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In the Shadow of Swords

1 rating: 2.0
A book by Val Gunn

A brutal assassin, a drug-addicted spy, and a vengeful widow are embroiled in a potentially world-shaking conspiracy in Gunn's convoluted political fantasy, the launch title for indie Errant Press. When Ciris Sarn, a curse-bound half-jinn, murders Hiril … see full wiki

Tags: Books
Author: Val Gunn
Publisher: Errant Press
1 review about In the Shadow of Swords

Complex, intriguing, frustrating and fascinating both at once

  • Mar 21, 2011
Bound up in a delightfully atmospheric cover, In the Shadow of Swords by Val Gunn is a novel full of atmosphere and complexity. Set in a world evocative of the Arabian Nights, there are plots, counter-plots, betrayals, unexpected alliances, magic, swords, compulsion and free-will all vying for attention. The story can be confusing at times, each short chapter like a nugget of information all tangled together with the villain’s identity changing and ever in question.

A powerful opening scene introduces Ciris Sarn, assassin bound to obey yet longing to be free. His victim dies, but the assassin’s small rebellion sets in motion counter-plots whose threads spread far and wide. And the victim’s wife, Marin, plans a vengeance with its own far-reaching consequences. Characters move in and out of view—ally and villain and everything in between. Monsters are released, identities questioned and changed. But the novel really comes to life in the second half when Marin sets out on her quest.

The Books of Promise hold the secrets of this mysterious universe, but the last volume is missing, and the other four must be kept from evil hands. Mysteries abound as characters fight for power, redemption and blessing, and nobody is quite what he or she must seem.

In the Shadow of Swords is a confusing story, oddly intriguing, oddly annoying, and long in the telling though the short chapters are beautifully drawn. I might almost have liked a glossary explaining how to pronounce the characters’ names, and explaining the meanings of various forms of office and politics portrayed in the tale. But perhaps there’ll be another volume sometime—there’s certainly an opening for a sequel and intriguing enough characters to carry one.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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