The Shadow Saint (The Black Iron Legacy, #2)
Thieves, dangerous magic, and a weapon built with the power to destroy a god clash in this second novel of Gareth Hanrahan's acclaimed epic fantasy series, The Black Iron Legacy.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?The Shadow Saint continues the gripping tale of dark gods and dangerous magic that began with Hanrahan's acclaimed debut The Gutter Prayer.

The Shadow Saint (The Black Iron Legacy, #2) Details

TitleThe Shadow Saint (The Black Iron Legacy, #2)
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJan 9th, 2020
PublisherOrbit
ISBN-139780356511535
Rating
GenreFantasy, Fiction, Dark Fantasy, Epic Fantasy

The Shadow Saint (The Black Iron Legacy, #2) Review

  • Petrik
    January 1, 1970
    ARC provided by the publisherOrbitin exchange for an honest review.4.5/5 starsThe Shadow Saint, the sequel to my favorite debut of 2019, is here and it successfully met my high expectations with so much energy.Firstly, a shout out to one of my favorite artists, Richard Anderson, for creating another gorgeous cover art. Remember what I said at the beginning of my review of The Gutter Prayer? I tend to find the content of an SFF book with Andersons cover art to be as good as the cover, and this ARC provided by the publisher—Orbit—in exchange for an honest review.4.5/5 starsThe Shadow Saint, the sequel to my favorite debut of 2019, is here and it successfully met my high expectations with so much energy.Firstly, a shout out to one of my favorite artists, Richard Anderson, for creating another gorgeous cover art. Remember what I said at the beginning of my review of The Gutter Prayer? I tend to find the content of an SFF book with Anderson’s cover art to be as good as the cover, and this statement holds incredibly well once again. Secondly, if it's been a while since you've read the first book, please remember that the author has a detailed recap (thank god!) of the previous book on his website. I finished reading The Gutter Prayer almost exactly a year ago. Back then, despite the book being released this year, I made a bold claim that The Gutter Prayer would be my favorite debut published in 2019, and seeing there are only five weeks left in 2019, I don’t see any possibility of this claim being proven wrong. I loved The Gutter Prayer so much, and with that in mind, The Shadow Saint managed to not only live up to my high expectation but also, once again, become one of my favorite reads of the year.The Shadow Saint is the second book in The Black Iron Legacy series by Gareth Hanrahan. Some of you may remember that The Black Iron Legacy was planned to be a duology, as it turns out, that’s longer the case because there will be a third book. The story in The Shadow Saint begins months after The Gutter Miracle/The Crisis that changed the landscape of Guerdon that occurred at the end of the first book. Rumors of a new weapon being hidden inside the New City have spread, and now the two most powerful factions in the upcoming Godswar are sending their agents respectively to retrieve the destructive weapon. “The way the Godswar is going, the whole world will be consumed sooner or later, every living soul devoured in the hungers of the mad deities.” I think it will be beneficial for many readers to know—I definitely would’ve preferred knowing about this—that the majority of the events in The Shadow Saint are told from the perspectives of Eladora and two new characters, especially in the first half of the book. The Gutter Prayer ended in a completely standalone fashion that the The Shadow Saint, in a way, felt like a standalone sequel that follows a new set of characters with a new storyline to explore. A side character from the previous book—Eladora—do take the central stage here, and her development was superb, but it did take me a while to find myself invested in the new characters; throughout the first 30% I was genuinely scared that I won’t meet any of the main characters from the previous book here because I want to know more about what happened to them. The Shadow Saint is a book that progressively gets better and better, and thankfully, the new characters gradually became more interesting, more fascinating, and empathizing as the story progressed. Hanrahan did a terrific job in developing Eladoras and the new main characters: Terevant and The Spy. The Spy, in particular, was an incredibly fascinating character to read due to his capability to shift into a different persona at his own will. No one knows his real name and identity; being inside his head as he changed his persona repeatedly made his perspective super intriguing to read. For example, The Spy goes by the name/character of Alic, Sanhada Baradhin, or X84, to name a few; all of them have different personalities and backgrounds despite being essentially the same character. I feel like this is such a great take on a character with the role of a spy, and the moral dilemmas the character had due to being in that role was complex and believable. However, as enamored I was with Eladoras, Terevant, and The Spy, I must admit that I have a soft spot for the main characters from the previous book. I do personally think that the majority of the top highlights of the novel involved the appearances of the main characters from The Gutter Prayer. I am a sucker for well-told characterizations and character development, I love that the feeling I get when I look back to the beginning of a series and I’m able to see how much has changed for the characters, that’s what I get with the returning characters in this book. When I think about the beginning of The Gutter Prayer compared to the ongoing chaotic events in The Shadow Saint, it truly felt like so many pivotal moments have happened and changed the characters—both mentally and physically—that was there since the beginning; this situation can be applied to Eladoras as well, and I’m happier for it.Speaking of characters, I’ve mentioned how the setting, the City of Guerdon, has become a character with proper development and personality on its own before; I can vouch that the same circumstances are still applicable in The Shadow Saint. Honestly speaking, when it comes to world-building and visualizations, not many authors can describe scenes and settings as vivid, dark, and good as Hanrahan. Hanrahan has an imagination, that when put on a page, gives a breath of fresh air to the fantasy genre. Here’s a small example of his writing: “The New City rises above them, a sheer cliff of unlikely architecture… Fractal shapes frozen in stone, great plazas that end in abrupt cliffs, towers like fingers on the hand of a petrified giant, all growing from the same root structure.” He did the same thing in the first book, describing and comparing architecture to body parts, and it just worked so damn well for me somehow; I could easily imagine myself seeing the same things that the characters see from his writing. Here’s another example that adds more immersion to the visualization and reading experience: “In Jaleh’s house, Alic and his son share a room with a man who wakes up screaming every night, and another who has roots and branches growing from his flesh. There are other prodigies in other rooms; a dying man whose innards are turning to gold, a woman whose skin blisters when she speaks the name of any god but the one who’s claimed her, a child who laughs and dances on the ceiling. It’s a refuge for those damaged by the war.” Just within one paragraph, the atmosphere, the sound, the setting, were set with immediate effectiveness that ended up escalating the sense of immersion in the specific chapter. It’s efficient, it’s powerfully vivid, and it’s darkly delightful to read. “Alchemical weapons inflicted terrible casualties on the armies of Ishmere. Saints dying in agony, their bones transmuted to lead, their lungs seared by poisonous gas. Phlogiston fires that cannot be quenched still burn on the battlefield.” I loved reading Hanrahan’s prose; the choices and structure of words he constructed clicked with me remarkably well, and this is most evident when I’m reading his action sequences that are full of blasting devastations. Following the previous book’s tradition, the final quarter of this book was bloody magnificent and heart-pounding, Hanrahan’s depicted a gathering of madness where humans, divinities, machinery, sorcery, and monstrosities all clashed diabolically for supremacy or survival. The Shadow Saint did sacrifice the appearances of some alchemical hell from the previous book in exchange for more tempestuous fury brought by the gods and humans. For instance, this gigantic spider: “Eight legs arch from horizon to horizon, arching higher than the sky. Eight eyes like moons blaze with madness and hatred. Mandibles quiver as they taste the secret thoughts of every living soul in the city, and fangs drop godly venom that splashes on the southern wall of the fort, melting the stones. The sun does not set – it flees the master of shadows, the lord of whispers.” The feeling of doom birthed from the gargantuan desolation was amplified by the gloom and color of the sky that’s filled with vengeful gods; the battling Gods and Saints—an avatar of Gods—under the cloud of darkness conjured destructive lightning and a maelstrom of horror. In the face of a blazing burning sword and an indestructible holy armor, it’s safe to say that when the gods meddle, the mortals tremble. In the words of Saint Aleena: “Fucking fuckers are trying to fuck us.” “Victory means a slow and bloody grind: kill every worshipper, tear down every temple, break every relic, dispel every miracle – and do it all again, over and over, until the god’s a forgotten shadow, shrieking in the void.” I’m going to end my review here; it’s 1.5k words already and this review has taken me four hours to write. The Shadow Saint is an unconventional, unpredictable, and undeniably brilliant sequel to the best fantasy debut of 2019. Count on Hanrahan to deliver an imaginative, refreshing, and explosive reading experience and he shall distribute it to you mercilessly. Same as The Gutter Prayer, the stellar and intelligently crafted nature of The Shadow Saint left a mind-blowing impression on me. With The Shadow Saint, Hanrahan cemented his spot as one of the most inventive storytellers in the genre. I honestly don’t know where the story will go from here, but I’m definitely excited to find out as soon as possible.Official release date: 9th January 2020 (UK) and 7th January 2020 (US)You can pre-order the book from: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Book Depository (Free shipping)The quotes in this review were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions
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  • Nick Borrelli
    January 1, 1970
    I would first like to say that The Black Iron Legacy series by Gareth Hanrahan has officially become one of my favorite current dark fantasy series going, to the extent that I anticipate each new release now with bated breath. The world that Hanrahan has created in these books is so incredibly cool and unique that it almost defies explanation. I had an inkling that I would enjoy THE SHADOW SAINT, but I wasn't prepared to love it so much that I would alienate myself from my family for nights on I would first like to say that The Black Iron Legacy series by Gareth Hanrahan has officially become one of my favorite current dark fantasy series going, to the extent that I anticipate each new release now with bated breath. The world that Hanrahan has created in these books is so incredibly cool and unique that it almost defies explanation. I had an inkling that I would enjoy THE SHADOW SAINT, but I wasn't prepared to love it so much that I would alienate myself from my family for nights on end as I flew through its 560 pages. I just had to find out how it ended as quickly as possible. I will try my best to put this experience into words although I am sure that I will fail in that endeavor.The events that culminated book one of this series, The Gutter Prayer, left much of Guerdon and its surrounding territories in a state of flux. A once great land has now become a stomping ground for all types of miscreants and criminals, as well as various poor and downtrodden inhabitants. Lawlessness reigns supreme and the only rule that governs at the moment is one where there are no rules. What was unleashed in the previous book has literally decimated Guerdon and created a destitute New City in its wake. Yet inexplicably that may not be the worst thing to have happened to the beleaguered city of spires, labyrinths, and shadows.For word has slowly leaked out that there may be a secret weapon buried inside this New City that may turn the tide for anyone who can claim it and harness its power. And as the struggle for power between the two most prominent factions in the godswar grows and intensifies, it is incumbent upon each to send agents into a city of abominations and creatures beyond imagining to recover it for their own deadly ambitions. The problem may not be so much in finding this doomsday weapon, but rather in making it back out alive past the ghouls that lurk among Guerdon's ghostly catacombs and gloomy crevices.What is becoming even more clear with each passing moment is that the godswar is indeed coming to a head, and whoever is able to possess this most vaunted weapon capable of obliterating a god will most-likely declare victory. In its attempt to remain neutral, Guerdon has also left itself exposed to attacks that could change the face of its history for ages to come. Yet there continue to be those sandwiched between the closing vice of these invading armies who hold out hope that they may fend off the oncoming war. But how can mere mortals compete in a scenario where ruthless gods are the main combatants and horrific magic is wielded without mercy.Wow, was this just an unbelievable read. I thought that The Gutter Prayer was very good, but this book takes the story to an entirely new level and alludes to a potentially phenomenal final installment. Middle books are usually known for being a bit slower as the plot normally shifts in some way and sometimes even crawls as things are set up for the climactic third book, but that is nowhere near the case with THE SHADOW SAINT. I actually thought the action was even more intense in this book and the pace was a good deal faster.I applaud Gareth Hanrahan for once again formulating some of the most spectacular world-building that I've read in a really long time. As someone who appreciates exceptional world-building and a deeply textured history in my fantasy reads (almost to the exclusion of everything else), you can't get much better than this series. Usually the characters are what drive the story, and I'm not saying that Hanrahan doesn't write great characters, but Guerdon itself is such an intricate and amazing construct that it evolves into a main character unto itself. As such it is really interesting to explore this world through the eyes of the narrator and each individual character.And speaking of characters, things are slightly different in THE SHADOW SAINT in that the viewpoint characters are entirely different from The Gutter Prayer. We do get to revisit our familiar favorites and they do impact this particular story significantly, but they are not the main characters here. I thought it was a refreshing change and it made this book feel somewhat separate from book one, while still advancing the story in an effective and fascinating way. I truly can't say enough about this book and series as Hanrahan has taken what he established in the first book and given us another absolute winner of a book to savor. If you are looking for one of the best dark fantasy series being published today, look no further than The Black Iron Legacy. It's so difficult to find a book with such a stark and ominous subject matter, yet makes you feel utterly delighted and entertained while you're reading it. I'd say that is a talent that few writers have the ability to master, but Hanrahan has done so in spades in my opinion. You can preorder THE SHADOW SAINT right now on Amazon, as the official release date isn't until January 7th (just a few days away!). While you are waiting I recommend that you grab book one, The Gutter Prayer and dive into this brilliantly inventive series as soon as possible. I'm not sure how Gareth Hnrahan is going to top THE SHADOW SAINT, but I'm eager to find out.
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  • Dannii Elle
    January 1, 1970
    This is the second instalment in The Black Iron Legacy series, which is fast becoming one of my favourites!Guerdon was destroyed at the end of The Gutter Prayer and a partially new city placed directly atop of the old. The two are at war for dominance but the gods are circling ever closer and put the petty whims of mortals beneath them in their quest for power. Spies are sent to learn the secrets of those wishing to govern this divided city, but they become increasingly embroiled in more than This is the second instalment in The Black Iron Legacy series, which is fast becoming one of my favourites!Guerdon was destroyed at the end of The Gutter Prayer and a partially new city placed directly atop of the old. The two are at war for dominance but the gods are circling ever closer and put the petty whims of mortals beneath them in their quest for power. Spies are sent to learn the secrets of those wishing to govern this divided city, but they become increasingly embroiled in more than mere political schemes as they infiltrate the inner-circle of the elite and the hearts of those around them. I'm actually in awe of how convoluted the religious and political systems were in this book! Book one focused primarily on the abundance of religions that humans devoted their lives to. The dead were fed to them, lives given to their honour, temples constructed in devotion, and daily prayers made. The Gods returned these favours by imbuing their powers into select mortals, breaking their minds and bodies apart as they forced their way into the lesser beings. Wars were fought in their name and future ones forever impending.This threat is carried over into book two. It still heavily features these religious aspects but as the reader becomes more aware of them and the world surrounding it, political schemings begin to take central focus. I found it a fascinating insight to campaigning and the vying of the power-hungry, complex and ever altering.Beloved characters returned from the first book and took their place even more firmly in my heart. New characters were introduced and as their paths intermingled and the story-line forever upped the ante, this book set itself up for an action-packed and thrilling third series instalment I am impatient to get my hands upon!I received this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the author, Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan, and the publisher, Orbit, for this opportunity.
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  • TS Chan
    January 1, 1970
    ARC received from the publisher, Orbit, in exchange for an honest review.The Gutter Prayer had been constantly lauded as one of the best debuts of 2019. Hanrahan's imaginative and extraordinary dark fantasy worldbuilding, as well as his unique voice, continued to impress in its sequel, The Shadow Saint. The city of Guerdon itself remained the highlight of the story to me. Again, Hanharan imbued his writing with such an vivid and evocative imagery of Guerdon that it felt like a living, breathing ARC received from the publisher, Orbit, in exchange for an honest review.The Gutter Prayer had been constantly lauded as one of the best debuts of 2019. Hanrahan's imaginative and extraordinary dark fantasy worldbuilding, as well as his unique voice, continued to impress in its sequel, The Shadow Saint. The city of Guerdon itself remained the highlight of the story to me. Again, Hanharan imbued his writing with such an vivid and evocative imagery of Guerdon that it felt like a living, breathing thing. If you've read The Gutter Prayer, you would've known that Guerdon has undergone a marvellous transformation arising from the climactic ending of that book. New City has arisen on top of the old - beautiful, white and pearly marble towers, spires and bridges covered half of the slums of the Wash. And New City continues to shift and change as necessity arises. I believe it is also important to highlight that although The Shadow Saint followed fairly closely after the events in the previous book, the main characters are not the same. Two of the three are completely new to the readers, being characters from different parts of the world. One is an unnamed spy who has an agenda which remained opaque for a large part of the story. The other, Terevant, is the second-in-line heir to the House Erevesic of the Haith who worshipped a death-god; death is not wholly permanent for these people. One the previous supporting cast, Eladora, who is the cousin to Carillion, is now a main POV character. The key cast of Cari, Spar and Rat from the previous book did not appear until about one third into the book. Similar to The Gutter Prayer, it took me quite a while to feel invested in the new characters. Fortunately, the narrative involving the spy and Terevant kept me intrigued as it gave me new information about the gods; the power of the Houses of Haith is so fascinating. The key plot of this book is about the impending Godswar that is due to arrive on the shores of Guerdon, which is also now on the brink of a political upheaval. I was torn between these two dominant storylines. I loved all the worldbuilding around the gods and saints. Very much less so with the political intrigue. However, testament to Hanrahan's writing and plotting skill, the story kept transforming as it progresses - getting better and better - as both major plotlines coalesce seamlessly when the paths of our three main characters finally collide. It was about slightly halfway into the book where it became really engaging and interesting for me. The climactic finale was exhilarating and explosive to say the least. The Shadow Saint is an intriguing and fantastic continuation of The Black Iron Legacy. As all sequels should do, it built upon the world, escalated the tension and increased the stakes. It's purely my lack of interest in any politics-heavy narrative that made me enjoy this instalment less than its predecessor.You can purchase the book from: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Book Depository (Free shipping)You can find this and my other reviews at Novel Notions.
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  • FanFiAddict
    January 1, 1970
    Rating: 9.5/10Thanks to Hachette Audio, Libro.fm, the author, and the narrator for an advance listening copy of The Shadow Saint (The Black Iron Legacy #2) in exchange for an honest review. Receiving this ALC did not influence my thoughts or opinions.The Gutter Prayer (The Black Legacy #1) was one of my favorite debuts of 2019. It was unlike any fantasy story Id ever read before and felt like the beginning of something ground-breaking. It checked off all of the boxes of what I enjoy in a fantasy Rating: 9.5/10Thanks to Hachette Audio, Libro.fm, the author, and the narrator for an advance listening copy of The Shadow Saint (The Black Iron Legacy #2) in exchange for an honest review. Receiving this ALC did not influence my thoughts or opinions.The Gutter Prayer (The Black Legacy #1) was one of my favorite debuts of 2019. It was unlike any fantasy story I’d ever read before and felt like the beginning of something ground-breaking. It checked off all of the boxes of what I enjoy in a fantasy novel and left its hook deep inside me once the final page was turned. To say I utterly enjoyed it is an understatement.But now we have The Shadow Saint, and if I utterly enjoyed the predecessor, I was absolutely enamored with the sequel. This is one of those sophomore novels you dream about reading; one that takes all of the components of the freshman hit and doubles down, shattering any preconceived notions about where the author was going to steer the adventure. I don’t know that I can say I have ever read a better second book in a series.While Book 1 had a steady focus on three young thieves (Cari, Rat, and Spar), Book 2 shifts the perspectives to two (2) brand new characters (Terevant Erevesic and The Spy) and one (1) that we were introduced to the first time around (Eladora Duttin). While this may be a disappointment to some, and was to me prior to cracking open the book, that thought process changes rather quickly. The author did a fantastic job of instantaneously bringing said characters to the forefront, giving the reader ample opportunities to become emotionally involved with each, and maybe even one to find a new favorite character. On top of that, Hanrahan wastes zero time catching the reader up to speed with the state of things after “The Gutter Miracle” sprouted the New City and changed everything we knew about Guerdon, and the characters we became so familiar with the first time around.The world-building that I found to be spectacular in The Gutter Prayer was nothing compared to the ever-expanding, miraculous landscapes Hanrahan poses in The Shadow Saint. If you can’t see his background in RPGs whilst reading this novel, you need to reassess what you know about the genre. From the buildings and sewers to the cobblestones that make up the streets, nothing is left boring or barren. Nothing is left to the imagination except for picturing yourself running alongside the protagonists.I could go on and on all day about this novel, but you really just need to experience it for yourself. If you enjoyed The Gutter Prayer, I feel that you will fall in love with The Shadow Saint as I did. If you haven’t given this series a go, what are you waiting for?I also want to give a much deserved shoutout to the narrator, John Banks. He became one of my favorite narrators while working my way through Josiah Bancroft’s The Books of Babel series, and even onto listening to Jon Hollins’ Fool’s Gold (The Dragon Lords #1). If you enjoy audiobooks at any level at all, definitely check out his library. He will always be a Top 5 for me, alongside the likes of Jim Dale, Joe Jameson, Tim Gerard Reynolds, and Roy Dotrice (RIP).
