Laela Redguard is a half-breed Northerner raised in the South. Left homeless after the death of her foster father, Laela sets out in search of a place in the world and chooses to go to the North — a land now ruled by the infamous Arenadd Taranisäii and his partner, the unpredictable dark griffin Skandar.
It is a place where Southerners are not welcome, a place in which Laela cannot hope to survive for long.
But then someone comes into Laela′s life. A new friend. A dangerous friend. A friend who offers a place in the world – but that place may come at a higher price than anyone suspected …
I began reading The Shadow’s Heir almost as soon as I finished The Griffin’s War, so I didn’t have a long wait to get back to this world like many other fans did. It was great seeing all my favourite (and some of my not-so-favourite) characters twenty years on. As expected, some of them are changed but others are stubbornly the same.
Of the new characters, I found Laela to be the most likeable and loved watching her grow into herself throughout the book. The discrimination she faces as a ‘half-breed’ defines her, and it was saddening to realise that she couldn’t find true acceptance in the North or South. However, I was happy to see that her tenacity and honesty eventually won her a place in the North. She does seem to take everything to stride though, and I can’t remember her ever displaying any extreme emotions, which is a little weird. The bond she and Arenadd develop struck me as one of the best aspects of the book – I loved watching their mutual respect grow over the course of the book.
I wasn’t surprised to find that Saeddryn continued to antagonise me in this book and her griffin was even worse. I find her completely untrustworthy and power-hungry and kept waiting for Arenadd to throw her out. But I must concede that she has never tried to grab power through assassination, so she must have some moral code I’m not privy to. But seriously, I haven’t read too many characters that make me hate them so vehemently and I give credit where it’s due to the author. I also found myself taking a strong dislike to the warring Gods of the world – they use humans as pawns and are extremely self-interested (I guess this is expected, but I can still hate them for it).
I had thought that this book could only go in a handful of directions, and while I wasn’t expecting it to go the Star Wars way, I definitely didn’t anticipate what happened. I loved the book for this reason – I don’t enjoy stories where I can peg what’s going to happen early on. The engaging plot line is supported by the expansion of this fantastical world, introducing us to new countries and cultures and giving the book a string sense of place. I also liked the exploration of the turmoil that reigns in the South since The Dark War and the state of politics in the North as they establish themselves as a country in their own right.
As the first book in the Risen Sun series, The Shadow’s Heir forms a great basis for an epic new story, one that I am looking forward to following. I’ve said it once, but I’ll say it again: K. J. Taylor is a talented author who continues to bring us spellbinding stories and if you aren’t already reading her books, then you should remedy that!
About the book: