Wolf In Shadow

by David Gemmell

Reviewed by Coral


David Gemmell has been my favorite author from the moment I picked up one of his books. Every time I go into a bookstore I look to see if he has another book out. I haven't picked up one of his books in awhile and, since my "to read" pile has been very large for a long time, I only recently got to this book, which led to me doing a search to see when his next book would be published, which led to me learning that he had died at the end of July! I honestly had not heard of his death before now. The man was a genius writer and I will miss his creative spark and his sheer brilliance. It may be a little late in coming, but Rest In Peace, Mr. Gemmell.

Another small preface to the review, which again has to do with the fact that most of his novels never seemed to be ordered correctly by lists, and many in fact were written out of order: though this book references the Sipstrassi stones it is not a part of the Stones of Power series. The universes they are set it are completely different from each other. So, this is the first of the Jon Shannow series and not the third book of the Sipstrassi series as some places will say.

The world after the fall of mankind is a very dark place indeed. Good people try to live decent lives and eke out an existence on their farms, but constantly find themselves threatened by Brigands, who raid and kill for their own pleasure. One man trying to find his way in this harsh world is Jon Shannow, known as the Jerusalem man, though even he will admit he is far from a good man.

Shannow is obsessed with finding Jerusalem. There are many questions that plague him, answers the Bible cannot give, answers that he hopes to find in Jerusalem. His search, along with the manner he interprets his faith, have left him a cold and much feared man. But "the Jerusalem man" is feared farther away than Shannow could ever imagine.

Deep inside what is known as the Plague lands, there is the nation of the Hellborn. Ruled by a madman Abaddon, the Hellborn plan to sweep forth from their lands and conquer the rest of the world in the name of their lord, Satan. Only, to do so, Abaddon has been told by his priests that he will have to kill the Jerusalem man.

Now, as the Hellborn Zealots close in, Shannow comes to realize that there is a bigger war on hand than anyone has ever known, because standing behind the scenes is a man of such great power that even Abaddon and his army of Hellborn are but pawns in his deadly game.

There's a character in this book who says something that I think holds true of all of Gemmell's books: "There are no heroes." The characters in his books are not the heroes out of legends, with shinning armor and a valiant desire to rid the world of all evil they see. Sometimes even those who end up leading the charge against the invading horde accidentally fall into the role of "hero", or have it thrust unwillingly upon them. His characters have flaws, sometimes a lot of them. I love that most of the characters live, not in the world of "black and white" but in the shades of gray.

I'm not really a religious person and have always enjoyed Gemmell's novels because religion doesn't usually play a big part in them. That's not so in this book, but even with all the Biblical quotations I didn't really mind, because it raised some interesting questions: if, after Armageddon, the Bible was one of the few books to survive, how would people reconcile the words they read to what they see all around them? If the Bible is the truth of the world before Armageddon, why is there no mention of guns in its pages? If the Bible says that some of Jesus' disciples will live to see the Armageddon, how can there be evidence that suggests that it happened thousands and thousands of years after Jesus' death?

The only parts of the book that I really didn't like had to do with the Guardians and the Atlantis plot. Since the Sipstrassi stones, which feature pretty heavily in the story's plot, originated from Atlantis, I guess I could have probably overlooked it, even though I felt it most of it was unnecessary. But the Guardians really were annoying. Some were people who survived the Fall of Man, some are people from after the Fall, but all are people who came in prolonged contact with Sipstrassi stones and were "blessed" with long life as a result. I don't think I would have minded this so much either, except at a certain point they were everywhere. Shannow always seemed to be running into another one! It was slightly annoying.

Still, I loved this book and can't wait to read the next one.

 Grade: B