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  • Rob Hayes
    January 1, 1970
    I believe we are living in something of a golden age of fantasy. There's so much being published and with such a variety of worlds and styles on display, that I feel honoured to be part of it. When I picked up The Gutter Prayer last year, this sentiment was really hit home for me. The level of imagination and world building and characterisation on display was so damned impressive! So I've been itching to start reading the sequel. Well I finally got around to it!The Shadow Saint picks up a few I believe we are living in something of a golden age of fantasy. There's so much being published and with such a variety of worlds and styles on display, that I feel honoured to be part of it. When I picked up The Gutter Prayer last year, this sentiment was really hit home for me. The level of imagination and world building and characterisation on display was so damned impressive! So I've been itching to start reading the sequel. Well I finally got around to it!The Shadow Saint picks up a few months after the Crisis (which is what the city of Guerdon is calling the mind-bending finale of book 1). A lot has changed in the city, and yet not a lot has changed. There's still plenty of politicking, back stabbing, god-touched violence, and mysteries to be solved. Only now there's a few new players to the game... Because the Godswar is coming to Guerdon.This book once again displays Hanrahan's imagination in full force. It helps by the fact that the gods are such a dominant presence on the world and through their saints and their miracles, almost anything is possible. We get the empire of Haith, necromancers extraordinaire, added to the mix. The dragons of Lyrix, and the entire warlike pantheon of Ishmere. It all gets a bit nuts!I do have one little issue. It had a very slow start. It's a long book, 560 pages in paperback form, and it wasn't until about page 200 that the pace really picked up and it felt like things were happening. This is partly because we're given a largely new cast of characters, with histories to explore. And partly because the concept and players behind the Godswar needed expanding upon and much of it was done via exposition. It all just made for a bit of a slow start... but when it got going... IT GO GOING!All in, I'm giving this book 4 stars. I loved it and cannot wait for book 3!
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  • Hamad
    January 1, 1970
    DNF @10%★ I am going to be honest here, It is my fault that I requested an ARC of this, I take full responsibility for that. The truth is that almost all my friends loved book 1 and I requested this while barely reading a few pages of book 1. I wanted the motivation to read the book and having book 2 always help me to do that.★ But the truth is that I found that book 1 is good but the writing style is not for me, I think it is a bit dense (subjectively speaking) and this is really an unpopular DNF @10%★ I am going to be honest here, It is my fault that I requested an ARC of this, I take full responsibility for that. The truth is that almost all my friends loved book 1 and I requested this while barely reading a few pages of book 1. I wanted the motivation to read the book and having book 2 always help me to do that.★ But the truth is that I found that book 1 is good but the writing style is not for me, I think it is a bit dense (subjectively speaking) and this is really an unpopular opinion. I have to concentrate very much to understand what I am reading and when I do that I enjoy it but I can't do that for more than a few paragraphs. I think that defeats the purpose because it makes it more like a chore than fun for me.★ The book started with an awesome prologue and I decided that I will give it a chance, but soon it was my experience with book 1 all over again. I decided that I am not going to continue this series for now and I wish nothing but the best for the author as he seems like a very nice person.★ I am not going to give this a rating because I don't want to negatively rate a book for a mistake that I made!!! I think you should take this review with a grain of salt and focus on the positive reviews because there are way more of those! If you read this or book 1, I really hope you like them and happy reading :D
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  • Lou
    January 1, 1970
    The Shadow Saint is the second book in The Black Iron Legacy trilogy, but I would recommend reading The Gutter Prayer prior to this as it doesn't stand well on its own and the events will make so much more sense having completed the series opener. I must say that I found this even more engrossing than TGP which I certainly wasn't expecting and much of the confusion over the Godswar was clarified leaving you with a much deeper understanding of where the story is heading. The fact that Hanrahan The Shadow Saint is the second book in The Black Iron Legacy trilogy, but I would recommend reading The Gutter Prayer prior to this as it doesn't stand well on its own and the events will make so much more sense having completed the series opener. I must say that I found this even more engrossing than TGP which I certainly wasn't expecting and much of the confusion over the Godswar was clarified leaving you with a much deeper understanding of where the story is heading. The fact that Hanrahan has brought in new and interesting characters is a stroke of genius and ensures that the plot evolves and moves in several fascinating and previously unexplored directions; whether you end up enjoying this second instalment will depend largely on whether you connect to the new cast of characters or not.Although this particular Hanrahan series is all but done and dusted I eagerly await his next majestic story and richly-imagined world. And you can always wholeheartedly trust and rely on him to produce an original, complex plot, descriptive prose, powerful characters and breathtaking worldbuilding. If you enjoy novels with a potent mixture of all of those stunning aspects this will appeal to you. It very much had me partaking in the literary equivalent of angel v devil on the shoulder, with one telling me to keep devouring it and another telling me to savour it more, just like the during previous instalments except the closer we get to the climax of the series the more intensely and rapidly the consuming was that I did. Definitely a testament to Hanrahan's story weaving. Highly recommended. Many thanks to Orbit for an ARC.
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  • Adam
    January 1, 1970
    Hanrahan takes a new approach in this follow-up to The Gutter Prayer, which was one of my favorite reads from 2019. While The Gutter Prayer had a nice mix of world-building, action, and character development, The Shadow Saint changed focus and spent about half the book on politics. Guerdon's leadership is in ruins after suffering so much damage from The Crisis about ten months before when The Shadow Saint picks up. Eladora, a supporting character from tGP, is thrust into the spotlight this time Hanrahan takes a new approach in this follow-up to The Gutter Prayer, which was one of my favorite reads from 2019. While The Gutter Prayer had a nice mix of world-building, action, and character development, The Shadow Saint changed focus and spent about half the book on politics. Guerdon's leadership is in ruins after suffering so much damage from The Crisis about ten months before when The Shadow Saint picks up. Eladora, a supporting character from tGP, is thrust into the spotlight this time around, as her intelligence and family's (and personal) involvement in the Crisis has given her a unique perspective on Guerdon's history and how to best recover. The city struggles to stay neutral during the War of the Gods, which is raging in all the surrounding nations. Gods of War are leading nations to rise and conquer above others, and Guerdon's defenses and historic neutrality may no longer be able to withstand the horrors and side effects of what a God War would have when brought to the doorstep of their remote nation.We are introduced to two new POVs: Terevant, the younger brother to an important mililtary and political leader, but pales in comparison and track record to his esteemed and famous sibling; and my personal favorite, The Spy, who wears personalities like clothes, and is able to change them just as easily. Terevant is called in to Guerdon to investigate the murder of an ambassador, while The Spy brings his ward, a young boy who is mentally linked to the Spider God, into the city for unknown purposes. The Spy is incredibly resourceful, and his agenda and purpose remains mysterious, but I will say that the end of the story has some huge implications for what the trilogy's conclusion may bring.But fans of Cari, Rat, and Spar need not worry -- all appear, in some form or another, and of varying degrees, in The Shadow Saint. The implications of Spar's fate at the end of The Gutter Prayer was one of the most interesting things I was looking forward to exploring in this sequel, and it did not disappoint. And once Eladora, Terevant, and The Spy's paths start to converge around the halfway mark of the book, it almost feels like it becomes a completely different story. There is breathless action, incredibly creative set pieces, and, a *massive* ending that spans 150+ pages that you'll want to put aside a full evening to read so you won't have to put it down. The Shadow Saint at times felt like a political thriller, a noirish murder mystery, a James Bond/Mission Impossible mashup, and a dash of Clash of the Titans. It's a weird combination of things, but it works. Really, really well. Hanrahan reminds me of Robert Jackson Bennett in terms of deep and rich world-building with a lot of thought put into how the supernatural affects various aspects of society. It's a ripping read, and recommended.
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  • Edel Ryder-hanrahan
    January 1, 1970
    Editing to add my proper review:Okay, I've got to admit to bias just like with "The Gutter Prayer", but it's my opinion that "The Shadow Saint" is actually a *better* book than the first in "The Black Iron Legacy" series. Way more becomes clear about The Godswar and we get to the see the growth of previous characters (particularly Eladora and Cari) in the wake of the events at the end of "The Gutter Prayer". There's a new and interesting PoV character who's got a mysterious background with a Editing to add my proper review:Okay, I've got to admit to bias just like with "The Gutter Prayer", but it's my opinion that "The Shadow Saint" is actually a *better* book than the first in "The Black Iron Legacy" series. Way more becomes clear about The Godswar and we get to the see the growth of previous characters (particularly Eladora and Cari) in the wake of the events at the end of "The Gutter Prayer". There's a new and interesting PoV character who's got a mysterious background with a very satisfying twist. Now the only problem with reading this one so early is that I've a longer wait for Book 3!(No, I'm not going to say anything. You'll all just have to wait until December - and it mightn't even be called this by then.)
