Val Gunn,
In the Shadow of Swords
(Errant Press, 2010)

In the Shadow of Swords contains a large cast, an exotic, violent world and many inhabitants with nefarious intentions.

The plot consists of assassinations, the race for the Books of Promise and a whole lot of traveling. Most of the book seems to be people journeying through this world thinking about past or coming action. The action itself is quirky and explicit, but also so mysterious that it's hard to get the point or properly feel involved. That is to say: this book doesn't really make sense.

Ciris Sarn, the wandering assassin, seems to think completely different thoughts on the same subject at the drop of a hat, the vast, life-changing secrets of the Books of Promise seem to really be just one very specific lie, and most of the driving motivations seem off. Many parts of In the Shadow of Swords are also written out of order for no real reason.

I've spent a lot of time attempting to force the shape of this book into something that makes sense as a whole, but the best I can do is to say that if Ciris Sarn was only a peripheral character than I could work it out. However, as the Tales of Ciris Sarn, Book One, I've really only got one thing to say with certainty: there's a hell of a lot of traveling.

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book review by
Whitney Mallenby

11 June 2011

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