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In the Shadow of Swords (Tales of Ciris Sarn) by [Gunn, Val]
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In the Shadow of Swords (Tales of Ciris Sarn) Kindle Edition

3.8 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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Length: 362 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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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: 4269 KB
  • Print Length: 362 pages
  • Publisher: Errant Press (February 28, 2011)
  • Publication Date: February 28, 2011
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0050IS6CG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #847,104 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David Keymer TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover
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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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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Format: Hardcover
'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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Format: Hardcover
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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