[Book Review] Assassin plus ghost plus girl equals destiny

shadowsunBook Review: Shadow’s Son by Jon Sprunk

You can just about taste the atmospheric Assassin’s Creed trailer on the pages.


That’s Caim for you. Assassin by trade, loner by choice, haunted by the memories of his murdered father and the quite lively and talkative ghost named Kit whom only he can see. Caim goes around murdering folks for money right up until he gets a shady job that sets him up.

Betrayal, mystery, shadow magic, action!

It was all very assassin adventure story…right up until page 25, when the novel’s second character was introduced:

“Wait. What is a sixteen-year-old debutante doing in my assassin action caper?”

Meet Josey.

Josephine starts out as a rich noble’s daughter, with her mind set on being a dutiful daughter and getting married, ends up rescued by Caim, and goes on to become an interesting foil for Caim’s relentless badassery and an compelling character in her own right. (Well done!)

Sidenote: Caim’s transformation from a heartless sell-sword to a full-hearted armsman was a little more fuzzy. Redemption through Josephine’s goodness? Don’t know, don’t care.

Overall, the story reminded me of the Jason Bourne movies: A gentle dab of amnesia, super-excellent fighting skills, a pretty love interest out of her depth, and sinister forces out to get our hero. Oh, and lots of neat action sequences. Perhaps in the book’s effort to break out of its uncomplicated hack-and-slash patterns, the reader is treated to an unnecessary (and mercifully brief) rape scene, presumably there to add cheap grit to the escapade.

The book is a straightforward sword and sorcery adventure with a couple mysteries, a few creepy villains, and reminds me quite a bit of the later RA Salvatore Drizzt D’Urden books. Or maybe a video game. Conflicts arose and were solved: boss battles are followed by clues or near escapes as the narrative raced towards its inevitable conclusion.

And while I can absolutely see how folks might love it, it left me a bit impatient to get on with it.

Canary Verdict:

(It’s not so much that I didn’t like it. It’s more that I was just bored.)

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2 thoughts on “[Book Review] Assassin plus ghost plus girl equals destiny

  1. Upon your review ( sideways recommendation), I guess I’ll pass on this one. What did Bova say about novels? You might have flawless narrative, but if you don’t have a great plot, forget it. Something to that effect.

    • It was definitely a mismatch in expectations. I was looking for clever and twisty, and instead I got a straight line. I love when plots (or stories or worlds) genuinely surprise me; there’s nothing like it.

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