Shadow’s Lure was a book I had been waiting for since I sunk my teeth into the excellent Shadow’s Son. Much like Caim, I couldn’t wait to travel North in search of answers to all the questions present in the first book. As Shadow’s Lure is the second book in Jon Sprunk’s trilogy, I didn’t, however, expect to get all answers and I was ready for a long and bloody journey, with a path littered with bloody fights and ever increasing danger.
I wasn’t disappointed.
Caim has left for the North, with Kit in tow, and he is about to walk into more trouble than he ever bargained for. Not only does he find himself involved in a rebellion he is tied to by his origins, but he is about to learn more than he ever wanted to about his family—and himself. Caim is still the same dry and sarcastic man we learnt to love in book one. His conscience haunting him more than ever and many feelings that he spent years repressing are threatening to burst out all at once, especially when Kit goes missing and the presence of other shadow-users is made clear.
But Caim isn’t the only point-of-view in this story and when the narrative turns back to Othir, we’re reunited with Josey, now Empress, and Hubert, now Lord Chancellor. Josey’s part of the story is all about politics, intrigue, and attempted murder as she battles the True Church in an attempt to put the country she loves and wants to serve back on the right track. As she tries to gain the support of the nobles, Josey receives news that both frightens and strengthens her (I will avoid mentioning here so I don’t spoil the surprise!). On top of it all, she has to survive assassination attempts.
The cast is well rounded, and there are some interesting additions to our three mains. Keegan especially stuck with me as Sprunk adds a most interesting detail about him (again, something I’ll withhold as I’m not fond of giving away even little spoilers!). All I will say is that it’s not something I had seen done in a fantasy novel before and I found it a truly interesting detail that added a strong sense of realism to both the characters and the events around him.
Overall, the book was exactly what I expected: Sprunk writes classic sword and sorcery, which at times reads like an extract out of a Dragon Age game, with its eerie dungeons and hordes of enemies. Caim goes from one fight to another and the book mostly keeps a breakneck speed. The middle of the book seemed to lose a bit of its own pace, slowing down unnecessarily in the middle of what would have otherwise been a really eerie and action filled part. But it finds its pace again towards the end when Sprunk offers a final confrontation reminiscent of a tough boss fight.
Sprunk’s style has improved since book one and flows even more, making the book a pleasure to read. And with secrets being unveiled here, there, and everywhere, Shadow’s Lure is sure to keep you reading late in the night (unless you do like me and stall at that bit in the middle…).
Overall it was a great, fun, and definitely boyish book that should appeal to all the sword and sorcery fans out there.