Review of Shadow’s Lure by: Jon Sprunk
Surely, sequels are a tedious task for writers because they have to improve upon the last installment of a particular series.First novels are inherently difficult like any writing project but you do not have knowledge yet of the expectations that savvy readers have created. Many times, the writer has to focus intently upon the natural course that all the characters are obligated to follow in the case of sequel. Shadow’s Son therefore was the formative stages of a very expansive story. Interestingly, the word “son” in the title connotes a introductory stage of the novel. Therefore, in the first novel, we were offered a fast-paced, concise story set within one environment amongst an even larger world. In “Shadow’s Lure,” Jon Sprunk expands the scope of the story to involve other kingdoms and a whole range of new characters who inhabit these new terrains.
Following the Star Wars template, the second novel also delves closer into the mystery of Caim’s being or origins. Within Empire Strikes Back, we learned more in-depth information about Luke’s endowment of being able to hone the force. In this story, Caim explores his shadow powers which greatly enhanced his ability to overcome greater challenges within his past. Now, he is having doubts about this intrinsic connection to the shadow. Is this shadow ultimately a benevolent or malicious force? How much free will can he afford with this power that appears to have greater control than him? All the characters similarly face this same conflict between their autonomy and the restraining power of authoritative forces among them.
In the first novel, Josey appears straight-laced and she often remains complicit with her superiors. Caim’s autonomy, in a sense, liberates her from the restraints of her insular life and challenges her to assert herself more. Within “Shadow’s Lure,” Josey willfully enters a role where a city is dependent upon her aptitude to rule justly. In the beginning, she experiences doubts about her ability to rule deftly. She even begins to examine the power that others have upon her. Much like Caim and other characters within this particular novel, Josey must undergo the struggle of remaining true to herself among the many contrasting expectations or roles the others thrust upon her. Ironically, Caim and Josey must face this same daunting challenge of seeking out their autonomy within a world that seems where they feel enmeshed with a superior force who dictates the type of person they are.
Skillfully, Jon Sprunk delves into the complexity of each character while writing vivid, exciting action sequences. Oftentimes, characters become muddled by the bombastic nature of action sequences. Any author, especially fantasy writers, have to maintain their character’s personalities within the midst of chaotic action. Jon Sprunk’s enviable skill with action scenes extends to other areas of his writing. He can summarily describe things which are considered exposition and yet still maintain the high-octane action of a particular scene. Also, his female characters are not superficial damsels in distresses or undeveloped “sheroes.” Instead, they’re fully-realized characters who face some of the same demoralizing trials that any of the male characters would face. Jon Sprunk admirably does not shape them into politically-correct female characters who are strong by default without any authentic challenges. When I thought about Josey’s evolution as a character, I was profoundly impressed by the care that Jon Sprunk took into slowly developing her into a different person than she was within the first novel.
Sometimes, there was moments where the story was temporarily uninteresting. Meaning, there were peaks of actions but the action sometimes settled into scenes that were slow. But, these scenes were pivotal because the exposition offered within these scenes contributed to the story. Many times, fantasy books become burdensome because the exposition is extraneous. It does nothing but make a novel desultory. Therefore, the reader feels that reading the novel is ultimately unsatisfying. Luckily, these novels offer readers a cathartic release because Jon Sprunk focuses on the characters and allow the fantasy world to slowly be developed at the same pace as the characters.
Overall, Shadow’s Lure was a fantastic sequel to the first novel that was truly one of the biggest surprises of last year. I have become very disillusioned with fantasy novels because they’re often too convoluted and the characters appear to be empty husks. Shadow’s Lure is filled with “mindful” action rather than mindless action. While it is filled to brim with action sequences, it is also filled with characters who are dynamic. The action itself often achieves a vividness that is rare within novels. Oftentimes, I am overstimulated by the action that takes place within fantasy novels because the breadth of the novel cannot sustain itself in the heat of the action. Instead, the action sequences naturally progress from the scenes that are heavy with dialogue. By the end, I greatly admired the characters and was left with an insatiable need to read the next installment. Only well-constructed series can achieve that type of addictive psychological reaction. Hopefully, next summer means another novel being written within either this world or some other.
Thanks Pyr for providing a complimentary copy of this book!!! The fantastic cover art and quality of some your novels never fails to impress me!