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Jon Sprunk

Jon Sprunk Jon Sprunk is from Pennsylvania. He has published several stories in anthologies, but Shadow’s Son is his first novel. Learn more at Jon Sprunk’s website.

The Shadow Saga

The Shadow Saga — (2010-2012) Publisher: In the holy city of Othir, treachery and corruption lurk at the end of every street, just the place for a freelance assassin with no loyalties and few scruples. Caim makes his living on the edge of a blade, but when a routine job goes south, he is thrust into the middle of an insidious plot. Pitted against crooked lawmen, rival killers, and darkest sorcery, his only allies are the socialite daughter of his last target and a guardian spirit no one else can see. But in this fight for his life, Caim only trusts his knives and his insticts, but they won’t be enough when his quest for justice leads him from Othir’s hazardous back alleys to its shining corridors of power. To unmask a conspiracy at the heart of the empire, he must claim his birthright as the Shadow’s Son…

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Shadow’s Son: Competent, entertaining, predictable

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Shadow's Son by Jon Sprunk

You could make an argument for establishing a new sub-genre called something like "assassin fantasy," given the number of novels currently on the shelves with heroes in that grim and surprisingly popular profession. So when the cover of Shadow's Son, Jon Sprunk's debut novel, shows a man wearing a hood and flashing a set of matching knives, it's not hard to predict the main character's occupation before even opening the book.

And yes, right in the opening scene, the novel's protagonist — Caim — is indeed found secretly observing a noble before attempting to assassinate him. After completing the job and escaping by using his mysterious "shadow" powers, Caim picks up another assignment that was recently abandoned by his colleague Ral. However, when Caim arrives at the house of the target — a wealthy man recently re... Read More

Book of the Black Earth

Book of the Black Earth — (2014- ) Publisher: This action-heavy EPIC FANTASY SERIES OPENER is like a sword-and-sorcery Spartacus set in a richly-imagined world. It starts with a shipwreck following a magical storm at sea. Horace, a soldier from the west, had joined the Great Crusade against the heathens of Akeshia after the deaths of his wife and son from plague. When he washes ashore, he finds himself at the mercy of the very people he was sent to kill, who speak a language and have a culture and customs he doesn’t even begin to understand. Not long after, Horace is pressed into service as a house slave. But this doesn’t last. The Akeshians discover that Horace was a latent sorcerer, and he is catapulted from the chains of a slave to the halls of power in the queen’s court. Together with Jirom, an ex-mercenary and gladiator, and Alyra, a spy in the court, he will seek a path to free himself and the empire’s caste of slaves from a system where every man and woman must pay the price of blood or iron. Before the end, Horace will have paid dearly in both.

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Blood and Iron: For lovers of Ander Offutt’s Conan pastiches

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Blood and Iron by John Sprunk

My favorite part of Blood and Iron is when Mulcibar tells shipwreck-survivor-turned-slave-turned-super-wizard-turned-Queen’s-Protector Horace, in all sincerity, that Queen Byleth is a strict mistress, but not cruel. Sorry, dude, you’re just wrong. Turning the brother who betrayed you over to your crazy mad scientist to be tortured as part of his experiment might qualify as “strict.” Sashaying down to the torture chamber/secret lab in your tissue-thin designer gown and gloating over said brother during torture is cruel. That’s okay, though, because tall, voluptuous, raven-haired, contralto-voiced Queen Byleth is not one of the main characters of Jon Sprunk’s new book Blood and Iron. She’s a high-fashion plot device, like Kim Kardashian doing a guest stint on Spartacus Read More