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Jennifer Fallon – Lord of the ShadowsLord of the Shadows is the third and final instalment in the Second Sons Trilogy by Jennifer Fallon; I found it to be the best of the lot (I'd actually suggests that this should have been a longer series, given how the quality improves from The Lion of Senet to The Eye of the Labyrinth to this one!) – the Trilogy ends on a High.

Dirk, now Lord of the Shadows, is still playing out his Masterplan on how to destroy the Shadowdancers whilst apparently betraying everyone and everything; meanwhile everyone else seems to be hell-bent on destroying him – for good reason, it appears? As things come to several climaxes the cast really starts dieing off…

Ok, first things first. This is by far the best book in the Trilogy, so, given the increasing quality of the books Jennifer Fallon should have kept going, and made is, ooh, 5 books minimum. Anyway, this IS enjoyable. There, I said it.
So, where are we? Dirk has joined the Shadowdancers, was made Lord of the Shadows and the right-hand man of the High Priestess, and, on the death of the Lord of the Sun (through a crossbow bolt meant for Dirk…), is made his successor, Lord of the Sun, Leader of the Church of the Sun. Quite a career, at 19 years of age.
Marquel, Acrobat, Whore, Shadowdancer, meanwhile, has killed everyone in her way to become Kirshow’s lover, but now, with Dirk (who despises her) at her side, sets her sights higher than the Regent of Dhevyn, and kills Belagren, the High Priestess of the Shadowdancers. Dirk’s information on the secrets he found in the ruins of Omaxin make her the new High Priestess, Voice of the Goddess, and lover of the Lion of Senet. Now all she needs is to conceive a child from him, and kill all other aspirants to the throne, and she’ll be Queen Mother. What a future!

Misha, the ‘Crippled Prince’, learns that he is slowly being poisoned by the Shadowdancers (who want Kirshow on the Throne), that he is a Poppy-dust addict (punishable by death in Senet), and takes the hint. He vanishes out of the Hospice where he’s been sent to recover (or, rather, die), and joins the Pirates in the Baenlands, where Johann Thorn (Dirk’s real father) used to hide. Yup, the heir to the Throne of Senet is now with his Father’s deadliest enemies. Voluntarily. And trying to kick the habit.
Kirshow, meanwhile, is losing his track on his hunt for glory and honour. His wife, Queen Alenor of Dhevyn, doesn’t let him near the marital bed. Marquel, the love of his life (too bad he’s only a stepping stone to greater things for her) deserts him for his father. And, whilst searching for his ‘abducted’ brother Misha, he kills scores of people, making him a hate figure even within Senet, where people adored him before. The stars are not in his favour, you could say.

Does this give you an idea of how complicated, artificial, and entwined the Gordian knot of story threads are in this trilogy? The book provides a who’s who at the end, but no introduction to the story or any kind of summary; it takes up where the 2nd book ended, and keeps going.
Over time you get an idea of the universe this story plays in, the (rather dubious) dual-sun system which one sun sometimes abruptly vanishing; with an earlier high(er) civilization which vanished without trace (except for some ruins which do/don’t convey the secret of the next age of shadows); and with a war torn, hideously complicated political structure, dominated by the (false) religious believes of the dominant ruler. ‘nuff said…

The actual break from the middle book in the Trilogy is artificial, the story goes straight on (reminds me a bit of the way the HHGTTG books link). Don’t even think of reading this without having read the earlier books – and, trust me, especially the first one is hard work.
On the upshot – this is a very enjoyable book, with a good drive, only very limited recourse to the artificial plot devices that plagued the earlier books in the series (ok, a lot of people die a premature death, which very neatly ties up loose ends and simplifies the storyline to reach a conclusion). I maintain that, maybe over 5 books, this could have been a truly magnificent series – there’s an interesting backdrop, a good story, and properly disturbed, clichéd and slightly 2-dimensional characters to build a good yarn from. Too bad Jennifer didn’t make the best of what she had!
I can absolutely recommend this book – the only downside is having to sit through the first 1 ½ books of the series, which are toe-curlingly painful to read - although, if you like soap operas with the typical non-lifelike co-incidence driven plots, you might be just fine.


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Title: Lord of the Shadows
Series: Second Sons Trilogy
Series Number: 3
Author: Jennifer Fallon
Reviewer: Markus
Reviewer URL: http://skating.thierstein.net
Publisher:  Bantam
Publisher URL: http://www.bandamdell.com
Publication Date: June 2004
Review Date: 8 August 2006
ISBN: 055358670X
Price: USD6.99
Pages: 569
Format: Paperback
Topic: Fantasy

 

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