Ranked – Novel

Jack of Shadows (1971) by the much celebrated Roger Zelazny has an epic geographic and metaphysical scope but many of my favorite moments occur early in the novel before Jack discovers his world remaking ambitions. His intensely personal journey through The Dung Pits of Glyve is the highlight as Jack’s hunger, exhaustion and hatred direct his actions. These actions provide incredible insight to Jack’s character and rationale to what he’s becoming. At this point the story is much like a classic sword and sorcery tale, blade in hand, challenging mysterious forces, consumed with revenge and pining for his fair maiden. But that arc changes rapidly as Jack’s power increases. He becomes less mortal and more evil incarnate. When Jack is no longer the shadowy thief I fell in love with in the first few chapters, I find myself wishing for his turn back to himself. I find myself wanting at least one full novel of Jack the Thief. Then perhaps a novel of revenge as Jack the Avenger, a storyline which this book flies through. Then Jack the Annihilator with more about Jack’s love for Evene (Latin for “to come to pass”) as the final book of the trilogy. Am I asking too much? Yes. I only get one novel and Jack of Shadows does have a beautiful ending, worth a bit of toil through the chapters of grand darkness. Score: 683