Shadow's Son by Jon Sprunk
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
SHADOW'S SON by new author Jon Sprunk is written in a fast-paced, take-no-prisoners style that, at least to me, evokes a feeling that reminds me of the popular video game, "Assassin's Creed." Not a bad thing! Like the game, SHADOW'S SON is a thrill ride from page one and doesn't let up.
The tale centers around Caim, an angst-ridden, dual knife-wielding contract killer, and Josephine, a pampered nobleman's daughter who shows more fire and mettle than expected. There's also Kit, a third protagonist of sorts, in the form of a mysterious fey spirit who only Caim can see and talk to. Sprunk does a dynamic job with developing the first two mentioned, while holding back in development of Kit; though I'm certain we'll find out more about her in the next book.
The villains in SHADOW'S SON are fairly typical bad guys who pretty much lack all scruples from the onset, and deliver no real surprises. Levictus is the most interesting of the villainous trio (Ral and Markus being the other two), as he's some sort of shadowmancer/assassin type and very creepy.
The storyline is fairly straightforward. This is a roving, romping adventure tale rather than a meandering, convoluted plot line. So, no huge surprises here, either. Sprunk's descriptors and dialogue are excellent, and he can definitely turn a phrase and give just the right amount of explanation to make the reader "see" just what he wants them to. In this way, I'd also compare SHADOW'S SON to a Jerry Bruckheimer/Disney type fantasy epic a la “Pirates of the Carribbean” and/or “Prince of Persia.”
Sprunk paints a vivid picture of his world in what I'd call a "primer" format, as the book clocks in at 278 pages, rather than in the epic novel format so popular these days of 500+ pages. And, unlike the immersive cosmographic efforts of talespinners like Brandon Sanderson, George R.R. Martin, or Patrick Rothfuss, Sprunk hands over to his readers a sample spoon of his worldbuilding to tantalize the appetite rather than whet it completely. SHADOW'S SON is more like the works of, say, David Gemmell or Joe Abercrombie. Not to say fans of the aforementioned authors wouldn't like this book, as all the authors I've mentioned are my favorites, so I'm giving Sprunk a big ol' compliment and an "atta boy!" I look forward to more, as Sprunk shows us a lot of promise in this debut novel of his. I'm hoping this is the beginning of a long and impressive career.
A high three stars (3.75) has me rounding up to FOUR. Definitely recommended.
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