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In the Shadow of Swords (Tales of Ciris Sarn) [Kindle Edition]

Val Gunn
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)

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Book Description

When legendary killer Ciris Sarn ends a life in an empty city plaza with a single dagger thrust, little does he know that an insidious game has been triggered by the brutal slaying. Turning predator into prey, this part fantasy, part espionage novel races along as it follows the now hunted Sarn across the brilliant white sands and sparkling seas of Mir'aj, pursued by the widow of his latest victim who will stop at nothing for vengeance.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A brutal assassin, a drug-addicted spy, and a vengeful widow are embroiled in a potentially world-shaking conspiracy in Gunn's convoluted political fantasy, the launch title for indie Errant Press. When Ciris Sarn, a curse-bound half-jinn, murders Hiril Altaïr, he leaves behind four books of magic. They come into the hands of Hiril's widow, Marin, and she becomes a target even as she hunts for her husband's murderer. Meanwhile, Fajeer Dassai, one of the sultan's advisers, plots to retrieve the books to make himself wealthy beyond imagination. His only obstacle is Pavanan Munif, leader of the Jassaj spies and warriors. The story is told from multiple perspectives in short bursts of chapters, and the action never stops long enough to establish or ground the setting, leaving a confusing narrative of demons and usurpers that threatens to be the first of a series. (Mar.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


“A promising opener with villains and conspiracies aplenty.”  —Fantasy Book Review

“Refreshingly different novel with a gritty realistic setting and darkly detailed characters, recommended.”  —

“Strong storytelling and vivid characters make this a good choice for most fantasy adventure readers.”   —Library Journal

“The action never stops.”  —Publishers Weekly

Product Details

  • File Size: 1939 KB
  • Print Length: 362 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0615232698
  • Publisher: Errant Press (February 28, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0050IS6CG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #654,960 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A MIXED BAG --PROMISE BUT PROBLEMS TOO March 27, 2011
Swords is to be the first of a series of fantasy adventure novels featuring master assassin Ciris Sarn. Sarn, whose father was human but whose mother was an elemental, has both human and supernatural powers. His otherworldly heritage is a weakness as well as a strength: he is `jinn-bound' to carry out the commands of the Sultan of Qatana, Raqqas Siwal, but keeps looking for a way out of the curse that binds him against his will. The sultan has delegated his power over Ciris to his son, Malek, and to his counselor, Fajeer Dassai, who has his own plans for control of the sultanate. The novel is set in an alternate world, Arabian in nature and vaguely medieval, a Scheherazadian universe where demons, jinns and magic compete with men's wiles and force of arms for dominance. A man named Hiril Altair -a good man, an innocent man- has discovered a set of secret magical books. Fajeer sends Ciris to kill him and bring back the books to Fajeer. Thus is set in motion the complicated train of events that constitute this story. Soon there are numerous players involved and one danger after another confronts Ciris and the others involved in this saga.

Portions of this book are overwritten and there are many awkward or overwritten sentences. This passage for instance --"For Sarn there was no such thing as being too cautious. He checked his weapons and his options"--is clunky. Throughout the tone is vaguely archaic. Usually that works -it fits the story and the time--so it isn't intrusive. Still, sentences like "Someday soon I will revel in spilling your blood" and "Little time will you live in peace. ... Dark are the words I place on you" do provoke a snicker.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for fantasy lovers March 2, 2011
By Micha
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I was a little worried when I picked up this book. I don't have a mountain of knowledge on the middle east and thought I would be lost. It turned out to be an intriguingly complicated novel. Yes the author likes his prose, but with that prose he creates a vibrant world, full of action, and compelling storyline. I loved the jinn and magic throughout the book and the summoning system used to call up demons was completely unique. Hopefully he will create a second book in this fascinating world.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fast and Furious March 2, 2011
By K.J.
Most books, regardless of the genre, have the tendency to put me asleep. In recent years I've really become accustomed to reading books with short chapters, whether it is Mary Higgins Clark or Gayle Lynds. Either my attention span is limited or I just do not have the time to get through a fifty-page chapter, so this is a style that I generally prefer. That said, I have read very few fantasy novels that utilize this type of writing technique. After trudging through the heavy volumes of George Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, I found this book to be very refreshing and no less enjoyable.

In the Shadow of Swords is very much a page turner. The action is non-stop and the pacing is frantic. The only quibble I have is the sheer number of scenes and characters introduced throughout the book. I know that the overall scope of the story is on a grand scale, but it just got a little tiresome after a while. However - that is a small gripe. Another aspect that I found interesting was the manner in which the plot is laid out. Rather than jumping back and forth between different characters, you follow one from beginning to end. Everything is then tied together in the end.

