Shadow's Lure [NOOK Book]

Overview

The unforgiving Northlands . . .

In Othir, he was at the top of the food chain—an assassin beyond compare, a dark shadow in the night. But Caim left that life behind when he helped an empress claim her throne. And now his past has come calling again.

Searching for the truth behind the murder and ...
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Shadow's Lure

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Overview

The unforgiving Northlands . . .

In Othir, he was at the top of the food chain—an assassin beyond compare, a dark shadow in the night. But Caim left that life behind when he helped an empress claim her throne. And now his past has come calling again.

Searching for the truth behind the murder and disappearance of his parents, Caim discovers a land in thrall to the Shadow. Haunted by temptations from the Other Side, he becomes mired in a war he does not want to fight.

But there are some things a son of the Shadow cannot ignore, and some fights from which he can’t run. In this battle, all of Caim’s strength and skill won’t be enough. For none can resist the Shadow’s Lure.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Once an assassin without peer, Caim left his former life when he assisted the empress Josey in claiming her throne. Now, as Josey engages in the daily battles of political intrigue within her palace, Caim travels to the far north, which has fallen to the Shadow, to search for answers about the disappearance of his parents and the truth of his birth. The sequel to Shadow's Son brings together the dark plots and underpinnings of Sprunk's fantasy world and expands on the nature of Caim's ghostly companion, Kit. VERDICT This addition to the sword-and-sorcery genre features both action and magic as well as a tale of unrequited love and unlikely lovers.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781616143725
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books
  • Publication date: 6/7/2011
  • Series: Shadow Saga
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 340
  • Sales rank: 75,329
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Jon Sprunk is the author of Blood and Iron (part one of the Book of the Black Earth) and the Shadow Saga—Shadow's SonShadow's Lure, and Shadow's Master—which has been published in seven languages worldwide. An avid adventurer in his spare time, he lives in central Pennsylvania with his family. Visit him online at www.jonsprunk.com
and at www.facebook.com/JonSprunk or follow him on Twitter @sprunk70.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Read an Excerpt

SHADOW'S LURE


By JON SPRUNK

Prometheus Books

Copyright © 2011 Jon Sprunk
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-61614-371-8


Chapter One

Caim drew in a breath and held it. The bow shaft creaked as he pulled the string back to his ear.

Forty paces away, the target turned his head, but then went back to his meal. Caim measured the distance again, allowing for wind and a slight difference in elevation. The temperature had dropped to near freezing with the sun's setting, which would affect the arrow's flight.

"Still playing around out here?" a voice whispered in his ear.

Caim shivered as Kit passed through him, and then she was beside him. Her hair gleamed like quicksilver in the dying light.

"You're going to shoot without giving him a chance?"

"Don't—" he said as she leaned across his field of vision to look down the arrow.

The mark glanced up again. Caim's hands were cramping from the cold, the bowstring biting into his fingers.

"—move," he breathed.

But it was too late. The stag gathered its legs and leapt away between two leaning evergreens. Snow from dislodged branches showered over its trail. Caim ducked away from Kit and tracked his quarry's movement through the thicket. Time slowed. In the space between two heartbeats, he found the target and shot.

The arrow spun in a tight spiral as the stag emerged from the trees, hooves churning in the deep snow. Caim leaned forward as the arrow and its target collided. The stag's high-pitched squeal startled him when the missile punched into its side. The arrow struck high and behind the foreleg. The stag foundered, but then it took off through the snow. How long could it run? By the brightness of the blood running down its tawny coat, the shot had punctured a lung.

Caim fumbled for his quiver as he ran after it, but the stag raced like lightning through the snow. In another few heartbeats, it would be gone. His breath burned in his chest as the creature passed behind a thick bole. What emerged on the other side nearly caused Caim to stumble in his tracks. It had the rough size and shape of the stag, but its coat was silky black like the fur of a jungle cat. Two slender horns of bone-white ivory rose from the back of the narrow skull. A twinge ached in Caim's chest, and the stag returned, galloping away through the snow. Without thinking about it, he reached out to the shadows gathering in the trees around him. The stag snorted as a ribbon of darkness fell over its face. It slid in the snow, just a momentary hitch in its gait, but that was enough for Caim to draw and fire. The second arrow went high. He shot the third almost without aiming. It looked like it was going to veer wide until the stag blundered into its path. This time the animal fell.