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  • Justine
    January 1, 1970
    Originally posted to I Should Read ThatI received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This review is spoiler-free, but may contain spoilers for The Gutter Prayer.The Gutter Prayer tied for my #1 book of 2019, alongside The Bone Ships, and I was eagerly awaiting the release of The Shadow Saint. I was worried that the second book wouldnt live up to Hanrahans incredible debut, however I should have had more faith! The Shadow Saint is a very different, but equally brilliant book. Originally posted to I Should Read ThatI received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This review is spoiler-free, but may contain spoilers for The Gutter Prayer.The Gutter Prayer tied for my #1 book of 2019, alongside The Bone Ships, and I was eagerly awaiting the release of The Shadow Saint. I was worried that the second book wouldn’t live up to Hanrahan’s incredible debut, however I should have had more faith! The Shadow Saint is a very different, but equally brilliant book.The Shadow Saint takes place a few months after the events of The Gutter Prayer, and the city is still reeling from the Gutter Miracle. The Shadow Saint doesn't feel like a traditional sequel for a number of reason -- it is a little more dense than the first book and we follow new themes and story lines. Most prominently, however, we do not follow the three point of view characters -- Cari, Rat, and Spar -- from the first book. Instead, the story is told mainly from the perspective of a spy with many names and identities, a washed-up younger son of the Haith nobility, and former historian Eladora Duttin -- a side character from the first book and one of my favourite fantasy characters ever. At first, their stories seem disconnected from the plot of the first book and I was wondering if I had mistaken a companion novel for a sequel, however the points of view eventually begin to intertwine and each character's motivations become more and more clear. In this way, The Shadow Saint is a direct sequel that manages to feel like it has grown well beyond the first book.While The Gutter Prayer gave the reader an intensive look into the city of Guerdon as a setting, The Shadow Saint spreads beyond Guerdon’s walls. We get to see and learn much more of the wider world, especially in the context of the ongoing God’s War. The book still primarily takes place in Guerdon, however The Spy has connections to foreign saints and Terevant's begins the story in Haith and his culture and traditions play an important role in his actions and thought processes. Eladora, while a resident of Guerdon, also adds a layer of rich context to the story with her connection to the Gods and the Keepers. Each of these characters is so wildly different and intriguing that I had no issue shifting between their points of view. Once their storylines begin to merge, The Shadow Saint kicks into high gear and is a masterpiece. The way that Hanrahan builds upon the world in the first book is wonderful and so characteristically unique.I went into this book knowing very little and it was an absolute pleasure to unpick the layers of Hanrahan’s story. Beautifully written and expertly plotted, The Shadow Saint is a magnificent sequel and an absolute joy to read. If you liked the first book, you'll love the sequel.
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  • Kristen
    January 1, 1970
    Full review is here, on my blog!~This book carries on, more or less, from The Gutter Prayer, though it does follow different characters, for the most part.The city of Guerdon has changed since the events of the last book. There is a New City that has sprouted in the midst of everything, and it has become a refuge for the poor and the seedier residents of the city.There are rumours abound that hiding somewhere in the ghoul-filled tunnels of Guerdon, a weapon capable of killing the gods themselves Full review is here, on my blog!~This book carries on, more or less, from The Gutter Prayer, though it does follow different characters, for the most part.The city of Guerdon has changed since the events of the last book. There is a New City that has sprouted in the midst of everything, and it has become a refuge for the poor and the seedier residents of the city.There are rumours abound that hiding somewhere in the ghoul-filled tunnels of Guerdon, a weapon capable of killing the gods themselves can be found. While Guerdon tries very hard to stay neutral in the Godswar between the neighboring nations (and the gods therein) of Haith and Ishmere, both countries have sent people into the city to try and find this mysterious weapon and claim it for their side.Our story (mostly) follows Eladora Duttin, a woman who we met a little bit in The Gutter Prayer; Terevant Erevesic, the second son of a noble house in Haith, and the brother of the current ambassador of Haith in Guerdon; and a spy from Ishmere, who has several identities that he slips into when required.This one was just as fantastically written as its predecessor, with all kinds of awesome worldbuilding and twists and turns. While it was ever-present in the Guerdon of The Gutter Prayer, the vibe that I got from The Shadow Saint was very similar to that of China Miéville’s New Crobuzon. The city has a dirty, corrupt and ultimately otherworldly and weird feel to it, and boy, did Gareth Hanrahan really made me feel it. Like I once said about Perdido Street Station, this one gave me actual tangible reactions to the dangers or conditions of the city it takes place in. Things like disgust, repulsion, and fear. It should also be noted that in this case, just as in the case of New Crobuzon, I don’t mean this in a bad way. Not at all. Guerdon is supposed to feel corrupt and dangerous, and it does. A well told story can often make me emote for characters that I like or that I relate with, but it’s far more rare for me to have this sort of immersion in a world. Very well done.I rather liked Terevant as a character, and the spy. Eladora wasn’t my favorite, just as she really wasn’t in the first book, but it was still entertaining to read her parts of the story. Enough that I really never wanted to put the book down no matter who was moving the story forward. Alas, real life stuff always interrupts my reading time these days.All told, I thought this was a fantastic book in the Black Iron Legacy series, and I am excited to read more in the future!Thanks to the author, as well as Orbit via NetGalley for the review copy.
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  • Christine Sandquist (eriophora)
    January 1, 1970
    This review and others can be read on my blog, Black Forest Basilisks. The Shadow Saint is a devastatingly brilliant new installment in the Black Iron Legacy series by Gareth Hanrahan. Although the initial book, The Gutter Prayer, had a few weaknesses in the character development department, these were beautifully resolved and a complete nonissue in this sequel. Eladora is the primary focus of this novel, with Cari as a side character. Several new characters are also introduced: Alic, the spy, This review and others can be read on my blog, Black Forest Basilisks. The Shadow Saint is a devastatingly brilliant new installment in the Black Iron Legacy series by Gareth Hanrahan. Although the initial book, The Gutter Prayer, had a few weaknesses in the character development department, these were beautifully resolved and a complete nonissue in this sequel. Eladora is the primary focus of this novel, with Cari as a side character. Several new characters are also introduced: Alic, the spy, and Terevant, a man of Haith. As the Godswar closes in on Guerdon, the goals and aims of these three will align in unexpected ways. Fans of the worldbuilding from the previous novel won’t be disappointed; the expanded scope brings in a great deal of new information and helps fill in the cracks from the previous book.  If it’s been a while since you last read The Gutter Prayer, the author has courteously uploaded a quick refresher summarizing the most important plot points on his blog . I highly recommend it. My review of The Gutter Prayer can be found here , if you’re entirely new to the series.  Eladora was a fan favorite from the first book, and I suspect many readers will be excited to know that she’s the main protagonist of the sequel. Although I had trouble connecting with her initially, I found myself engaged and drawn in to her new narrative. She struggles with her desire to help her city and the lingering fears and trauma from The Crisis. Thoughts of Miren haunt her dreams, and she feels the shadows watching her at every turn. She’s landed in Effro Kelkin’s political sphere, a man who formerly controlled Guerdon’s parliament. She is a political canvasser, specifically focused on The New City created by Spar’s sacrifice and The Gutter Miracle.  Everyone else in Guerdon’s ruling elite sees the New City as a threat to public safety, a monstrous aberration that must be excised. Kelkin’s seen it for what it is – enough new votes to topple the balance of power in parliament. He hasn’t crashed his ship on the rocks. He’s beached it on a virgin shore. The New City, however, has a vigilante saint lurking in its depths. The Saint of Knives is well-known amongst the populace, protecting the locals from criminal syndicates and foreign saints. To some, she’s a figure of shadows and fear. To Eladora…. She’s her cousin, Carillon. Cari has much less screen time in this sequel, but I was much more interested in her nevertheless. I felt cheated by Spar’s death in The Gutter Prayer, but as it turns out, he’s not entirely gone. Spar has been transfigured, stretched, and contorted into becoming a part of the New City, nearly godlike, with Carillon as his erstwhile saint. Together, they change the very landscape to suit their needs. Unlike the true gods, however, Spar is unable to regenerate himself with souls or though any other magical means. Each expenditure of power lessens his ability to interact with the New City, and Carillon struggles with doing what is needed when the price is her friend.  Alic, or X84, or Sanhada Baradhin, or simply “the spy,” is perhaps the best embodiment of The Black Iron Legacy’s primary theme: change and transfiguration. Alic sheds identities like we should shed a coat. He lives in limbo, never fully committing to any one personality. Although he is, ostensibly, a spy for Ishmere, it quickly becomes apparent that his motivations are muddy and unclear at best. His loyalties are uncertain, but as he lives his Alic identity, he becomes more and more enmeshed into it until it’s difficult for him to know where Alic ends and the spy begins. His ward, a saint of Fate Spider, becomes important to Alic… and ultimately Alic begins to overcome and change the spy, in his own turn.  Taking on the roles of refugees from the Godswar was easy for both of them. Walk like you’re hollow. Keep your voice low, as though speaking too loud might attract the attention of some mad deity. Shudder when the weather changes, when light breaks through the clouds, when certain noises are too loud, too charged with significance. Flinch at portents. The man whose name is not Sanhada Baradhin and the boy who didn’t have a name arrived on board the steamer a week ago with bowed heads, shuffling up the gangplank with a crowd of other survivors. What we see of Ishmere, largely through Alic, is horrifying. Ishmere’s pantheon is currently set to win the Godswar; to the lion-headed goddess, Pesh, the Lion Queen, war is holy. War is endless, To conquer in war is her only purpose, and she will fulfill it at all costs. Every soul that dies on the battlefield goes to her, grows her, expands her. With support of the Kraken, Cloud Mother, and the rest of the pantheon… the Kept Gods of Guerdon, starved of soul-stuff and with only a handful of saints to their name, have little hope of defending their shores.  The goddess Pesh, Lion Queen, war-goddess of the Ishmeric pantheon – or rather her avatar, made from Captain Isigi – purrs in satisfaction and settles back onto her seat. The spy notes without alarm that the simple wooden chair is now a throne of skulls, that the trestle table has become a blood-soaked altar. The hearts begin to beat again, squirting jets of crimson across the floor. The file folder, though, is still a file folder. Isigi – or is the overlapping entity in front of him more Pesh than Isigi now? – picks it up, extends a claw and slices through the metal seal holding it shut. The spy shudders at the grace of the movement, knowing that those selfsame claws recently tore a half-mile rent in the hillside below. Isigi removes the papers, reviews them in silence. The tent reverberates with her divine breath, which smells of meat and sandalwood. Everything comes down to this. Through Terevant, brother to the Erevesic, we see a glimpse of the other side of the Godswar. Haith has been the primary opponent of Ishmere thus far, holding the front lines. Their god of death isn’t exactly present in the same way as Ishmere’s pantheon, but the undead Vigilant who hold front lines of the war are existence enough. In Ishmere, you’re no one one until you’re dead, after all. The great houses hold phylacteries, such as the Sword Erevesic, that allow, once again, a soul to be transfigured into a piece of a greater whole upon death. Terevant is still alive, and is very much hoping to remain that way. The political situation in Guerdon is fraught with danger for him, as his brother and his brother’s wife pull him in opposing directions.  The biggest and most important change between The Shadow Saint and the Gutter prayer lies in the characters. Here, the characters feel less like they exist to support and a plot, and more like agents who create the plot as their actions and decisions impact the world around them. They all interweave beautifully, creating an intricate web of cause and effect that I felt was missing in the first book. The worldbuilding, which previously became a bit of an infodump at times, now happens organically through the knowledge and experiences of the characters. Terevant and Alic, in particular, showcase Guerdon from an outsider’s perspective. To them, The Crisis was distant history; they weren’t a part of it like Cari and Eladora. It’s a fresh, new perspective on the city as it currently exists vs the perspective of those who have lived through its most recent incarnation.  I’ll confess, I was slightly hesitant when I picked up this book based on my experience with The Gutter Prayer; I was worried that it would drag, that the hefty page count would feel slow. Instead, I found myself anxious to pick up the book each time I had to set it down, constantly on the edge of my seat, and unable to wait to find out what the characters would do next. The final third of the book, in particular, had me curious and guessing. There was a small portion in the middle that felt a little slow, but it paid off in the end. Hanrahan’s growth as a writer is deeply impressive, and I am eagerly awaiting the next installment in The Black Iron Legacy.If you enjoyed this review, please consider reading others like it on my blog, Black Forest Basilisks.