Ciris Sarn is a sympathetic anti-hero and someone who you would not likely expect to feel for, but you will. Marin Altair is as a strong-willed, independent, and capable female character you will find in a fantasy book as well. Another positive to this story is its very unusual setting. Again most stories in this genre are in a quasi-European style of world and instead we are presented with one draped in Middle-Eastern mythology.

I definitely recommend picking this book up, I found it a very entertaining read!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Promising Fantasy Novel That Doesn't Quite Deliver August 28, 2012
'In the Shadow of Swords' is a story I really wanted to like. The hardcover book is lovely, the scope is ambitious, and the world author Val Gunn creates interesting one. However, there is just too much going on, not enough explanation of what IS going on, and too many characters. It took me over a year to slog through this book. I don't blame the book entirely for that, but it didn't excite me enough to keep me reading more than 4 or 5 pages a night.

Most of the action takes place in either desert lands or with characters that would seem to come from such an environment. Their names are clear indicators of this, likely influenced by the author's travels. If Val Gunn had stuck with (what I consider) the three main characters (Ciris Sarn, Marin Altair, and Fajeer Dassai), then I think he would have had a more tightly focused narrative and would have kept my interest more effectively. But he bounced around several other minor players that really didn't move the story forward. Gunn writes action well, but his dialog leave something to be desired and the characterization of all but the major players fell rather flat. A lot happens in this book but it does not flow the way I think an action novel should. Short chapters repeat much of what has gone on before and do not progress the story. Events and side characters are not fully explained. The fantastical aspects of the story are glossed over at best.

This book started off strong but bogged itself down less than half the way through. A competent editor might have made the necessary cuts and editorial suggestions that could have made this book a stand out. As it is now, I cannot recommend it to any serious reader, though those looking for a light reading action/fantasy novel with a touch of magic may enjoy it. Unfortunately, I am not one of them, though I might grudgingly give a sequel a cautious read.

2.5 stars rounded down. The author sent me a copy of this book for review purposes.

~ Kort
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Pick a Few Viewpoints to Build around Please
Know that I'm a bit old-fashioned when it comes to fiction -- I like a focused story where only one or two viewpoints are needed to tell the tale. Read more
Published 10 months ago by TammyJo Eckhart
4.0 out of 5 stars pleasant surprise
This was a pleasant surprise. I wasn't sure I'd like it but I did. It kept my interest right up to the end
Published on April 9, 2013 by Suzie
1.0 out of 5 stars Very Confusing !
Supposedly similar to JRR Tolkein, but this story didn't "hang together" and iot was difficult to identify the characters and how te related to each other and to the theme... Read more
Published on March 14, 2013 by Roger Tuttle
2.0 out of 5 stars Shadow
A decent story with too many directions and too many characters left unexplored. A loss of direction for a majority of the journey.
Published on March 14, 2013 by skylar davey
3.0 out of 5 stars Space Opera
Val Gunn has created a epic space opera that combines elements of Star Wars,Prince of Persia, Assasin Creed, Lord of the Rings and many other type Science Fiction/ fantasy works. Read more
Published on July 4, 2011 by Bennet Pomerantz
2.0 out of 5 stars Needs more focus...
Well, I found this particular book to be something of an ordeal. This was partially due to my non-reading workload (which is currently threatening to eat me *goes to beat it with a... Read more
Published on June 15, 2011 by E. Ambrose
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice diversion
I seldom pick up novels but this evening, much in need of diversion, I started this one --- and didn't stop until I'd finished the entire thing. Read more
Published on May 30, 2011 by Alyssa A. Lappen
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Fantasy, But too Much Work to be Fun
In the Shadow of the Swords is my first exposure to Val Gunn. The author provided me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review on Read more
Published on May 24, 2011 by Tom McGee
4.0 out of 5 stars A day in the life of an assassin
Ciris Sarn is a cross between a Ninja and a sorcerer who lives on a planet with 2 suns. He's had a rough life and is under a curse which compels him to obey his master. Read more
Published on May 18, 2011 by D. Roberts
5.0 out of 5 stars Paradise is under the shadow of swords. - Mohammed
"Paradise is under the shadow of swords." - Mohammed

Welcome to Mir'aj, a new world created by Val Gunn that rivals the classic settings of the 1001 Nights and the... Read more
Published on May 18, 2011 by E. A. Bucchianeri
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More About the Author

Val Gunn, as his wife enjoys saying, is a jock-nerd. Both sports and prose seemed to natural to him--though he wrote off the writing for a time to pursue a football playing and coaching career. He has been fortunate to travel and live in many exotic places across the globe. As an on-again, off-again expat; Val is cursed with a perpetual case of wanderlust. This was tempered a bit in 2003 with the birth of their triplets. For the moment he and his family lives in Italy.


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