Jack of Shadows
Author: Roger Zelazny
Release Date: May 1st, 2016
Publisher: Chicago Review Press
Genre(s): Fantasy, Sci-Fi
Review Spoilers: Moderate
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Jack of Shadows was originally released in the 70’s and had gone out of print. Now, in 2016, it is back with a beautiful new cover and a new lease on life. The perfect blend of science fiction and fantasy, Jack of Shadows immerses the reader in a new world almost immediately. The story follows the main character, Jack, through a world that is utterly foreign and another that is all too familiar.
Jack lives in a world that has two sides. He is from the dark side, a place ruled by magic and inhabited by strange and amazing beasts and landscapes. The light side, however, is a side where science rules the day. It is a side that will quickly become familiar to the reader as they realize it parallels their own world. The majority of the book, however, thrives in the shadows as readers are introduced to Jack, also known as Shadowjack, a talented thief who never completely dies. He is devoid of a soul and derives power from the shadows, which he utilizes to steal items of great value to add to his horde.
Unfortunately for Jack, he tries to cross the wrong people and ends up on a journey that will change the entire world, and him.
Jack of Shadows beautifully weaves together the world of fantasy and science fiction. While the dark side of the world seems so unlike our own and appears to be a place outside of reality, the light side tempers it and encourages the reader to consider that the dark side might not be as far away as it seems. Roger Zelazny outdid himself with the mythology driving the piece that takes a fantasy novel and wraps it around into something that is eerily science-fiction.
It was a quick read, only totaling just over two-hundred pages, but the amount of rich storytelling in a small package is astounding. With solid character development and writing that pulls the reader into the world of the light and the dark, there’s a fantastic journey waiting behind the cover. Jack of Shadow receives a full recommendation as a “must read” for any science fiction or fantasy fan, especially those who like to imagine what lies just beyond our reality.
In the end, the lesson Jack of Shadows provides is invaluable. Corrupted in part by absolute power that he so desperately sought, Jack is forced to accept wise counsel and destroy the very thing that keeps their worlds in place. It is the only way to save the world, and in turn redeem himself. So join Jack on his journey and pick up a copy of the re-release of Jack of Shadows. It is worth the read.