From Publishers Weekly
Sprunk's debut novel, filled with the clichés and conventions of heroic fantasy, is amateur in its originality. Caim is an assassin with a tragic and slightly mysterious background. Othir is Caim's adopted city, a city populated entirely by villains and victims. Betrayed by his colleagues, Caim is left with Josephine, the daughter of the man who was to be Caim's next victim, as an unwilling ally against hosts of conniving religious fanatics, conspirators, and evil rival assassins. Sprunk's prose is leaden and riddled with lumps of tedious exposition, his characters are prototypes of the genre, and even his setting is the usual sort of degenerate, decaying imperial city-with no attempt to distinguish his version of this established trope. The result is a journey through a tired plot, with nothing particular to reward the reader for the time invested.
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Like many other assassin characters, Caim is an orphan. But he has a ghostlike companion, Kit, whom only he can hear and see, and an uncanny ability to manipulate shadows. Set in a kingdom where the religious are not so holy and the nobility are corrupt, Caim has no loyalties and few scruples. He reluctantly accepts a contract to assassinate a nobleman, only to find that someone else got there first. He and the nobleman's daughter, Josey, become an unlikely pair in the search for her father's killers and the people who set up Caim. The intrigue, action scenes, and ever-more-revealing character insights are masterfully woven together in a book the reader won't want to put down. Questions about the origin of Caim's shadow sorcery and Kit's identity are broadly touched upon but never fully revealed, leaving readers to wonder if there will be another book to tie up the loose pieces. Overall, a first-rate sword-and-sorcery tale, with intriguing characters, that moves at a quick pace. --Rebecca Gerber