Friday, March 25, 2022

#Review - Sword and Shadow by Michelle Sagara #Fantasy #Epic

Series: Wolves of Elantra # 2
Format: Paperback, 512 pages
Release Date: February 22, 2022
Publisher: MIRA
Source: Publisher
Genre: Fantasy / Epic

For fans of epic fantasy, both familiar and fresh, this book continues the saga and expands the world of Elantra, following the quests of Severn Handred, an executioner with the Imperial Wolves.

In exchange for information about his past, Severn Handred is tasked with joining a Barrani lord on a mission to the West March—a Barrani enclave well outside the boundaries of the Empire, and therefore outside of Imperial law. Severn cannot go as an Imperial Wolf, because it would be too dangerous for him. But the instincts that lead him to the Wolves and the sense of duty that keeps him there can’t be discarded as easily as the tabard he wears.

In the heart of the West March, with the tangled web of secrets that have been kept for centuries, Severn's belief that execution is justified is going to be tested. There are murders to solve, people to protect, and truths to uncover—the latter of which Barrani will die and kill to protect.

It's one mortal man and his single Barrani friend in the West March against a community of Immortal Barrani who have spent centuries hiding truths that must not be revealed. But they’re up against the Wolves, now.

Sword and Shadow is the second installment in author Michelle Sagara's Wolves of Elantra series. This is prequel to the authors Chronicles of Elantra series. As an orphan scrounging in the lawless slums of Nightshade, young Severn Handred didn't have the luxury of believing in anything beyond his own survival. He met a young girl named Elliane (later she'll become Kaylin Neya) and her mother who became family but ended up betraying her after vowing to protect her.

When Severn was spotted tailing some lawmen of the Hawks--a not insignificant feat to go otherwise undetected--the recruiter for the Imperial Wolves thinks he should join their ranks. The Wolves are a small, select group that work within the Halls of Law, reporting directly to the Eternal Emperor. They are what you would call assassins. If the Emperor wants someone dead, he sends the Wolves.  Severn hopes to avoid the law--he certainly had no intention of joining it.

Fast forward almost a year, in exchange for information about his past and his parents, Severn Handred joins a Barrani lord (An'Tellarus) as well as his overseer Elluvian on a mission to the West March—an enclave well outside the boundaries of the Empire. Granted a leave of absence from the Wolves by his boss Helmut, Severn is in danger the moment he steps outside the reach of Imperial law. But the instincts that led him to the Wolves and the sense of duty that keeps him there can’t be discarded as easily as the tabard he wears.

In the heart of the West March, enmeshed in a tangled web of secrets that have been kept for centuries, Severn's belief in justice is going to be tested. When it seems that the Green of the West March wants something from Severn, he has to play it out. He's wanted to not ever offend the Green. Severn also made a promise to the man who saved him from certain death, that he would try to solve the mystery of whether a woman is still alive, or she's dead, or caught up in even more danger.

Readers who like their fantasy full-to-the-brim of political shenanigans and endless power struggles will adore this world and the deftness with which its story has been woven. The more you learn about Severn's past, the more fascinating of a character he becomes. He is a boy who grew up without a past into a young man with deep regrets. Even though he had a Barrani Master training him on the needs for the future, he deeply regrets how his actions have impacted Elliane. This book also solves the mystery of where he received his Barrani weapon and how he was able to keep it. 

As I remind you fine folks who read my reviews, it really does matter when you have pen and paper next to you so you can keep track of the characters, events, and places where the events happen. With almost every Epic Fantasy, there are a TON of characters and Severin is forced to learn the dynamics of all the Barrani families and key characters so that he doesn't say or do the wrong thing. The novel is very slow for the first two thirds. Lots of explanation and history, and little action. 

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