When Caim caught up, the stag was kicking weakly on its side. There was no sign of the strange transformation it had undergone. Caim drew one of the long suete knives sheathed in the harness at the small of his back and put the animal out of its misery. He tied its legs together while bright red blood pumped out into the snow.

Kit floated at his side and watched the animal's last throes. "Did you see the way it looked at you? It was the saddest thing I've ever seen."

Kit continued to chatter as Caim dragged the carcass in the direction of his camp. He hadn't known what to expect when he decided to come north. Eregoth loomed in his memory like a half-forgotten nightmare, but the last Nimean outpost was six days behind them and they hadn't seen another living soul since. Of course, he traveled cross-country, avoiding anything more established than hunting trails. Game was plentiful; he wouldn't starve if he could manage to keep from freezing to death. But he hardly slept anymore, and when he did the dreams were waiting for him, worse than before. And he saw things, too. Shadow things, like what happened with the stag. They appeared without warning, day and night. Ever since Othir.

"You're passing it," Kit chided over his head.

Caim stopped beside a screen of brush. Through the canopy of tree branches, the sky was a sheet of cobalt. The moon hung low, a slender sickle among the evening's first stars. He dropped his prize and knelt down to clean it. With the bloody meat in hand, he kicked snow over the carcass and tromped through the undergrowth.

His camp was a lean-to and a fire pit, which had gone out in his absence. Once he got the fire going again, he spitted the meat and set it over the flames. Then he cleaned his hands in the snow and settled back against the tree supporting his impromptu shelter.

Kit appeared before him, standing in the fire. Her arms were folded across her chest, a bad sign. Caim took a deep breath to prepare for the onslaught.

"What are you doing?" she asked.

"Waiting for my supper."

"You know what I mean!" She waved her hands over her head. "Why are we here?"

"You know why, Kit." He broke a pair of semi-dry branches in half and tossed them into the fire. "You were all in favor of this before."

"When?"

"Back in Othir. You heard me explain it to Josey. You didn't have any objections then."

"Yes, I did. I just didn't voice them."

He turned the spits. "Then you forfeited your chance."

"I'm voicing them now! Look at you. You're half frozen, living like an animal. And you don't have any idea what you're searching for. Do you?"

Caim grunted, but it came out like a clearing of his throat. When was the last time you agreed with anything I did, Kit? But she was always there, every time he fell down, even if sometimes it was only to throw salt in his wounds. "I'm tired, Kit. Let it go."

She floated over to sit beside him and leaned against his arm. Ghostly tickles raised gooseflesh under his leathers. "Why don't we go to Arnos? Just the two of us, down to the Midland shore. Bright beaches, clear waters. By the time we get there, it would be warmer—"

He scooted away from her. "Cut it out, Kit."

"Fine."

With a last glower, she vanished. No sparkles, no glitter. Out in the gathering darkness, an owl hooted. The air seemed colder when she was gone. What was he trying to prove? That he didn't need anyone? He'd spent most of the first week after he left Othir looking over his shoulder, hoping Josey had ignored his admonition not to come after him. Even after he stopped looking back, that didn't make his decision to continue north any easier. The encounter with Levictus was still fresh in his mind.

The wind died down for a moment, making the sorcerer's next words resound like thunder crashing over Caim's head. "She dwells in the peerless realm of her ancestors, beyond the veil in the Land of Shadow."

The Land of Shadow. Children's nonsense. But it wasn't. Caim reached out his hand and called to the darkness. A patch of shadow appeared in his palm. It came with hardly any effort. The shadows. The stag. His dreams. What else was changing?

Caim gave a mental push and the shadow slid away. After giving the spits another turn, he ducked inside the lean-to, where his few possessions were pushed against the canvas wall. On top of the pile lay a long bundle wrapped in burlap. He reached inside and pulled, and the sword slid clear of its housing with a whisper. The black blade reflected no shine from the firelight. It had lain in the ground behind Kas's cabin for almost twenty years, yet showed not the least sign of tarnish.

Where did you come from?

