*BOOK REVIEW* Bane and Shadow by Jon Skovron
‘A killer adventure fantasy follow-up to HOPE AND RED, set in a fracturing empire spread across savage seas, where two young people from different cultures find common purpose.
Red is being trained as a cold-blooded assassin by the biomancers. As he becomes increasingly embroiled in palace politics, he learns that even life among the nobility can be deadly.
While terrorizing imperial ships as the pirate Dire Bane, Hope stumbles onto a biomancer plot of such horrifying scope that it makes even the massacre of her childhood village seem small in comparison.
With the biomancers tightening their grip of fear over the empire, Hope and Red struggle to fill their new roles and responsibilities, but the cost will be greater than any of them realize’
Bane and Shadow picks up almost immediately where Hope and Red left off (you can read my review of Hope and Red here); Red is with the biomancers after giving himself up to free Hope, who is now sailing the high seas under the name of Dire Bane, an infamous pirate.
First off, I’ll be honest, I LOVED Hope and Red, it had a freshness about it and the world built by the author was outstanding; so I opened up Bane and Shadow with a lot of expectation. Luckily, there was not let down in sight!
In Bane and Shadow we have the same trope of characters – some are in rather unexpected places – with a few small additions, all of whom offer something to the story (thank God!)
Rixidenteron (or Red as he is or commonly known) is living it up with the aristocracy, ribbing shoulders with the future King, and being trained/experimented on by biomancers in the meantime. There is a nice little side story within Rixidenteron’s arc, as he is troubled by a ‘shadow demon’ that is finding small pockets of resistance against the biomancers and is slaughtering them. Rixidenteron makes it his mission to find this shadow demo and out and end to it. The author also sets up the court politics within this story and introduces other lands and other cultures, something that could make this a world that could be expanded and expanded (which i hope it is!).
Hope – sailing under the fearsome name of Dire Bane – with her crew (new additions of Red’s inventive cousin, and a complicated biomancer, Brigga Lin), are sailing the high seas and capturing vessels with links to the biomancers. Hope was the one part of this story that didn’t do everything for me; she was tough as hell in the first novel but we never quite see her specialist skills put to use here. I mean fine, she has lost a hand, but come on, she still could have swung something about, ell, it would ave been cool to see her lose and then do something to re-hone her skills.
Bane and Shadow is a good follow-up novel to Hope and Red and introduces the pecking order of the biomancers and their e’er so devious plots. What the author does well is to give us an insight into the biomancer culture and their lifelong goal of total domination, as well as their ever increasing influence over court politics. There are also some fantastic little twists throughout the story and some characters that really steal the show; the author pulls back the curtain on some of the loftier parts of society and damn! it’s awesome!
This is the most fun book I have read in a long time! Piracy, world-building, and damn fine characters; this is a swashbuckling fantasy-fest that will not disappoint!
Where to find Jon Skovron;
Where to find Bane and Shadow