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  • Shae
    January 1, 1970
    "Uncertainty leads to fear. Fear leads to a desire to own weapons of terror and irresistible fury."This was an excellent read! Although the story built tension slowly through out the first two thirds of the book - I was not at all bored. I was absorbed by the attention to detail in the world building and the in depth exploration of all the political maneuvering and religious factions at play in the city of Guerdon. A city on the cusp of the Godswar.The final third of the book delivered plenty of "Uncertainty leads to fear. Fear leads to a desire to own weapons of terror and irresistible fury."This was an excellent read! Although the story built tension slowly through out the first two thirds of the book - I was not at all bored. I was absorbed by the attention to detail in the world building and the in depth exploration of all the political maneuvering and religious factions at play in the city of Guerdon. A city on the cusp of the Godswar.The final third of the book delivered plenty of excitement and I particularly loved seeing the character growth of Eladora Duttin, from a somewhat shy and awkward scholar to something of a political mastermind! "You can't bear the weight of a sword forever. Sooner or later, you have to put it down." - Eladora Duttin.Can not wait to see where things will go in Book Three of the Black Iron Legacy!
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  • Vigasia
    January 1, 1970
    The Gutter Prayer by Gareth Hanrahan was one of my favourite reads last year and I can honestly say that The Shadow Saint is even better and I am sure will find a place in my top 10 of 2020. Yes, it starts slow, but it is understandable, because we are introduced to new characters and we are filled with more information about the world.But after that the pace gets a lot faster and doesn't slow to the end. We have three main PoV's in this book and only one of them we met in previous book. Our new The Gutter Prayer by Gareth Hanrahan was one of my favourite reads last year and I can honestly say that The Shadow Saint is even better and I am sure will find a place in my top 10 of 2020. Yes, it starts slow, but it is understandable, because we are introduced to new characters and we are filled with more information about the world.But after that the pace gets a lot faster and doesn't slow to the end. We have three main PoV's in this book and only one of them we met in previous book. Our new friends are Terevant a disgraced brother of the ambassador from the important family of Haith, and Alic (or the spy) who is much more mysterious. Terevant I liked from the start but I needed time to feel warmth to Alic (maybe because his chapters were the slowest), but then he grew up on me, and after that ... well, I'm not gonna spoil anything but things got interesting.The main protagonist is Eladora who we met before. After finishing The Gutter Prayer I thought that she's a character with a most potential and I wasn't wrong. I wthink I like her as a protagonist more than I liked Cari. I love her character development thorugh this book, we can see as she finds a an inner strength and becomes a hero of the story. Now I think that she has even more potential to become someone legendary.As for characters from the previous book, we meet them. Cari plays quite a role and Rat is present, too, though mostly at the end of the book. There's even a little of Spar but unfortunately in another form. I also liked some other characters, like Silkpurse who we meet briefly in the first book and now she became a good ally to our friends.As for a plot there's a lot going on in the Guerdon. The city is alive, but it is not safe. There is much more politics in this book. There are people who want to take care of the city and make it whole again but the danger from foreign gods is present and the threat of war is real.The Shadow Saint is brilliant book, full of the great atmopshere of previous novel, but richer with worldbuilding and details. Characters are great and memorable. It was one of those books you want to finish to know how it ends but don't want to finish because you don't want to say goodbye to the world. I think it fully deserves 5 stars,
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  • Mogsy (MMOGC)
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2020/01/09/...Heres what you need to know about The Shadow Saint: it is the second book of The Black Iron Legacy series by Gareth Hanrahan, but it doesnt really follow the tradition of a direct sequel. While the story picks up soon after the events of The Gutter Prayer, the focus has mostly shifted to another set of characters, though a lot of familiar faces from the first book return. Not surprisingly, when it comes to these types of 3.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2020/01/09/...Here’s what you need to know about The Shadow Saint: it is the second book of The Black Iron Legacy series by Gareth Hanrahan, but it doesn’t really follow the tradition of a direct sequel. While the story picks up soon after the events of The Gutter Prayer, the focus has mostly shifted to another set of characters, though a lot of familiar faces from the first book return. Not surprisingly, when it comes to these types of sequels, it’s also common for a shift in tone, and indeed we see a little bit of that happening here. Obviously, your experience will differ based on your own personal preferences, but it was because of this shift that I felt The Shadow Saint was not as strong as The Gutter Prayer, which had a plot and themes that suited me better. That said, this was still a good book and a respectable follow-up. It just felt different, which can be either a negative or a positive depending on your tastes.Also keep in mind that because this is a review to a sequel, it may contain plot details from the previous book, and I recommend being caught up first if you want to avoid any possible spoilers. In the aftermath of the chaotic events at the end of The Gutter Prayer, Guerdon is left in shambles with a power vacuum waiting to be filled. Amidst the lawlessness left by what is now known as the Gutter Miracle, the area has become a neutral haven for all manner of displaced groups, from roving bands of brigands to exiled saints and other magical creatures. In a move to bring some semblance of order back into their lives, residents of the newly created neighborhood known as New City are gearing up for the upcoming election to gain representation in the parliament.Found in the middle of all this is Eladora Duttin, a returning character from the first book, who is now a political operative for the Industrial Liberal party working on behalf of Kelkin. While Guerdon is in the process of being rebuilt, the city’s many factions are all vying to gain the upper hand while rumors abound of a godswar looming on the horizon. Terevant Erevesic, newly appointed guard captain, is assigned the task of recovering Guerdon’s god bombs, powerful weapons said to be buried beneath the city which would make anyone who controlled them an unstoppable force. Sliding into whatever role is required for him, an unnamed man only known as “The Spy” also adopts the persona of a refugee named Alic Nemon, whose secret agenda will remain shrouded in mystery until such time that the plot chooses to reveal all.Since Eladora was one of my favorites from the first book, I was excited to discover she was one of the main perspective characters. As a matter of fact, settling in with our new protagonists was certainly not an issue for me. Instead, I had a difficult time developing an interest in the story, which has shifted heavily into the political sphere and focusing on the destabilizing effect of clashing factions. These themes play a big role in The Shadow Saint, and to put it bluntly, they aren’t the most engaging or entertaining of topics, even with the fascinating setting of Guerdon as a backdrop. To be honest, I’d much rather be reading more about the god and the saints, the rich history of the city, its extraordinary cultures and magic and creatures and pretty much everything that made the first book such an eye-opening experience. But it seems Hanrahan had other plans, continuing at length with the comings and goings within a politically charged New City.If intrigue and machinations are your bag, I think you will love The Shadow Saint. But if you are like me, having loved the world-building and originality from The Gutter Prayer, then you might end up feeling the elements of magic, action, and lore craft in this sequel are lacking. It’s ironic, really, how I felt that the world-building almost overshadowed everything else in the first book, whereas in this one I couldn’t seem to get enough. Thankfully, I think the more time you spend with the book, the easier it is to feel invested, especially once the new characters like Terevant and Alic start giving you more reasons to care about what happens to them. It helps too that the familiar trio of Cari, Spar, and Rat show up for the last section of the book in their various capacities. This development meshes well with the overall crux of the novel, which relates to the impending godswar, culminating in a conclusion that will make you glad you saw things through to the end.Ultimately, if The Shadow Saint feels like a slight departure from The Gutter Prayer, that’s because it sort of is. Still, that itself is not a complaint; I think it’s refreshing for sequels to be a little different than their predecessors so that we don’t get a repeat of the same old, same old. However, this time around, the narrative was steeped in the politics of this world, and while this may have added a thought-provoking and suspenseful touch to the story, it also made some earlier parts of the book a bit slow and dull. That being said, sooner or later you do get drawn into the plot, but the sloggier, denser sections also meant things took longer to get off the ground. Personally, I thought the first book was better, but this was a solid sequel nonetheless, and I look forward to see where the third installment will take us next.Audiobook Comments: This was a long audiobook, coming in at nearly twenty hours, and I daresay some of the slower sections would have been more of a struggle to get through had it not been for a fantastic narrator. John Banks’ performance was strong and confident, and I think narrators like him possess a certain timbre and tone in their voices that make them perfectly suited to reading dark gritty fantasy.
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  • Kayli
    January 1, 1970
    The plot of The Shadow Saint follows on from the aftermath of The Gutter Prayer, which was my favourite book of 2019. However, the main narrative voices do not follow the same characters as the previous book, although they do feature in the story. It was a great experience watching one of the minor characters from The Gutter Prayer develop their own strong sense of identity and endure their own journey, whilst also catching up with what our previous characters are doing now. The story line The plot of The Shadow Saint follows on from the aftermath of The Gutter Prayer, which was my favourite book of 2019. However, the main narrative voices do not follow the same characters as the previous book, although they do feature in the story. It was a great experience watching one of the minor characters from The Gutter Prayer develop their own strong sense of identity and endure their own journey, whilst also catching up with what our previous characters are doing now. The story line continues to follow the war of the Gods and the politicking and scheming that goes on alongside this. Gareth's world building remains amazing throughout and, for me, his writing style is hard to beat. I am already looking forward to the next instalment.
