Review: Shadows Lure

This post will include my review of the book Shadows Lure by Jon Sprunk. It is the second in a series that started with Shadow’s Son, released in June 2011.

The text below is taken from the blurb on the back of the book.

Danger lurks in the unforgiving Northlands, and a sinister magic lurks in the shadows waiting for its moment to strike. It’s the worst place to be searching for something, even for an assassin with no loyalties and even fewer scruples…

In Othir, he was at the top of the food chain. An assassin beyond compare. A dark shadow in the night. But Caim left that life behind when he helped an empress claim her throne.

Now, searching for the truth behind the murder and disappearance of his parents in the bitterly cold Northlands of his birth, Caim finds himself in a land in thrall to the Shadow. A wielder of the darkest kinds of blood magic imaginable holds his homeland in their iron fist, crushing all opposition beneath their tyrannous boot. Haunted by temptations from the Other Side, by turns in control of his magic and at the mercy of the Shadow, Caim becomes mired in a war he does not want to fight.

But there are some things a son of the Shadow cannot ignore, and some battles from which he can’t run. If Caim is going to survive – and if he’s to uncover the truth about his own magic and his parent’s death – then he is going to have to fight. But will his strength and skill be enough? Can anyone resist the Shadow’s Lure… ?

This was a very enjoyable book to read. In some ways you could say that I would be biased in favour of it given my own fondness for having an assassin as the main character. That may be the reason I first picked up the series, it is certainly not the reason I kept reading it. Caim – the main protaganist – might have been an assassin in book one, but in this novel he is a young man who is in search for answers about his past. And it is a difficult search where he becomes an often unwilling participant in a poorly resourced rebellion.

There were a few times in the book where I question his reasons for getting involved but I nothing he did felt completely out of character and I think the Caim in book two did the things he did because he’s grown since the Caim in book one. Such personal growth has made him less self centred which makes him more willing to get involved.

My other criticism, which is minor, is that Caim spends the bulk of this book carrying one injury or another. He gets mauled by a bear in the opening pages and his opponents (and wounds) get worse from there. While there is a lot of reference to the cuts, gouges and bruises they don’t seem to hinder him to any serious extent during any of his numerous combats. There were a couple of times where I found myself thinking that his body should be a mass gore by now and yet he just kept on going.

Perhaps the shadow magic sustains and heals him without him (or us) being aware of it. I know we can’t have a hero that needs a lie down and a cup of tea after every fight after, but I would have like to see more consideration given to the vast array of injuries he’d received throughout the storyline.

The Josey storyline was more difficult for me to wrap my head around. I wasn’t really clear why the people were turning against the very same empress that just a few short months ago they were bleeding to put on the throne. I can understand that the depose rulers – the True Church – were upset at being ousted and that any established religion is going to have a lot of backing and clout among the people but it still didn’t feel quite right to me. Motivation issues aside I was very pleased by how it was handled and never found myself wishing the storyline would focus more on Caim and skip Josey entirely.

The other thing I enjoyed was that the character of Kit was better fleshed out – excuse the pun. She still remains something of an enigma. Why is she there? How did she end up with Caim? What is her purpose? These questions remain largely unanswered but perhaps that’s what book three will tell us.

In all Shadow’s Lure was good. I thought it was better than the first one and I liked that one a lot. My expectations are high and I am really looking forward to book three.


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