Clay Kallam's Reviews > The Conqueror's Shadow

The Conqueror's Shadow by Ari Marmell
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bookshelves: sf-fantasy

Ari Marmell’s “The Conqueror’s Shadow” (Ballantine, $26, 432 pages) has a lot going for it, but it still didn’t leave me completely satisfied. It’s a bloody, violent fantasy set in the typical pre-industrial, magical world with ogres, gnomes, demons and conquering warlords.

Marmell, however, spices it up with plenty of wit, and though sometimes the humor is a bit forced, it’s a welcome change of pace from the unrelenting blood and spewing internal organs of many other such novels. (I always wonder, though, why the violence is OK, but explicit sex is such a negative – is killing really that much superior to making love?)

Still, Marmell delves a little deeper than most, as the title suggests to those familiar with the psychology of Carl Jung, and he looks at how we all, even conquerors, have a shadow side of our personality that we must learn to accept. Corvis Rebaine, the Terror of the East, wears his shadow, in a way, in his black, spiked armor, but underneath he’s more than just a bloodthirsty general.

The adventure is a little bit unrealistic, as the villain fails to attack Rebaine’s family directly, and the big twist is completely implausible, but otherwise “The Conqueror’s Shadow” is a fun ride – and refreshingly, it’s complete in one volume. There is room for a sequel or two, which is all to the good, especially if Marmell can tighten up his plotting.

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Reading Progress

Started Reading
March 1, 2010 – Finished Reading
January 28, 2011 – Shelved
August 30, 2016 – Shelved as: sf-fantasy

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