read online Jack of ShadowsAuthor Roger Zelazny –

I got it into my head that this was a dying earth style of book, in either homage to or imitation of Jack Vance, and found myself at odds with the style of writing and the way the story plays out The finelypolished writing is minimalist in comparison, and while the darksiders live in a sort of civilized rivalry of false or real politeness, their language and interactions don't have the same sense of play or ornateness I missed Vance's embellishment, and found that while there were moments of real effectivenessJack imprisoned and dealing with the Lord of Bats, and Jack journeying the strangely populous underworld to the Forbidden Planetstyle Great Machine at the center of it allit simply didn't leap off the page.Where it lost its charm was the lightside, which by design or default is modeled after the 1960s, with references to punch cards, cigarettes, automobiles, and computer time as though using a centralized timeshare system Its sheer mundanity may be styled as a contrast to the mythical/legendary darkside, but I could not bridge the gap between the picture in my head and the supposed futuretechnology force fields that protect lightside from the unrelenting sun. 2Aug2016 currently rereading with the Scifi and Heroic Fantasy group here: was one of the first Zelazny books I read it's still fantastic The characters aren't complex, but I think this is done on purpose The only ones that much time is spent on are Dark Siders who have no soul They're very uncomplicated, driven simply by desire, pride, power Jack personifies most his thoughts are well documented I thought his lame attempts at introspection were great The few glimpses we get of those with souls are normal, complicated people The last half was grim ugly, but hardly pointless, as Del Rey said There were a couple of well setup up made points The ending was fantastic.7Dec09 A very interesting fantasy/SF story Jack, the hero, is an amoral, immortal whose selfinterest leads further further into an interesting quest that ultimately changes the world (MacBeth) Zelazny blends fantasy with SF until you're not quite sure which label applies The story is told in his wonderfully concise style that makes rereads a pleasure while the story haunts you in odd moments Highly recommended. The Earth no longer rotates Science rules the dayside of the globe Magic rules the World of Night, and Jack of Shadows, Shadowjack the Thief, who broke the Compact and duped the Lord of High Dudgeon, walks in silence and in shadows to seek vengeance upon his enemies Time to teread some Roger Zelazny stuff Though I reread the Amber series periodically, I've been very lax about revisiting the other stuff of this toptier fantastic author! 😯Post Reread: I remember reading this AGES ago, and I was just disappointed that it wasn't Amber In retrospect, as an older, wiser (andwellread) person, I find that to be a narrow opinion.Yes, this book is definitely not Amber, but maybe that's for the best We are spoiled with epic new fantasy now, but this classic nonetheless remains a taut, compelling read still And, for a standalone book, there's quite a fair bit if depth to the setting (Though that always was Zelaznys strong suit, IMO.)In short, not Amber, for better or worse But it's still a hidden gem that deservesattention than it gets. 3 StarsI'm not sure about this one The story was great and the combination of fantasy elements with science fiction felt new and different But i had a problem with the storytelling The story jumped around quite a lot and sometimes I had to read a few pages of the chapter to even start to understand what was currently happening That and the writing style (which was just not for me) made me not really care for the characters because I couldn't really immerse myself into the story The plot had some amazing moments, and also some slower parts but the story itself was quite unique and well crafted. A hard to find novel, but worth it if you can track it down My copy fell apart long ago, and should I find a new one I'll grab it.In a world frozen with a dark side and a light side (science predominates on the light side magic on the dark) one man functions in both worldsThe dark side of this world is ruled or dominated by magic while the light side is dominated by science and technology The magic beings on the dark side are usually limited as the their power emanates from a location Jack on the other hand is different His power emanates or is drawn from shadow While he is almost powerless in full light or full darkness access to any shadow makes him tremendously powerful Due to his power he can function on both the dark magical side of the planet and the scientific light side.As noted I like the book Some may find it a bit frustrating, though to say why may constitute a sort of spoiler I do recommend it as it's a well written if short book. Jack of Shadows, or Shadowjack, is a wizard and rogue, the best thief of his age His world doesn't rotate Instead, the light side is ruled by science and the dark side by magic Daysiders have souls, Darksiders are eternally reborn in the Dung Pits of Glyve Jack gets decapitated in the opening chapter and seeks revenge upon waking in the aforementioned Dung Pits On the way to his goal, he gets imprisioned by an old enemy, spends time as a professor at a university on the Dayside, and finds Kolwria, the Key That Was Lost Once he gets his revenge, a whole slew of other issues pop up.I found Jack of Shadows to be a very original work Not a trace of the usual fantasy cliches Philosophical questions like what it means to have a soul are raised Jack reminded me of a magical version of the Rowan Atkinson Blackadder character The ending is open for the reader to interpret. I read plenty of Zelazny when I was younger In fact I have probably read most of his work The one novel that eluded me for a long time was Jack of Shadows This was doubly frustrating because I had heard it was his best book Time passed and my enthusiasm for science fiction and fantasy began to wane somewhat I haven't read any Zelazny for quite a while, but I always knew that if I ever managed to get hold of Jack of Shadows I would be eager to read it.Finally last year I saw a second hand copy in a bookstore and bought it Now I have read it What do I think? It is very good indeed, and yes it is one of his best (maybe not quite the best of all) One of the amazing things about it is the coherent velocity of the action The plot moves very fast and Zelazny throws in all sorts of twists and turns, yet the progression of the story doesn't feel as contrived as maybe it should Zelazny's control is exquisite.Perhaps the greatest thing about this novel is the setup of the world depicted It is complex and original with plenty of potential for all the different elements to clash, combine and produce results that are difficult for the reader