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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An electrifying conclusion that won't let you go, 22 Jun 2004
By 
David Roy (Vancouver, BC) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Lord of the Shadows (Second Sons Trilogy) (Mass Market Paperback)
One of the common problems with trilogies is that the third book feels anticlimactic. The ending never lives up to the 1000+ page set-up. Jennifer Fallon thankfully does not fall prey to this in the Second Sons Trilogy. Lord of the Shadows is just as exciting and interesting as the first two books. I said in my review of Eye of the Labyrinth that I haven't read a book that fast in a long time. Lord of the Shadows broke even that record. I literally could not put it down, taking enough of a break to eat and that was about it.
Dirk Provin has apparently betrayed everything, and every one, he holds dear to return to the Shadow Dancers, the religion of the Goddess. Unbeknownst to everybody else, though, Dirk has his own plans to bring their religion down around them. His intricate plan involves reaching the highest levels and destroying it from within. To do so, however, everybody must think the worst of him, and he is forced to use the extremely amoral Marqel, a girl who would like nothing better than to destroy Dirk. Dirk walks a razor-thin edge to achieve his goals, and one wrong move will send him plummeting over the edge. He's a man alone, cutting himself off from everybody to do what he sees as the greater good. As he does so, the world teeters on the brink. Love blossoms, and then is destroyed. A crippled prince attempts to fulfill his destiny, a destiny that his power-hungry father never dreamed of. Will Dirk succeed in his quest, or will all of his plans crumble at the whim of a bratty child who would do anything to consolidate her own power?
It hit me after I put down Lord of the Shadows. After reading over 1500 pages of this series, there had only been two scenes of battle, and both of those had been very small. The only "magic" was a trick played on everybody in the kingdom. The entire Second Sons trilogy was a story of political intrigue on a grand scale. Lord of the Shadows is a lot more streamlined then the first two books, however, as everything revolves around Dirk. He even dominates the scenes that he's not in, as the discussion is often about him or how he relates to the characters in question. Dirk has asked his cousin, Queen Alenor, to trust him no matter what happens, and she does. Tia Veran, the woman who was more intimately betrayed by Dirk, continues her skepticism and hatred of the man, despite the fact that others seem to think he may have more up his sleeve then meets the eye. Lip service is given to the Lion of Senet's schemes, but even those are mentioned mostly in relation to how Dirk will defeat him. It's a better book for this precision, as every chapter leads inexorably to the final conclusion. Even the subplots (such as Prince Misha and his imposed addiction to poppy-dust) eventually run up against Dirk's plans.
I found the characterization even better then in the first two books, as the two minor annoyances (Marqel and Tia) have their edges filed down just enough so that they're interesting without being shrill. Tia still hates and distrusts Dirk, but her relationship with Misha softens that and gives her something to do other than bad-mouth him. Marqel is still the conniving harlot, but her internal voice is toned down a bit. Dirk is again characterized wonderfully as he has to constantly run to keep the various plates spinning. As it all looks set to come down around his ears, he's rescued from an unlikely source (one of the few things in the novel that's a little too coincidental). He quickly rights himself and keeps the ball rolling.
There were a couple of minor problems. The above-mentioned coincidence is one thing, and another is the convenient way that various relationships end. While the ending is downbeat for a few characters (including one tragic one that I didn't quite see coming, at least not in the fashion it happened), there are far too many "and they lived happily ever after" results as far as relationships go. This isn't a criticism of the ending, which is riveting, but more how things end up after the climax of the book.
One of the things I really liked about this entire series, especially Lord of the Shadows is how none of the characters are "clean." They all have their own motivations and sometimes those motivations result in some nasty things. Dirk is the protagonist, and his actions are resulting in a lot of innocent deaths. He's torn by each one of them, but he's willing to go through it in order to bring down the Shadow Dancers. The reader gets the impression, however, that no matter how much he's doing this for the people of Dhevyn and especially those "heretics" who don't believe in the Goddess, but he's also doing it because of what their religion has cost him personally. It's cost him his mother, his father, his adopted father, and his honor.