As if in answer, a tremble slithered up his arm. And then the night came alive. The sky lightened to milky gray. The trees stood taller and shed their shady cloaks, and the snow gleamed beneath him like a blanket of stardust.

Caim thrust the sword back into its scabbard. When his hand left the hilt, his vision returned to normal. With a grimace, he folded the burlap over the end and shoved the entire thing under a blanket, where it made a conspicuous hump. He pulled over the bulging satchel. Under layers of spare clothes, he found a narrow book bound in a black cord. It was Archpriest Vassili's personal journal, given to him by Josey. There had also been papers for safe passage, but he'd burned them. From what he had seen journeying north, any document found on his person tying him to the new empress would do him more harm than good. If things had been bad in Nimea before the Church's downfall, they were worse now. There was no law beyond the length of a sword's blade. The nobles squabbled over land rights while the commons stole off to become brigands.

Caim cracked open the book, and a square of parchment slid out onto his lap. He held it up. A capital letter J was stamped in gold wax over the fold. A letter from Josey, tucked where he would find it. Was it a plea for him to come back? Or a warning to stay away and never return? He shoved it in the back of the book.

The lines on the book's smooth vellum pages were penned in Vassili's cultured hand. He read a page or two each night. So far he hadn't found anything useful, mostly passages about the archpriest's early days as a praetor in Belastire.

Caim touched the key-shaped pendant, another gift from Josey, under his shirt as he flipped through the pages until something caught his eye.

Eighth day of Atrius, 1123 We have arrived in Othir after fourteen days on the road. Despite the speed of our passage, I was the last of the conclave to arrive, a fact which shall no doubt be used against me. We were received at DiVecci in the afternoon. Just as I suggested in my treatise, the Inquest has been expanded several times beyond their original ... The next couple words were indecipherable. Then: The oubliettes beneath the castle stink of river water and are bursting with prisoners, many of them imperialist agitators, but one caught my attention. Something about his eyes. I have decided to return tomorrow and inquire about him.

Hearing the sizzle of dripping fat, Caim lurched forward and caught the meat before it fell into the fire. He peeled off strips with his teeth and hissed as he gulped down the steaming flesh, then turned back to the journal. The text went on to tell how Vassili liberated a young man from the torture cells beneath Castle DiVecci and decided to keep him as a ward.

The prisoner's name was Levictus.

By the time Caim finished the page, the sun had gone down. He put the book away, tossed another couple of branches on the fire, and crawled under his shelter. As he lay there, gazing up at the stars through gaps in the canopy, Josey intruded into his thoughts. What was she doing? Was she safe? Had she forgotten about him? But the more he thought of her, the more he knew he'd made the right decision. She was an empress now, and he was a penniless freebooter without a home or history.

His last thoughts, as he drifted off, were about Kit. He regretted the way he had spoken to her. Promises of making it up to her lulled him into an uneasy slumber.

* * *

Caim could tell he was dreaming by the phosphorescent tint of the starshine and the springy softness of the grass underfoot. He stood beside a split-rail fence as tall as his chest. Beyond it stretched a long yard of tar-black earth. He was eight years old again. Small. Scrawny. Weak.

The fence rail was coarse under his palms. A big man knelt in the center of the yard. Caim's breath remained trapped in his lungs as he looked upon his father. Over him towered a cloak-shrouded scarecrow. Moonlight illuminated the face of a young Levictus, with a midnight blade in his hand. The scene played out as it had a thousand times before. The blade swooped down. Caim bit his lip to stifle the scream. He wanted to run away, but he could only stand and watch as his father crumpled to the ground, the familiar sword's hilt protruding from his chest.

Levictus turned, and another figure came into view, garbed in a black cloak like the wings of a giant bat. A cold finger of dread scratched down Caim's backbone. He started as a dry branch snapped beneath his foot. The figures looked toward him from across the yard.

A sharp pain pierced his right ear. Caim tried to let go of the rail, but his hands wouldn't obey. Shadows swirled as the figures melted away into the night, leaving his father alone in the yard. Caim wanted to go to him, but his head hurt so much. He focused on his fingers, willing them to let go. His arms shook with the effort.

Just ... let ... go....

