Manrix's Reviews > The Warlock's Shadow

The Warlock's Shadow by Stephen Deas
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's review
Jan 22, 2012

really liked it
Read from January 22 to 26, 2012

For a while there, I had this book on my shelf, but I was kind of worried this YA novel would be too much Y and not enough A. Silly me. I should've remembered who the author is.

Having read several dozen novels since part one of this series (The Thief-taker's Apprentice) came out, I was, for the first time, happy to find these little recaps of book one. They were short, unobstrusive, and helped me really get back into the story, even if this one is less of a stand-alone than the last one. That also means I can't bloody wait for book three.

I like the relationship between Berren and Syannis. Master Sy does not become some overly righteous father figure, and Berren is not some obedient little boy with nothing but respect. They remain themselves; products of their environments. Syannis still does all kinds of things without even telling Berren about it, and Berren goes around doing all kinds of things of questionable repute.
The most annoying thing about this, of course, is that you still don't know what exactly the relationships are between the Emperor, the Sun-king and the people from Syannis' homeland. You can't help but share Berren's exasperation at the lack of understanding of how everything is connected, as Syannis is pretty much a bitter, broken man, leading to a very interesting ending of this novel, which I will not spoil.

The best thing about Berren is how he is with girls. The whole 'falling in love with the first girl you see' -which he more or less did in book one- is a staple in any boy's life, and one I was pretty much done with. Book two marks a certain growth in him in this respect. But what I love most is how his teenage mind just goes crazy whenever he glimpses breasts. And in a society like Deephaven, a little money goes a long way...
His attitude toward being trained by a girl is predictable, if understandable. Having grown up in an all-boys environment, beaten everyday by bigger boys and Master Hatchet, I suppose he would have trouble respecting a girl's martial prowess. Which makes it all the more fun when he gets his arse handed to him.

Saffran Kuy gets some new depth in this novel, and it is a disturbing abyss of depth. I'm not sure how he fits into all this, but apart from being creepy, his skills with the dead and the living alike have been giving disoncerting new facets. His skills are also the reason some of the "Adult" in "Young Adult" comes into play rather graphically.

All in all, I like how the story actually progressed. There is a real change in the possibilities of the story's end. I don't see how things could return to normal, which leaves you without the safety of knowing all will work out in the end, because really, how could it? It is not unlike the feeling I got in Robin Hobb's Farseer Trilogy, at the end of book two / beginning of book three. The uncertainty is a good think, I think. How would you know what life will bring?

Good story (unafraid to pull out the rug from under you), great ending (yearning for more), well-developed characters and suitable for YA without being bland and prudish (to the contrary, even!). Could I ask for more? Yes.
Could I have some more, please?

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01/22/2012 page 91
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