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Where to start on this one? Wolf in Shadow is a postapocalyptic heroic fantasy western with gunslingers, farmer folk, eskimos, magic stones, and a superhero driven by (among other things) religion, the love of a good woman, and a compulsion to find the City of Jerusalem. Enough different tropes there for you? Throw in Atlantis and a few others that shall remain surprises.
I am a huge fan of David Gemmell’s books. This one, written in 1987, is not typical. It is not 'historical fantasy' (Lion of Macedon, the Troy trilogy) or set in a medieval Earth-based fantasy world (the Drenai books and others). Its setting is a postapocalyptic, near-future Earth. The apocalypse was Earth tipping on its axis, with civilization (and most people) having been destroyed in massive floods as oceans and land masses switched places.
Why the people who are left should have become a society like that of the 18th century American West is never explained, other than by the fact that David Gemmell apparently grew up with an obsession for American western movies. Jon Shannow, the Jerusalem Man, arrives toting a gun and a Bible, in scenes vaguely reminiscent of the classic film 'Shane.' I can’t even begin to describe the events that follow. They come fast and furious, with constant action and unexpected twists and turns.
This is the third book set in world where magic is generated by golden Sipstrassi “stones of power.” The first two, “Ghost King” and “Last Sword of Power,” are loosely (*very* loosely) based on Arthurian legend, so there is a major jump in time. I recommend reading the first two--which are more typical of Gemmell’s style--first, especially Last Sword of Power, for reasons I won't explain due to spoiler potential.
I found Jon Shannow and his sidekick Batik unique, fascinating, and fully developed characters. I really enjoyed the book, even though it pulled too many rabbits out of hats (or, if you prefer, deuses out of machinas). It’s a breathless whirl of action that, in the final climactic battle, become a little Too Much--hence the WTF factor. The epilogue is highly satisfying, though, and the Shannow saga should have ended there, which I’ve read was what Gemmell originally intended. However, he went on to write two sequels. I read “The Last Guardian” years ago and did not like it and never bothered with the final one, “Bloodstone.”
The narrator is Christian Rodska. I think he's a great narrator and here he does a terrific job with a wide range of characters. However, I note that on Audible UK, a reviewer has taken the trouble to post a rather nasty diatribe about the narration under all three Shannow books, so I guess some people don’t agree with me, and you’d better listen to the narration sample.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
This is well done fiction and it skips along at a good pace. Personally, I don’t read fiction because I’m interested in the lives of imaginary people - I read fiction to be exposed to new ideas.
This book didn’t challenge or intrigue me with new ideas or new points of view. It is competently written and executed but very formulaic. If that’s your jam, you’ll dig it.
I’ll keep looking for another series.
narrators attempt at accents really poor. Turned Jon Shannow into Jason Statham doing a cockney hard man!!!
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
I got hooked on David Gemmel through his Drennai books, then his Sipstrassi books surpassed even those. So when I found them on audio I had to have them. True, the narration could be a little better, but if you don't allow that to detract from the story then you're in for a shell of a ride. To be honest, I didn't find Christian Rodska all that bad as a narrator, certainly not as bad as others have made him out to be (except for the Chinese accent). I'm just glad I didn't let the negativity over the narrator deter me from getting this amazing audio book.