A titanic roar jerked Caim awake, to find a huge shape looming above him. Massive jaws studded with fangs opened beneath a snub nose. Tiny eyes peered from under tufts of dark fur. Caim started to lift his arms, but the bear's plate-sized paw knocked him sideways.

Rocks gouged his back as he skidded over the hard ground, and another roar filled his ears. He reached for his knives, but his right arm was pinned underneath him. The fingers of his left hand were stiff with cold, but he made them curl around a hilt and pull it free. As the animal lurched over him, Caim thrust upward. The knife's point struck hide as hard as old timber, and the air rushed from his lungs as clawed paws came down on his chest. The bear's jaws gaped wide, spewing the stench of rotten meat into his face. Caim freed his trapped arm in time to wedge it between his throat and the bear's teeth. The jaws slammed shut on his forearm. Spots of light danced in front of Caim's eyes as he stabbed repeatedly into the animal's side, but he might as well have been chopping down a tree with a spoon. Growls pierced his skull as he was thrashed from side to side. Biting back on his fear, Caim reached out to the shadows. He could feel them lurking around the edge of the camp, but he couldn't summon the momentary calm he needed to call them. The spots began to swirl as his free hand swept back and forth across the ground, searching for ... for ...

I'm going to die.

With that realization, the terror receded long enough for him to detect a familiar feeling in his chest, a tugging he'd felt before. Then a horrific screech split the night, and a long, low shape rose above the bear's rugged shoulder. Blacker than the night sky, it clove to the darkness. Wide, lambent eyes gazed down as its mouth closed around the bear's neck.

The bear roared and threw Caim away. He rolled over several times before crashing into the base of a tree. He tried to sit up and sucked in a short breath as a sharp pain erupted down his leg. He lay still, gasping in the snow, as the two beasts rolled across the ground, clawing and biting at each other. The bear's struggles grew weaker by the heartbeat; its attempts to dislodge the huge shadow slowed until the great animal finally collapsed in a heap.

A cold dread settled in Caim's stomach as the shadow beast released the bear's throat and stared at him from atop the shaggy corpse. Then it climbed down out of sight and disappeared. Caim craned his neck, but there was no sign of it. The pressure in his chest faded.

Caim reached up to touch the side of his face. His fingers found a warm slick of blood and the loose flap of his earlobe attached by a thin membrane. With a grunt, he tore off the skin and dropped it in the snow. His body hurt all over. His forearm throbbed where the bear's teeth had shredded his jacket sleeve and the flesh underneath. Lines of blood dripped down his hand to stain the snow. A darker pool was spreading under his left leg from a set of long parallel gouges.

Moving slowly, Caim crawled past the carcass to the remains of his fire. He blinked back the darkness from the edges of his vision. He couldn't afford to pass out. Even if he didn't freeze, he would bleed to death before morning. The warmth of the fire pit felt good against his face and hands. Working quickly, he shoved his knives into the bed of coals. Then he sat up, wincing, and pulled open the gashes in his pant leg and sleeve. Blood poured from both sets of wounds. He pulled the first knife out of the fire and slapped its glowing red tip against the raw meat of his thigh. Blazing pain shot straight to his brain. For an instant he was back on the roof of the palace in Othir. Josey's face hovered over him, saying something, but he couldn't hear a word.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from SHADOW'S LURE by JON SPRUNK Copyright © 2011 by Jon Sprunk. Excerpted by permission of Prometheus Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 24, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    YAFG Review of Shadow's Lure

    Shadow's Lure is the second book of Sprunk's Shadow Saga, following the debut of "Shadow's Son" last year (2010). In this volume, we return to Othir immediately after the events of "Shadow's Son" as Caim heads north, looking for answers to his past and the murder of his parents. What he finds is a land under the grip of the Shadow, personified in the witch Sybelle and the hints of shadow born magic that darken the land. Meanwhile, Josey, as Empress, is struggling with the politics of a land that seems beset with chaos, not to mention assassins out to remove her. And then there's the fae Kit, who early in the book is whisked away from Caim as she has to deal with her own troubles.

