In Review: Shadow’s Master

Shadow's Master by Jon SprunkBy Jon Sprunk
Publisher: Pyr
Out: 27th March 2012 (Paperback)

The Book

The assassin Caim, the mysterious, ethereal Kit occasionally at his side, must venture to the frozen Northlands to finally reclaim his destiny, a land of death and shadow where only the strongest survive.

Yet that is where Caim must go to follow the mystery at the heart of his life. Armed only with his knives and his companions, he plunges into a world of eternal night where the sun is never seen and almost every hand is turned against him. Only Kit, spectral vision and often unreliable accomplice, will stand by Caim in his darkest hour. But how much can he rely on her, when he can’t even fulfil her greatest wish? Kit is in love with her companion, and he may not even know it. And even a Fae’s tolerance will only last for so long…

Deep in the north an unfathomable power lays waiting. To succeed in this mission, Caim will have to more than just survive. He must face the Shadow’s Master.

The Review

After ten year’s hard work, and having published a number of short stories, Jon Sprunk broke into the world of Serious Publishing with his knock-out debut novel Shadow’s Son. It was an immensely enjoyable yarn, as was the sequel, Shadow’s Lure (reviewed here). At last, the final novel in his first dark fantasy trilogy is now on sale – and Sprunk delivers a powerful finale to the assassin-turned-freedom fighter Caim’s story, offering openings for further tales in the same world.

Caim is very definitely an anti-hero – an assassin by trade coming to terms with his past, turned champion as he’s pitted against dark forces that have shaped his entire life and imprisoned his mother in a terrible limbo between worlds. In Shadow’s Master, Sprunk really puts Caim through the mill as he atones for his past by acts of bravery, driven partly by his search for his mother but also a love of the ethereal Fae, Kit.

Meanwhile, events initiated in the earlier novels – namely, the fate of a pregnant, uncertain Empress – also reach their nail-biting conclusion, as she’s forced to fight for her realm against the Shadow Master’s deadly minions. Allies are few and the stakes high.

Throughout, Sprunk weaves a superb story, switching between storylines with aplomb, all the while delivering not just a great story but ensuring it’s one with a rich, textured background. He doesn’t just create believable characters – he creates a marvellous, believable setting in which those characters fight for their lives. Whether describing a duel between two characters in the dead of night or a huge battle, he does so with consummate care and imagination.

In a posting on the Tor Books site, Sprunk reveals he almost gave up trying to sell his longform work, despite some success selling short stories. I for one am so glad he persevered. Caim the assassin’s tale may now be over but I will be looking forward to more stores from this accomplished author.

Buy Shadow’s Master from amazon.com

Buy Shadow’s Master from amazon.co.uk

• Jon Sprunk’s official web site: www.jonsprunk.com

• Jon Sprunk’s official blog: http://jonsprunk.blogspot.com

 

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