Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Author: Val Gunn
Pursued by an assassin, Hiril Altair races to stay alive long enough to reach sanctuary and deliver the evidence – evidence that will prove the world and their Sultan are not what they had believed. Steps from success he encounters the half-jinn kingslayer Ciris Sarn whose blade quickly ends Altair’s life as well as any chance for the truth to be known.
Val Gunn’s In the Shadow of Swords starts fast immediately grabbing the readers’ attention. The Arabian setting is engaging, the mystery involving their world unsettling and the motivations of a cursed assassin drive the plot forward. The mysticism, exotic local, and fast paced passages are the strengths of this novel.
Gunn’s chapters are quick snippets of action and jump from one character to the next. At times, it feels a bit like changing television channels after only getting a short piece of the story. During the first half of the book, it was a little difficult to follow what was happening and with each chapter and character I found myself wondering who I should be cheering for as they all seemed like bad guys hunting one another for a purpose that was not clear. Fortunately, at the half way point in the novel, these motivations and independent threads start to come together and the action builds to its ultimate climax and resolution.
Gunn builds and interesting and complex world and while this story in itself is complete, its ending leaves the door open for future adventures.