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  • Filip
    January 1, 1970
    Series: The Black Iron Legacy # 2Published by: OrbitGenre: Dark Fantasy, Grimdark, High FantasyPages: 567Format: e-bookReview Copy Courtesy of NetGalleyIf you havent read The Gutter Prayer and dont know if you want to, read my review of it here.The Gutter Prayer was an exceptional debut no matter how hard I thought about the story, I couldnt find anything wrong with it! In The Shadow Saint, Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan opens up Guerdon to all-new existential threats, which our cast of new and Series: The Black Iron Legacy # 2Published by: OrbitGenre: Dark Fantasy, Grimdark, High FantasyPages: 567Format: e-bookReview Copy Courtesy of NetGalleyIf you haven’t read The Gutter Prayer and don’t know if you want to, read my review of it here.The Gutter Prayer was an exceptional debut – no matter how hard I thought about the story, I couldn’t find anything wrong with it! In The Shadow Saint, Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan opens up Guerdon to all-new existential threats, which our cast of new and returning heroes are sorely lacking in preparation for; while some characters were dearly missed, their absence keenly felt at one time or another, the cast swells with memorable new names.I spoke last time of how Guerdon was akin to a living being, a city of immense character equalled by Dickens’ London in Bleak House, for example; what I had not foreseen back when I first drew the comparison was that one of the major characters of the first novel would literally transform into a large part of the city. Following the Gutter Miracle which took place during the culmination of the first novel, Guerdon has undergone a transformation; the so-called New City is a triumph of one man’s will, an organism made of stone with a benevolent will of its own. But some things remain the same:"Feverish, pugnacious, the city is alive in a way she hasn’t seen since before the Crisis. She can almost forget that, less than a year ago, this square was besieged by monsters. When the gutters ran with blood, and the sky filled with vengeful gods."Time and again, Hanrahan shows mastery over character voice. Eladora’s introspections are an academic’s curiosity through and through (I would know); the spy, meanwhile, thinks exactly as a spy would, studying every angle, observing every situation, looking always for an edge to gain on everyone else for his own purposes. His masks take on a life of their own, personas he puts on and then discards. Some stick, however, and this allows us to touch upon a topic of great interest to me – just when does pretense turn to reality? The spy’s point of view is masterful – not since Sins of Empire have I come across such a compelling shadow operative. And this one, with all due respect to Brian, would run circles around Michel. The Haithian, Terevant’s, way of viewing the world is that of a poet in a soldier’s uniform. I adored the story of this failed officer, a failed younger scion of the powerful Everesic family, as he sought to redeem himself in the eyes of kin and country, only to realize…but no, that would spoil something, wouldn’t it? “He dislikes feeling hollow. He wants to be on his way already, to fill himself with purpose.” Terevant has a lot going for him, and his storyline is satisfying from beginning to end.I took great pleasure in Eladora’s stolen moments of thaumaturgical studies, the magic system Hanrahan employs is interesting and costly to the caster:"She clenches her first, slowly, imagining the spell paralyzing a target, holding them in unseen chains of sorcery- but then she loses control, the magic slipping through her fingers. For a moment, her hand feels like she’s thrust it into an open fire, the unseen chains suddenly turned to molten metal, her skin blistering. A spell gone awry can discharge unpredictably – if she swallows the power she’s drawn down, she can ground it inside her body, risking internal damage. If she lets it go, she might ignite something, and this cramped backroom in the IndLib’s parliamentary office is crammed with papers and books."But a little magic is far from the most interesting skill Eladora acquires. Her evolution through The Shadow Saint marks the best character arc Hanrahan has written yet and I look forward to seeing how it’ll resolve in the third book of the series. There’s a lot of her former teacher Ongent in Eladora – as much, perhaps, as the effects of the Thay blood she was so uncomfortable with, in The Gutter Prayer.The spy – his endgame is such a good fucking mystery. I’m proud of calling his true identity about mid-way through. Still there was plenty to surprise me, and I wish, I really wish I could gush about how cool all of it is – but I dare not.What I missed, more than anything else, was the active part the Alchemists’ guild previously took in the political and social life of Guerdon. The horrid Tallowmen are gone, and so are the other vat-grown monstrosities that so chilled and thrilled me and many others. A little something was teased out towards the end of the novel, to do with a certain alchemist who appeared previously – which gives me hope that this most devious of players on Guerdon’s political board will make her return before all is said and done. The Keeper Church, meanwhile, features prominently throughout. I, like Eladora, missed Aleena, the fuming, cursing, flame-wielding saint of the Church; the Keeper Gods have kept busy after her fall, and have made themselves a fair amount of crazy idiot saints. Fanatics, plenty of fanatics – and you’ll love to hate them, just as I did.I appreciated what Hanrahan showed us of the world outside the city of Guerdon – the necromantic empire of Haith, a place in which the dead have long since outnumbered the living, once the greatest power in the world - now in retreat before an enemy that defies even their countless undead hordes; glimpses of Ishmere, with their mad gods, thirsty for ever greater expansion. Oh, and a cartel ran by dragons is a thing. Wicked, I know.Supporting character, whether new or returning ones, left an impression. Politician and reformist Effro Kelkin makes a return after his miraculous survival, attempting to finagle his way back to power. I love the man, and this description encapsulates everything great about his character: “He manages to be simultaneously the wily old trickster who knows how to pull every lever and work every cheat in the system, and the firebrand who’s going to burn it all down and build something better…A better tomorrow, if only you’ll believe in him – and yourself. No guilds, no gods – just honest hard work, charity and integrity.” Great character, possibly born in the wrong world. Other supporting characters I cheered for include the Haithian war hero Olthic, brother to Terevant, who works to make an ally of Guerdon, no matter the results of the oncoming election; a career politician who switches affiliations faster than I switch hairstyles; Ramegos, a brilliant thaumaturgist whose knowledge is indispensable to the IndLibs and Eladora alike; and Emlyn, a child-saint whose story is intricately linked to that of the spy.I continue to fall in love with this world and characters, the more I think about them. As I revisit the hundred passages I’ve highlighted for one reason or another, I am awed by the mastery Hanrahan shows – in quality of his prose, in the mastery of voice, in the deep worldbuilding he’s woven into this story of saints and mad gods. This is my book of January 2020, no doubt about it. My score for The Shadow Saint is 5/5 stars. The Black Iron Legacy series is worth every hour you’ll put into it, every minute. Every fucking second.
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  • THE BIBLIOPHILE (Rituranjan)
    January 1, 1970
    A strong sequel to the first book. Solidly plotted with an engaging storyline. However, I missed the furious eldritch pacing and tension which made The Gutter Prayer such a riveting read. This book has a lot of politicking, spying, and a calamitous threat that keeps looming at the edges of the narrative.The worldbuilding is superbly done, and the author meticulously widens the scope of the story. We get to glimpse a much wider world from Guerdon, though they're just glimpses. Majority of the A strong sequel to the first book. Solidly plotted with an engaging storyline. However, I missed the furious eldritch pacing and tension which made The Gutter Prayer such a riveting read. This book has a lot of politicking, spying, and a calamitous threat that keeps looming at the edges of the narrative.The worldbuilding is superbly done, and the author meticulously widens the scope of the story. We get to glimpse a much wider world from Guerdon, though they're just glimpses. Majority of the action is however limited to the two parts of Guerdon, the old and the new, and the author marvelously conceptualised the city as a part machine, and one vast living organism with its own mystery and callousness.There is a kind of taut suspense throughout the entire story, and it enhances the varied moods and tempos of the narrative. The characters are well-fleshed out. Personally I was intrigued by the Spy with multiple personalities. I loved the clever twist around him towards the end. There are a few new characters, apart from the familiar ones in the first book. I enjoyed reading their perspectives as well, and their overall role in the converging plotlines of the story.The book isn't action heavy, although there are short and ocassional fight scenes in between. The big fight happen in the last hundred pages or so, with mad gods, saints, monsters, undeads, ghouls, and humans spilling blood, and going on a rampage. It was sort of apocalyptic. I enjoyed the later half of the novel more, as the pacing kicks off after some 250 pages or so. But, I needn't say that the first half was boring, it was just a little slow-burn for me. I'll eagerly wait for the next book in the series.