    "Shadow's Lure" needs to be read in sequence with the rest of the series, unfortunately. Sprunk gives the new reader nothing to identify with with the characters, plunging the reader into a world where the three main characters have very little direct interaction with one another. readers coming to this book directly from the end of book one, though, will appreciate that this book picks up within days of the first book.

    Sprunk keeps the secrets of his world at bay, giving us only hints and suggestions. For now, this is enough, though the third book, "Shadow's Master," has a lot of promises to deliver on. Sprunk's books will appeal to the sword and sorcery fans - assassins, magic, and action litter the novel, leaving very little room for the doldrums to creep in.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 21, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    This exciting sword and sorcery thriller is an entertaining tale

    After insuring Josey became the Empress of Nimea (see Shadow's Son), top assassin Caim retired from the deadly vocation. While Empress Josey struggles to hold on to her throne from backstabbers, Caim leaves Holy Othir to journey to the foreboding Northlands to obtain information on his birth and his allegedly murdered parents who vanished. Though he knows he will miss his beloved Josey as he wants to be her spouse his obsession with the Northlands drives him away.

    Caim enters a locale under the control of the Shadow, but continues his quest to know. However as the temptations from the Other Side blasts at his soul with alluring enticements, Caim keeps his heart focused on Josey while he also struggles to remain out of a war as his fighting days are over, or are they?

    This exciting sword and sorcery thriller is an entertaining tale with the prime focus on Caim accompanied by the enigmatic Kit in the Northlands. This brings freshness to the story line as the action moves form Holy Othir and Empress Josey (who curses her beloved for choosing the Northlands over her) to a stranger land and his peculiar family tree. The enjoyable story line rotates somewhat between Caim, Josey, Kit and a few other participants, the assassin remains the prime player with his personal quest while the rest of the cast move forward the overarching theme although that can feel a bit intruding. Fans will enjoy the return to the Shadow's realm of Jon Sprunk.

    Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2012

    Great book

    Great book

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 2, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    WONDERFUL fantasy with Shadows Magic & Action!

    Caim's traveling to the snow covered rebellious North to see if he can find "her" or more about "her" as Levictus mentioned at the end of Shadow's Son she was up North somewhere. The land he left when he was eight after that horrid night that haunts Caim's dreams still. Caim travels light, with his usual weapons, the dark sword that was waiting for him at Kas's cabin, and the personal journal of Arch-priest Vassili. Caim finds himself fighting with untrained men at his back, yet still alone as Kit disappears. Yet what Kit has to learn could come in handy as well.

    Josey has come into the seat of Empress as her blood right is, but is still learning and tending with the reminder of how she got here. With the Church over thrown and the new order short on funds some Nobles have started to take advantage of a weakened moment and harass each other along with banditry increasing. Josey seems to be sitting as a figure head, but she speaks up with a solution to problems and starts to take control for her subjects. There is a creature sent to assassinate Josey and has her running around to stay alive and find the assassin along with who sent it.

    Quickly in the first Chapter we are reminded of the character strength in Caim. Although we get a small feeling he is tired and a little run down. In these moments we get the reminder of things and people important in his life. Wonderful start off the bat here. I remember where things left off as this refreshes easily and opens doors to more possibilities simultaneously. Makes me want to know more.

    We follow two basic story lines in this book. One of Caim in the north fighting with the rebels against the duke and his witch, then with Josey as she fights for her life and tries to find her would be assassin. I enjoy both lines greatly! Josey's story line shows to me how greatly in strength her character grows. There is a great amount going on in both story lines and in the end start to tie together. In doing this we do follow a few different point of views. This is well done with Caim and Josey. Even Kit has her own view point in this book as well.

    Then we meet our new characters in the series. We do follow a view point from the witch Sybelle as well. Which really starts to give us a view into the Shadows side of things. There is many interesting things to learn here. And many North clan men make the roaster as well. A few seem to become bigger players in the end. And I look forward to see where all the characters, new and old, go with Caim in the next book.

    The world created here expands in this book. We get to see more from the broken Northern side, the crumbling of Othir, and new worlds that seem to be of a fey type origin. We have Kit's world and the Shadow world. I like these glimpses and still want more.

    Oh, I'll be watching for the third installment of this series to come along. I WANT to read more of what is hidden in the shadows for Caim, Kit, Josey, and many others.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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