Reviewed by Ami
Title: The Shadow Mark
Author: Mason Thomas
Series: Lords of Davenia #2
Genre: MM High Fantasy
Length: 312 Pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: February 13, 2017
Available at: Amazon and Barnes & Noble
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads
Blurb: Auraq Greystone, once a military officer with a promising future, exists on the fringe of society. Accused of murder, Auraq is on the run from the ax—until two fugitives crash into his solitary life. One is a young man named Kane. The glowing marks on his arm pulse with an otherworldly power, and they have made him the target of a sinister organization called the Order of the Jackal. When the old man protecting Kane dies in an ambush, Auraq swears an oath to take his place.
But the runes are far more significant than they realize. They are a message from the shadow realm, a dark memory of the past—one holding evidence of a bloody massacre and its savage architect; one that will shake the kingdom to its foundation. Risking arrest and execution, Auraq fights to get Kane to the capital city where the cryptic marking can be unlocked. And with assassins close on their trail, Auraq might never get the chance to show Kane what’s in his heart—or the way their journey together has changed him.
The Shadow Mark is an epic tale of magic, murder, conspiracy, betrayal, and—for the two men tasked with unraveling the mystery—love and redemption.
Review: I fell in love with Mason Thomas’ debut novel in 2015, Lord Mouse, and when I saw this being offered for review, I didn’t hesitate to request the review copy. I am not a big high-fantasy reader, but sometimes I find authors whose stories work for me. I believe Mason Thomas is one of them.
The premise of The Shadow Mark is pretty simple. Auraq Greystone, a once military officer now a deserter, is saddled with an oath that he makes to a dying old man. That he will protect the dying man’s protégé, a young man named Kane, who is being chased by assassins due to the strange mark that appears on his forearm. So Auraq goes with Kane to find answers while trying to evade a mysterious order with skilled assassins, as well as supernatural vicious creatures, known as Wolvren.
Overall, I liked it. It offers a good adventure fantasy. Since Auraq knows nothing about the strange mark, he pretty much takes us readers along his journey of discovery. When he gets new knowledge, we know it as well. Although I admit that at times, I also felt that this book went a bit too long. Like I kept waiting for something BIG to happen and it never really did.
I did, however, miss the snark of Lord Mouse. It was one of the most enjoyable elements from Thomas’ debut novel. The Shadow Mark has a more somber tone – probably because of Auraq’s self deprecation due to the events of his past. Auraq is also more guarded by nature – which frustrated me oftentimes since he keeps what he knows from Kane. I understand that Kane is not a soldier nor somebody with fighting skill – but it is his life that is on the line. I would prefer Kane comes to the journey with open eyes rather than just being strung along like a child.
On that note, I also wasn’t convinced with the romance. The book is written from Auraq’s perspective … and somehow I probably understand better why Kane might fall in love with his guardian. But I wasn’t really sure why and how Auraq developed his feeling for Kane. It felt underwhelming for me, sadly.
Taking everything into consideration, I would still like to recommend this if you like high-fantasy adventure books with modest romantic tone and the slowest of slow burn *lol*. Just don’t expect any steam – this book only has 2-3 kisses and that’s it.
Overall Impression: I liked it!
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for a fair and honest review.*