June 2004
© 2004 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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Lord of the Shadows by Jennifer Fallon
Bantam Spectra PPBK: ISBN 055358670X PubDate: 06/01/04
Review by Madeleine Yeh

592 pgs. List price $ 6.99
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Lord Of Shadows is the third and last book of The Second Sons Trilogy. It starts immediately after the end of The Eye Of The Labyrinth . This is a fast paced story that brings the trilogy to a successful conclusion. The fascinating part of this book is not how it ends, this sort of genre trilogy always ends happily, but what happens along the way. This book has action and adventure and melodrama galore. It is the fantasy equivalent of a good, long summer movie. The trilogy has too many flaws to make this a great story or even a good one, but it makes enjoyable light reading.

As the story opens, Dirk Provin is ensconced in the enemy camp, second in the Shadow Dancer religion only to the High Priestess. Dirk is busily lying to and manipulating everyone and everything within reach, however not all his puppets react as predicted. Most notable among this group is Marquel who is rather grasping for power with verve and will and complete ignorance. As Dirk says to himself , “his genius was getting himself in plots so complex not even he could be sure how they would end.”

As an action novel, it's not bad. Its fast. There are murders and raids and political intrigue and illicit affairs. All the main characters do something. Dirk leads a raid on the rebel base, carefully not catching everyone, then makes himself High Priest of the Sun, then arranges a ceremony that ends with the Shadow Dancers discredited and then leads an army against Anatanov. Kirsh investigates his brother’s disappearance, leads a military expedition, loses his lover, quarrels with his wife, puts down a riot and goes off to a futile battle and an honorable death. Misha escapes to the enemy, fights an opium addiction and takes over his father’s kingdom. Tia Veran takes refuge in a distant manor with Misha and Mellie and there nurses Misha through is opium addiction. Almost all the major characters gather together for a religious ceremony that starts with pageantry and ends in confusion and riot.

The fun part of this novel is in the complex juggling act that Dirk find himself managing. The distressing part of the book is the “idiot” factor behind most of the action. Dirk’s servant, Eryk, is suppose to be a simpleton. The rest of the characters don’t have that excuse for stupidity. Two years in a royal palace have left Marquel completely ignorant of politics and power. Kirsh looks at the world through thick rose colored glasses, and is shocked, truly shocked that other people might have interests and motives of their own. Jacinta discusses a secret treasonous conspiracy without bothering to check for potential eavesdroppers. Alenor meets her illicit lover without any care for secrecy. The physical world and the social world are distressingly sketchy. While this is suppose to be a Science fiction book, set in a strange planet, this trilogy is easiest thought of as a fantasy. The physical incongruities are much less jarring.

The whole trilogy is enjoyable if you're looking for action, adventure and plot twists. You have to read fast and don’t stop to analyze anything. The writing is bearable although more than a little wordy. I enjoyed the characters’ antics but didn’t find any desired to reread this book to enjoy particular scenes or descriptions.

© 2004 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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