read with some of the intense scenes that keep you reading just to find out what happens next. Josephine (Josey) was introduced relatively early in the story and like Caim she had a rocky start but if you give her time, I think she rounds out really well and ends this story like a person of her station should. In this particular aspect of the ending it seemed very fairy tale storyesque but I think that it was appropriate and it works. I didn't really see it coming though and that was nice. Sometimes you see these things a mile away and it kind of ruins it. But this was cool and I loved it. Your probably wondering what I am babbling on about but I am not giving things away... So if your reading this then your just going to have to go read the book after your done listening to me babble and find out for yourself.

I am just going to briefly touch on Kit although she is probably one of my favorite aspects of the story. Kit is a ghost / spirit / demon / I don't have any more names to describe exactly what she is because partly it is still kind of a mystery even to Caim himself. Lets just say that our wonderful author has given us a sidekick or counterpart to our multifaceted con-hero that is beautiful, smart and sexy in a spirit like way and the real kicker is that nobody (atleast human) can see her except Caim. Awesome! I am really hoping we get to see a lot more development on the whole Kit - Caim dynamic. I have a gut feeling that together these two will wreak some pretty spectacular chaos when they come into their own. I think this lack of knowledge about their abilities slows the story down a little bit. But I am hoping this just adds to the development for the next two novels in the series.

Caim, Josey and Kit have a main opponent aside from other impending dooms that kind of glazes over my above stated lag. And that of course comes in the form of a little baddy named Leviticus. Yes, the real question this book asks is can the real evil in a book carry the hero's until they come into their powers and abilities. Was Mr. Pratchett correct when he said, "Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it." The answer to that is "YES"! I looked forward to when the breeze would blow then slow as Leviticus entered stage right with a silence that chilled everyone in the room. Including me and I am not even in the book! His presence added new dimension to the scenes and I found myself gripping the edges of the book waiting for him to pop in. I was sad when the aliens came in their little space shuttles and took him away!***

In summation, Shadow's Son is one fabulous first novel. Despite my little stumble with Caim at the beginning Sprunk has created some truly great characters that as the plot unfolds, thickens and wraps you up in it, just keep getting better. Your really going to want to have the next novel on hand for when you finish this one so you can jump right back into the action. I can tell you true that I am a 3rd of the way into Shadow's Lure (Book 2) and it does just keep getting better. Something is building and it is going to be HUGE! Jon, if your reading this... No pressure and keep up the excellent work. I LOVE this series thus far. Thanks for giving me yet another good read that I can recommend and pass on to all my friends.

4.5/5 Quills


  1. Yes! Does that make us an assassin guild yet?

    Great review. I thought Shadow's Lure was at the same level of goodness. :)

  2. Heck Yeah! We need an old castle for our meetings too. Complete with secret rooms chalk full of weapons!
    Shadow's Lure is starting off strong. Glad to hear it's not losing momentum.