- The Shadow Saint (The Black Iron Legacy #2).
- Gareth Hanrahan.
- 592 pages.
- Fantasy / Grimdark.
- My Rating: Hellyeah Book Review.
Enter a city of spires and shadows . . .
The Gutter Miracle changed the landscape of Guerdon forever. Six months after it was conjured into being, the labyrinthine New City has become a haven for criminals and refugees.
Rumors have spread of a devastating new weapon buried beneath the streets – a weapon with the power to destroy a god. As Guerdon strives to remain neutral, two of the most powerful factions in the godswar send agents into the city to find it.
As tensions escalate and armies gather at the borders, how long will Guerdon be able to keep its enemies at bay?
I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
My first thoughts on finishing The Shadow Saint were ‘holy shit, this book was good’.
The Shadow Saint is the second book in The Black Iron Legacy and starts six months after the conclusion of the first book, The Gutter Prayer. But, it isn’t a direct sequel, the focus is changed and we mostly follow a new set of characters (for those wondering Carillon/Cari, Rat and Spar the trio of main PoV characters from The Gutter Prayer all appear) and a story that is built on the foundation of the events of The Gutter Prayer. The new perspectives come from the trio of PoV characters Eladora Duttin who was a bit part character in The Gutter Prayer and who, this time around has been promoted to a PoV character. Eladora is still coming to terms with what happened to her during the Crisis and is now working for Effro Kelkin, the Industrial Liberal party and the emergency committee that was formed in the aftermath of the Crisis and the Gutter Miracle as Kelkin’s chief advisor. Terevant Erevesic, a noble, a war veteran, the second son and younger brother to the current ambassador of Haith in Guerdon. And, ‘The Spy‘ whose own name and identity are cloaked in shadow, are unknown and who, instead is a man of many masks, who has a multitude of different aliases all complete with their own created backstories and personalities that he uses throughout the course of the story.
There are rumours and whispers that buried, hidden in the labyrinthine underground beneath Guerdon there is a weapon that is capable of killing the gods. Wanting the advantage that such a powerful weapon would bring to the Godswar both Haith and Ishmere have sent people to infiltrate Guerdon, to learn the truth and to venture into the depths and attempt to find the weapon.
Guerdon has always remained neutral in the Godswar between the neighbouring nations (each with their own pantheon of mad gods) of Haith and Ishmere, trading and selling alchemical weapons to both. But, the Godswar is closing in, drawing nearer. Guerdon is a city that is suffused with a long history, it has changed countless times since its inception and it is a city that has been built and rebuilt over time and time again. The Guerdon of the present is built on the detritus, the remnants of the past and, for its current iteration, the latest change, the next evolution occurred recently at the end of The Gutter Prayer where, after the Crisis what is now referred to as ‘The Gutter Miracle‘ altered the streets, changed the landscape and reshaped a large portion creating the ‘New City‘ that has become a refuge to the poor of Guerdon, a home for those with nowhere else to go and a sanctuary for the refugees fleeing from the Godswar. On the surface Guerdon, with its festering and rotting core is a corrupt and grimy hellhole full of anarchy and disorder with an abundance of degenerates and miscreants who populate the dangerous streets. Whilst under the surface, in the catacombs miles below, lurks the dark unknown, a vast network of ghoul infested tunnels and ruins that are home to lost secrets and forgotten eldritch horrors. In Hanrahan’s hands, Guerdon is far more just a city, it is just as important to the story and the unfolding events as the flesh and blood characters are. It’s not simply ‘the location‘ where the story takes place, it is integral to the story.
The characters created by Hanrahan are well-developed and distinctive with their own personalities. Throughout the story they continue to develop and grow, those who are returning and those who we are seeing for the first time too, the main, the secondary and those who are on the periphery of the story. I liked all three of the PoV characters and felt that they were woven together really well. My favourite out of the trio would have to be ‘The Spy‘ who, with his myriad of identities is absolutely fascinating as at the core he is the same person but through him, we get to see a variety of different characters.
The scope of the imagination on display by the creative genius that is Hanrahan is hugely impressive and the world-building is in-depth, rich and of a very high standard. This time around Hanrahan goes deeper, we learn more and by having PoV characters from both Haith and Ishmere situated in Guerdon it really serves to open up the wider world, giving you a deeper look at the two cultures, their gods and their way of life.
The writing by Hanrahan, his stellar use of dialogue between the characters and his sublime turns of phrase are detailed and descriptive and serve to offer the reader an immersive reading experience. His words are terrific at creating atmosphere, tension and offer some outstanding and vivid imagery that bring his creatures, characters and locations all to life upon the pages.
Throughout The Shadow Saint, the pacing is terrific, nothing is rushed, the story builds and it all culminates in what is an exhilarating final hundred pages featuring a huge showdown and a running battle between deranged deities, mechanical monstrosities, alchemical horrors, the god-touched, warrior saints, miracles, creatures from the underground, sorcery and humans.
The Shadow Saint is a complex tapestry of many woven threads that fit together perfectly featuring action, drama, espionage, politics, religion, mystery, intrigue, secrets and various cultures all in a story that demands your attention and fully deserves it. It is an insanely original and mayhem-filled dark creation that is entertaining, twisted and brilliant. I loved The Gutter Prayer. Simply, I thought that The Shadow Saint was better.
Purchase The Shadow Saint (The Black Iron Legacy #2) by Gareth Hanrahan.
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