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  • David Stewart
    January 1, 1970
    The Gutter Prayer was one of the few books that I have pulled off a bookstore shelf simply because the cover was so arresting. I did not know a thing about the book but ended up loving its gritty world and misfit cast of characters. The Shadow Saint, The Gutter Prayer's follow-up, goes in with the disadvantage of expectation - I knew mostly what I was in for and it was up to Hanrahan to deliver a worthy successor to his breakout hit. He did it, and while I think The Gutter Prayer might be the The Gutter Prayer was one of the few books that I have pulled off a bookstore shelf simply because the cover was so arresting. I did not know a thing about the book but ended up loving its gritty world and misfit cast of characters. The Shadow Saint, The Gutter Prayer's follow-up, goes in with the disadvantage of expectation - I knew mostly what I was in for and it was up to Hanrahan to deliver a worthy successor to his breakout hit. He did it, and while I think The Gutter Prayer might be the better novel, The Shadow Saint is in many ways the ideal way to showcase the middle chapter of a series. It is rare for a second book in a trilogy to be the one that everyone raves about (I know it happens, Star Wars fans), and so that tempered my wildest expectations enough that I was able to settle in to The Shadow Saint and simply enjoy myself.StrengthsWhat immediately caught the attention of most of The Gutter Prayer's readers was Hanrahan's world-building ability. The city of Guerdon is a character all its own, and like any good character, over the course of these novels it changes drastically. At the end of the first book, a New City is literally grown from the body of a dying man, giving the old city a coat of fresh paint that plays an integral part in the second book. Even beyond that, Hanrahan has such an interest in politics and religion and how they intermingle to form a society, that even did Guerdon not change in a very real physical sense, it would do so thematically. To add to this is Hanrahan's pantheon of gods - a group of deities that defy any logic and exist in the same way that the violent old gods of our own mythology do. In The Shadow Saint, gods from across the sea are coming to destroy Guerdon, and the city's only defense is a weaponized distillation of the Black Iron Gods, the very evil Carillon and Spar sought so desperately to stop in The Gutter Prayer.Part of what makes Guerdon so interesting is its tone. I always question why human beings choose to live in dangerous places, and my confusion extends to fantasy realms. Guerdon is not a friendly place, and why everyone hasn't moved out to the countryside to live in suburbs with SUVs and in-ground pools is beyond me, but I'm glad they haven't because I enjoy the constant sense of danger and weirdness that Guerdon offers. Adding in the New City, a place that can quite literally change with a thought, gives the entire thing an even weirder context - as though the characters aren't really on the mortal plane at all but rather existing in some city of the gods. It works, and Hanrahan's writing style fits it like a warm blanket.The Gutter Prayer had readers following Carillon, Spar, and Rat as they tried to survive a veritable apocalypse, and I quite liked that original cast. In a surprise move, Hanrahan takes the focus off of Carillon and onto her cousin, a young woman named Eladora who is featured in the first book but isn't front and center. She is joined as a point-of-view character by a spy who is never given a true name and exists as several people at once, and a prince from a Northern realm that, if its mentioned at all, was not in my memory from The Gutter Prayer. I like the new cast, and Carillon isn't entirely absent from the book, but I really liked those misfits from the first story. They would be hard to top in this context, and I actually admire Hanrahan's willingness to move out of his comfort zone. Even if I may not have liked them as much, there is no doubt that these are fully fleshed out characters who probably adapt and change more than did those in the first book (Spar might be the exception). Eladora changes dramatically in The Shadow Saint, and I think her evolution is remarkably well done.WeaknessesWhere The Gutter Prayer is a nigh on neck-breakingly paced book, The Shadow Saint slows things down, and this probably more than anything is what dimmed it for me. As I said in my introduction, the middle portion of a trilogy almost has to be this way because it acts as a bridge between its bookends. However, what The Shadow Saint does at times is get so bogged down with its politics that I found myself struggling to read it. This may work for some, and I think Hanrahan's political writing is well done, I just didn't enjoy reading about it much in the same way that I don't enjoy reading about politics in a newspaper. This is not to say that I don't enjoy politics because I am as political as anyone who lives in a society, but the methods of conveying those politics can often bore me. For me, The Shadow Saint was at its best when it was dealing with its deities, which happens more at the beginning and end of the book than anywhere in between.The Shadow Saint also suffers in its middle book syndrome by leaving dangling threads - plot lines that aren't satisfactorily explored or concluded. I wanted more with Carillon, for instance, who does not seem as though she is finished with Guerdon or this story. I expect I will have to wait a year or more to see if my wishes for this series are fulfilled by a third book that has a lot of baggage to successfully carry.Parting ThoughtsI liked The Gutter Prayer more than I liked The Shadow Saint, but that's like saying I like a nice red ale more than a stout - they are both beer and I love them. I think Hanrahan is here to stay as one of the premier fantasy authors of this decade (assuming we are all around to see the rest of it). It would have been a simple and tragic thing to fumble the second book after such a strong debut, but he kept hold and delivered, and I am 100% here for the conclusion of The Black Iron Legacy. I hope some of these characters live to see the end of it - a wish I also hold for all of us readers. Stay safe!
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  • daisy
    January 1, 1970
    CAWPILE rating: 9.14/10STAR rating: ★★★★★Well, that was a rollercoaster ride!The Shadow Saint was one of my most anticipated releases of the year and it did not disappoint. The Black Iron Legacy is one of my favourite series now and I can't believe I'm going to have to wait until January 2021 to see what happens next.Longer RTC!
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  • Jeremy Szal
    January 1, 1970
    I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Phenomenal in every way. It took a little work to adjust to the change in structure and deluge of new characters, but the uber weirdness and work of unfiltered imagination is pushed to its absolute limit here, and then some. This is a very dense but rewarding book, and while it's effortless to read, you won't get much out of Guerdon unless you're paying close attention to the writhing secrets that infest every cubic metre of I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Phenomenal in every way. It took a little work to adjust to the change in structure and deluge of new characters, but the uber weirdness and work of unfiltered imagination is pushed to its absolute limit here, and then some. This is a very dense but rewarding book, and while it's effortless to read, you won't get much out of Guerdon unless you're paying close attention to the writhing secrets that infest every cubic metre of this bizarre and delightfully insane world.
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  • ijeoma Agbaje
    January 1, 1970
    Second books are where good series go to die.Whereas The Gutter Prayer hits the ground running, The Shadow Saint struggled to find it's voice and direction.🖤One of the biggest problems i had with this book was the repetition. Honestly maybe putting a recap at the start of this book could have helped. As it is, every opportunity that presented itself to remind readers of something that happened in book 1 was taken and it was tiring.🖤🖤The political scheming was weak. Look, if we were going down Second books are where good series go to die.Whereas The Gutter Prayer hits the ground running, The Shadow Saint struggled to find it's voice and direction.🖤One of the biggest problems i had with this book was the repetition. Honestly maybe putting a recap at the start of this book could have helped. As it is, every opportunity that presented itself to remind readers of something that happened in book 1 was taken and it was tiring.🖤🖤The political scheming was weak. Look, if we were going down the political route eventually and Haith was going to be introduced & play a major role in this series with all these shenanigans, we really should have gotten more than a passing mention of Haith in book 1. We're supposed to care about Haith trying to run rings around Guerdon now because what? Where are the Black Iron gods? Where are the gods?Basically everything that made Gutter Prayer impressive, is scraped in favour of all these political machinations that if we're being honest, would get more of a "why are we going down this route" than an "i'm impressed" thought.🖤🖤🖤Hanrahan brings Guerdon, the city, the home, to the fore front of things in this book. So unlike the last book where you're rooting for Cari and Spar, you're basically rooting for Guerdon in this book and i have to say, the connection just wasn't there. And it's not like book 1 wasn't a fight for Guerdon when all was said and done, but it was done with such finesse that you were able to appreciate it at the end. Here the characters', the plot, basically everything, is unable to convey the sense of urgency that everything was about to go belly up.All in all, just not a worthy sequel for me.
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  • GrilledCheeseSamurai (Scott)
    January 1, 1970
    I loved Gutter Prayer. I found it wholly engaging and really enjoyed the characters and the world.This one...not so much. It was a chore for me to get through. I ended up skimming a lot...I didn't wanna DNF it but at the same time, it felt more like work than enjoyment to get through. None of the characters appealed to me, nor did their circumstances. I just couldn't connect no matter how badly I wished that I could. I'd like to rate this 2.5 stars but Goodreads won't let me. I feel guilty for I loved Gutter Prayer. I found it wholly engaging and really enjoyed the characters and the world.This one...not so much. It was a chore for me to get through. I ended up skimming a lot...I didn't wanna DNF it but at the same time, it felt more like work than enjoyment to get through. None of the characters appealed to me, nor did their circumstances. I just couldn't connect no matter how badly I wished that I could. I'd like to rate this 2.5 stars but Goodreads won't let me. I feel guilty for giving it only 2...but I just can't justify handing it a 3.I doubt I will read the 3rd book. I'll just hold Gutter Prayer as a 1 and done for me and hope that the author writes something down the line (after this series is done) that resonates with me more.It's getting good reviews though, so I think this is just a case of me not connecting with the story rather than it being a bad book. I mean...I reeeeally liked Gutter Prayer...and the author did a bang-up job with it. Unfortunately, I just couldn't get on board with his vision for this one.So, it's a 'me thing.' If you enjoyed the first book don't let me dissuade you in trying this one. Odds are you will be missing out on something you enjoy.
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  • Unseen Library
    January 1, 1970
    The first novel that I am looking at in this week's Waiting on Wednesday is The Shadow Saint. The Shadow Saint is the second book in The Black Iron Legacy and follows through from Gareth Ryder-Hanrahans debut novel from earlier this year, The Gutter Prayer. The Gutter Prayer was an excellent piece of grimdark fantasy that followed the adventures of several of the disparate and desperate criminal inhabitants of the city of Guerdon as they become involved with a dark plot to unleash the citys The first novel that I am looking at in this week's Waiting on Wednesday is The Shadow Saint. The Shadow Saint is the second book in The Black Iron Legacy and follows through from Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan’s debut novel from earlier this year, The Gutter Prayer. The Gutter Prayer was an excellent piece of grimdark fantasy that followed the adventures of several of the disparate and desperate criminal inhabitants of the city of Guerdon as they become involved with a dark plot to unleash the city’s ancient and cruel gods. I had a lot of fun reading The Gutter Prayer, and I was really impressed by the thrilling and complex plot, the unique fantasy elements and the great characters. As a result, I am eager to check out the next book in The Black Iron Legacy. The Shadow Saint is set to be released in early January, and I am already excited by the plot synopsis that has been released.I really like the sound of this plot synopsis, and it looks like this book is set to be a pretty epic sequel to The Gutter Prayer. I am really interested in seeing how the city of Guerdon has evolved since the dramatic and destructive events of the first book, especially if it has potentially gotten even wilder and more dangerous. I am also excited about the mentions of the godswar in this synopsis and I look forward to seeing it explored in more detail in this sequel. The godswar was a major part of The Gutter Prayer’s background plot, as Guerdon was supplying a number of weapons to both sides of the conflict, while trying to maintain their neutrality. It looks like they are going to start getting dragged into this war during this book, and I am sure this is going to result in more battles, intrigue and potentially more unique fantasy elements from outside of the city. All of this is sure to equal a great new book, and I am sure that Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan is going to blow us away once again.This book has a lot of potential, especially after the author knocked it out of the park with the first entry in his series. I have extremely high expectations for The Shadow Saint and I full expect that this amazing upcoming novel is going to be one of the best fantasy books of 2020.For other exciting reviews and content, check out my blog at:https://unseenlibrary.com/
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  • Nadine
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 StarsThe Shadow Saint picks up a few months after the events of The Gutter Prayer as the city of Guerdon gets back on track.The Shadow Saint opens up the world where The Gutter Prayer did not while introducing two new characters that take centre stage. Where The Gutter Prayer focused almost solely on the city of Guerdon, The Shadow Saint introduces many different countries with their own cultures and beliefs. Despite this incredible world building, it feels shoehorned in, as theres little to 3.5 StarsThe Shadow Saint picks up a few months after the events of The Gutter Prayer as the city of Guerdon gets back on track.The Shadow Saint opens up the world where The Gutter Prayer did not while introducing two new characters that take centre stage. Where The Gutter Prayer focused almost solely on the city of Guerdon, The Shadow Saint introduces many different countries with their own cultures and beliefs. Despite this incredible world building, it feels shoehorned in, as there’s little to no set up for it in the previous novel.With the introduction of new characters, I was disappointed that the cast of characters from the previous novel were not the focal point in the sequel. I was especially disappointed about Cari’s lack of screen time. What happened to her at the end of The Gutter Prayer and where and what she’s doing in The Shadow Saint was incredibly interesting. Every time we got to spend a little time with her, it was never enough making the next chapter a slog to read. The Shadow Saint features a lot more politics. These moments are interesting and slow in the best ways. Readers get to simmer in the political machinations of the city. However, these moments are seen through the eyes of Eladora who is far from my favourite character.As previously mentioned, The Shadow Saint expands on the world building exponentially by introducing dragons and kraken. Unfortunately, it feels out of place. I won’t say more because of spoilers.Finally, The Shadow Saint almost feels like a rethread of the previous novel: something happens to the city, they overcome it; the city goes back to rebuilding itself. In terms of plot movement, we’re almost at the same place as at the end of The Gutter Prayer.Will I be reading the third novel? Right now, I’m not sure. I really like the concept of this world, but The Shadow Saint brought the story in a completely different direction that I didn’t always appreciate while reading.