One final prop I'll give this book, and the entire series as well, is its unpredictability. So many times I thought I knew what was going to happen, only to have it pulled out from under me. Dirk unleashes his plan a lot earlier then I expected him to. The event that brings about the beginning of the end I thought was just going to be a demonstration to further install Marqel as High Priestess, so I was truly shocked. Fallon has a remarkable flare for the dramatic, and that entire chapter held me tightly. This applies to her prose throughout the entire book.
Pick this entire series up. If you like fantasy (and don't mind that there isn't much hack-n-slash), you'll love it.
David Roy
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a great end to an amazing trilogy, 28 Feb 2006
By 
An excellent trilogy from Jennifer Fallon.
The third book brings us to the end of a cunning and extraordinary plot. Dirk the young and gifted bastard son of a banned ruler is the mastermind behind this plot.
Sacrifice of other lives, manupulation and trust no matter what are well described is this book.
Jennifer Fallon is a must read for the Fantasy lovers. I would say it is comparable with Robin Hobb but faster and more straightforward.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Neris had once told him he needed to be a better liar", 17 Dec 2004
By 
Sebastian Fernandez (Tampa, Florida United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Lord of the Shadows (Second Sons Trilogy) (Mass Market Paperback)
After the first two books I was afraid that the conclusion of the trilogy would not be as good as I was expecting, since just keeping up with the quality level set before seemed to be almost impossible. Luckily, my fears were set to rest as soon as I started reading this book and I could enjoy one of the best fantasy works I have read so far. Fallon delivers a conclusion that has the reader constantly guessing about Dirk's plans, Marquel's machinations and the complicated relationships among the different characters.
At the end of the second novel I found myself running to the bookstore to get the final installment, since there was too much excitement in the story. Marquel had just murdered the High Priestess, Belagren, and was playing her games to obtain the position. Dirk, following his plans, has just betrayed Tia after sleeping with her, but then helped her escape. She is back in Mil, certain that Dirk betrayed her and is trying to convince everyone else in the Beanlands of Dirk's trickery. There is one person though, that sees clearly through Dirk's plans, none other than Neris!
In terms of our main character, Dirk, we find a man that is tormented by the doubts about whether his plan is going to work and also whether the sacrifices he is making are justified. Besides the games of politics and deception in which he is involved, he has to deal with the Brotherhood, a group of assassins that have been hired by the Baenlanders to kill him. He also has to be careful with the way he handles his relationship with the most powerful man in the kingdom, the Lion of Senet.
If you have read the first two books, I know I do not have to convince you to read the last one, because no one could refrain from doing it. I can only assure you that you will not be disappointed by the conclusion of the trilogy. If you are not familiar with the series, I recommend that you get "The Lion of Senet" right now and immerse yourself in the wonderful Second Sons Trilogy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, 17 Sep 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: Lord of the Shadows (Second Sons Trilogy) (Mass Market Paperback)
Cant wait for the next installment
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic trilogy , read all three in 2 weeks - that good!, 23 Dec 2008
By 
A. J. Sudworth "tonysudworth" (UK) - See all my reviews
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I'm writing this after finishing all three books in this trilogy and once again I have been very very impressed. If you were looking for dragons, long treks to fulfill quests etc then this may be a bit short in that department - but if you want a story that cracks along over 1500 pages, is all about political intrigue and the corrupting influence of power and religion then this is a great read. I won't even begin to try and summarise the plot , suffice to say it complicated and full of people that are very nasty. Loved it - and am off to read some other ones now - highly recommended !
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Lord of the Shadows (Second Sons Trilogy)
Lord of the Shadows (Second Sons Trilogy) by Jennifer Fallon (Mass Market Paperback - 1 Jun 2004)
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