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  • Paul
    January 1, 1970
    Hanrahan shifts the perspective to several new characters and a couple old ones. First and foremost is Eladora who is now Kelkins assistant and in charge of, among other things, gaining allegiance to the cause from the occupants of the New City. And then theres The Spy. A character that keeps you on your toes for every word of every page. A chameleon of personalities and allegiances in order to attain his goal, his chess-like moves keep him several steps ahead. (And those fav characters from The Hanrahan shifts the perspective to several new characters and a couple old ones. First and foremost is Eladora who is now Kelkin’s assistant and in charge of, among other things, gaining allegiance to the cause from the occupants of the New City. And then there’s The Spy. A character that keeps you on your toes for every word of every page. A chameleon of personalities and allegiances in order to attain his goal, his chess-like moves keep him several steps ahead. (And those fav characters from The Gutter Prayer: you will meet again.)A couple tips in getting into this sequel:1. I would definitely recommend reading Hanrahan’s Gutter Prayer Refresher from his website. Even though I read it just a couple months back, I needed to review some of the characters and back story.2. Be prepared for a pretty dense read. This is not a criticism. I felt like it took a little extra effort to keep up with the various threads in the Shadow Saint.3. Hanrahan’s writing is as immersive and particular as in the first book. Each page is a trip of metaphor and detail that takes the reader into his city.4. A widening of the world. A spreading of the political scene. Hold on and open your mind. You will not regret it.Highly Recommended!For my full review: https://paulspicks.blog/2019/12/29/th...For all my reviews: https://paulspicks.blog
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  • Damien Kelly
    January 1, 1970
    An ARC of The Shadow Saint was provided by Orbit in return for an honest review.This is an extraordinary second act in The Black Iron Legacy, with the Godswar crashing down on a transformed Guerdon with an absolute fury. The post-Crisis/Gutter Miracle city is spun askew from the one we saw in Gutter Prayer, and Hanrahan captures this pivot by shifting his POV characters around, expanding the role of Eladora from book one and bringing in other new central characters; chief amongst them the An ARC of The Shadow Saint was provided by Orbit in return for an honest review.This is an extraordinary second act in The Black Iron Legacy, with the Godswar crashing down on a transformed Guerdon with an absolute fury. The post-Crisis/Gutter Miracle city is spun askew from the one we saw in Gutter Prayer, and Hanrahan captures this pivot by shifting his POV characters around, expanding the role of Eladora from book one and bringing in other new central characters; chief amongst them the chameleon-like and mesmeric Spy. The Spy, in a variety of guises and personas, is not just an unreliable narrator, rather he manifests the shifting truths of the war and the warring factions as they hunt for a weapon rumoured to be hidden in the reshaped city. He’s a challenging character, but the payoff for letting him lead you is fantastic. The heroes of the first book do make welcome returns as well, but the wider world benefits from the wider perspectives of the new cast. The writing is truly visceral - the war is strewn with miraculous refugees, stuck in impossible spaces- and the pace always perfectly measured, right up to the breathtaking finale. And the twists are well-timed and genuinely satisfying. Hanrahan’s voice is unique and his world really couldn’t be richer. A welcome gear shift from a recent glut of grimdark, this has more than a pinch of Taika Waititi’s Thor in its soul, but loses none of its terrible impact for it.I absolutely loved this book and I’m really looking forward to the third instalment.
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  • Judith Moore
    January 1, 1970
    Originally posted at Chain InteractionI definitely recommend reading The Gutter Prayer before you embark on reading this book, theres a little bit of explanation as to what is happening but you are certainly thrown in the fire (as it were). I definitely think youll have a better reading experience if you have a working knowledge of the events of book one.That being said, this book while it takes place just after the end of book one does not have the feel of a direct sequel. Where The Gutter Originally posted at Chain InteractionI definitely recommend reading The Gutter Prayer before you embark on reading this book, there’s a little bit of explanation as to what is happening but you are certainly thrown in the fire (as it were). I definitely think you’ll have a better reading experience if you have a working knowledge of the events of book one.That being said, this book – while it takes place just after the end of book one – does not have the feel of a direct sequel. Where The Gutter Prayer followed the story of Cari, Rat and Spar, this book focusses on three different characters. One of these characters will be familiar to readers of book one, Eladora is now working for one of the candidates for government and much of the book follows her life. In addition to that, we get a noble and a spy. I thought that this made for a nice mix of continuity and fresh content, along with more familiar faces that pop up throughout the book. While this doesn’t feel like a sequel, it gives you a broadening perspective of this world, which is what I think a sequel ought to do.One of the things I adored about the first book in this series was the worldbuilding. I was captivated by the gruesome idea of the Tallowmen and the ghouls living under the city. I did feel as though this book didn’t quite hit as hard as the first book did, there is a lot more politics (unsurprisingly) and everything felt a tad more human and less fantastical. That’s not to say that the politics and intrigue aren’t interesting and powerful – I just missed some of the things that got me hooked initially.The plot of this book is quite sprawling (at least in my opinion) and you definitely need to keep focused if you’re going to remember who is who and what everyone is trying to do. I enjoyed the fact that events varied from huge apocalyptic moments to tiny personal disagreements. A lot of books that tackle war with Gods things feel huge all the time, I liked that this book explored some of the smaller problems, the idea of people trying to get on with things despite everything exploding (metaphorically and literally) all around them.Overall, I think this is a series worth reading, I’m hugely excited about the next book(s) in this series where hopefully more of those spooky elements will feature alongside the politics and intrigue!My rating: 4/5 starsI received a free copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
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  • Lynn Williams
    January 1, 1970
    https://lynns-books.com/2020/01/13/th...The Shadow Saint is a solid instalment in the Black Iron Legacy series. No suffering from the dreaded middle book syndrome to be found amongst these pages, and although this was a read that took a little time to fully grab my attention it really is another very impressive book.Firstly, I would point out that as this is a review for the second book in a series you might want to be aware that potential spoilers may be lurking, I do try to avoid these but https://lynns-books.com/2020/01/13/th...The Shadow Saint is a solid instalment in the Black Iron Legacy series. No suffering from the dreaded ‘middle book syndrome’ to be found amongst these pages, and although this was a read that took a little time to fully grab my attention it really is another very impressive book.Firstly, I would point out that as this is a review for the second book in a series you might want to be aware that potential spoilers may be lurking, I do try to avoid these but sometimes they’re determined to break out regardless of my intentions. Also, without doubt, if you’re planning on picking up Shadow Saint you need to have read Gutter Prayer first. This book is quite different in a couple of ways from the first book. The main characters are mostly new although some of the previous cast do make appearances, and although there was plenty of world building in the first book, given the ending, it feels like we’re learning about the place all over again. Conversely, given those two elements, you would think you’d be able to pick this one up as a standalone but I would strongly advise against doing so.What both books have in common is a need to read at a pace that allows thought and reflection. There is no blasting through these pages just as there wasn’t with the first book. This is, dare I say, a convoluted read. Guerdon is in the throes of political upheaval and there is much posturing and party political hobnobbing not to mention the potential threat of war increases the tension dramatically. In fairness I wasn’t really a fan of all the campaigning and matters of state and this aspect of the story, coupled with the new characters slowed me down quite a bit at first until I became more involved in the story and started to understand what was really happening.Similar to my review of Gutter Prayer, I’m not going to elaborate on the plot. There will be plenty of other descriptions out there not to mention the cover blurb and given the covert nature of a lot of the story I’d sooner not go there.In terms of the characters this time we have two new faces, a spy with many identifies and a Haith noble who seems to be somewhat disgraced in the eyes of his family. We also follow Eladora who appeared in the first book and is Cari’s cousin. All of them are easy to read about and feel fully fleshed out but I admit it took me a while to really get on board with them and that’s probably my own fault. I think I naturally assumed, or wanted, more of the old faces from The Gutter Prayer and so these changes at first made me feel a little resentful and I had to get over that before I could really start to care about the fates of any of them. Cari was my favourite and that’s probably because I enjoyed where her story led to in more ways than the other two.Once again the writing is just excellent and the imagination is, frankly, superb. I really enjoyed the elements of the story surrounding Cari and the creative ways that she managed to elude capture and traverse the city. It’s really difficult to say anything more about that aspect because it would involve spoilers but I really loved it whenever she made an appearance.In terms of criticisms. Well, as already mentioned, this certainly isn’t a fast paced read. There are political machinations and lots of double dealing and back stabbing and, as with any story with more twists and turns than a busted corkscrew, it can sometimes feel like walking up a sand dune or trying to run in water but, at the same time, I have to say, stick with it. I think my own impatience got the better of me at times but that’s an ‘it’s me not you’ thing really. Sometimes you just need to slow down and enjoy the book, stop worrying about deadlines and the like and let yourself become fully immersed. It may have taken me a while but I eventually got there.In conclusion, I probably didn’t love Shadow Saint as much as Gutter Prayer but it was still, without doubt, a very good read with some fantastic elements that I absolutely loved. I wasn’t as keen on the politics of the piece but the dark undertones, the tension and the world building were really good.I received a copy through Netgalley courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks. The above is my own opinion.
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