to predict A nonrotating world held in stasis by a machine (or by fire elementals) and one that is prevented from freezing on one side and burning on the other by a cosmic shield that must be maintained with difficulty The inhabitants of the dark side use magic; those of the light side use science They are equal but opposite There is also a twilight realm with people and cities It is possible for one to be half darksider and half daysider.Jack of Shadows is a darksider but with a difference Whereas most powerful darkside magicians are rooted in a place of power, in a particular location, Jack's power is contained in shadows any shadows cast anywhere and it is therefore mobile He is thus free to wander, and in the grand tradition of the footloose wanderer he becomes a rogue, a masterful thief, but one with greater aspirations than normal Indeed he has schemes that will change the societies of both sides forever.There is no need to sayHis journeys and the eccentric characters he meets and monsters he fights are remarkable This novel was a delight to read Of all the Zelazny novels I have read, only Creatures of Light and Darkness has pleased me(a very lyrical novel that isn't the favourite of most readers, but which I adore). Roger Zelazny…One of the Grandest Masters of Science Fantasy has yet to disappoint me and Jack of Shadows is no exception Along with Jack Vance (to whom this book was an homage), there is no author better at stuffing story into less than 200 pages This GEMtastic example weighs in a svelte 142 pages and contains a full serving of juicy plot with zero filler fat Jack of Shadows takes place on a world that does not rotate and so half of the planet is always sun side and the other half of the planet is perpetual night The sun side is similar to our world and is governed by science and natural law The night side is a place of magic where supernatural entities reign supreme In addition, and important to the story, daysiders have souls and only one life, whereas nightsiders are soulless and can be resurrected numerous times (though a finite number) Our title character is a thief, powerful wizard and a lord of the nightside though, even among his brethren, Jack is unusual Most of the nightside lords have places of power where they are at the strongest (i.e their realms which are like feudal estates) Jack has no one place of power but is strongest wherever he can create shadows Inside shadow he has unmatched strength At the beginning of the story, Jack is apprehended as a thief and decapitated by one of this rivals (OUCH!!) Years later (as resurrection is not immediate), Jack awakens in the Dung Pits of Glyve at the West Pole of the world and begins his quest for revenge against those who killed him However, this is NOT a simple revenge piece set in an interesting SF world Jack quest for revenge becomes the catalyst for events that will shake the foundations of the planet and lead either to a brand new world ….or the destruction of everything I am not going to give away any spoilers so will just say that I “LOVED” the ending It has an aspect to it that is left purposely ambiguous and I think adds to the mystery of the work With one critical exception, this story has a very “Dying Earth” feel to it, which is intentional as Zelazny wrote this story as a tribute to Vance For example, Jack of the Shadows, like Cugel the Clever and other Dying Earth rogues, is a thief and a magician Like Cugel’s adventures, this story involves an extended journey in which Jack encounters the strange wonders of the world and the many interesting characters living in it The one critical exception is that this is a dark, serious tale and the lighthearted whimsy that Jack brought to his “Dying Earth” stories is distinctly absent By absent, I don’t want to imply that this is a bad thing, but I wanted to make sure you didn’t pick this up looking for a bag of feel good Jack is REALLY not a nice person He does very bad things during the course of this book, some of them down right despicable He's selfish, lonely, angry, filled with bitterness and shows zero compassion for those who have wronged him Despite that, Zelazny makes you understand Jack and provides not only a reason for his behavior, but also a very interesting moment of “redemption” at the end of the story The redemption isn’t perfect, it’s messy and far from clear cut…but so is life and I was impressed with how Zelazny handled it Again…all this in 142 pages As I have said before about Vance’s work, Zelazny's talent for providing a rich background and interesting characters with and economy of words is something special and a sign of true mastery over prose craft He does this in a variety of ways One of them is to take a pivotal event that will occur over a significant period of time and lay it out in such a way that the impact is immediate and yet the power of the event is not diminished Here is an example: ‘So be it,’ he said ‘Yet all that have described to you will come to pass, and you will be with me to witness it.’‘No I will have taken my life long before.’‘I will bend your will, and you will love me.’‘You will never touch me, body or will.’‘You will sleep now,’ he said, ‘and when you awaken we will be coupled You will struggle briefly and you will yield to me—first your body, then your will You will lie passive for a time, then I will come to you again and yet again After that, it will be you who come to me Now you will sleep while I sacrifice [] upon his Lord’s altar and cleanse this place of all things which displease me Dream well A new life awaits you.’And he departed, and these things were done as he had said In a paragraph, Zelazny provides a chilling account of the brutal subjugation, rape and brain washing of one character by another Often, dark and dire situations in stories can be gratuitously dragged out FOREVER or else you will find characters fearing promised torments that never come to pass as event intervene to save the characters Here, in 9 words (“and these things were done as he had said”), Zelazny both makes real the promised horror and closes the door on any reprieve While lacking the tension that drawing out the process might bring, he injects a powerful image into the readers mind and then moves on with the story leaving the reader to fill in the cracks and catch up because the next evocative moment could occur (and probably will) in the next paragraph I’m sure there are far better examples out there, but hopefully this helps somewhat in seeing the effective use of economy Zelazny brings to his works I thought this was a terrific story with a wonderful backstory, some memorable characters and an interesting plot Again, loved the ending 4.0 stars HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!Nominee: Hugo Award for Best NovelNominee: Locus Award for Best SF Novel. One of Zelazny's standalones; a dark and finelyfaceted jewel of a book.(Oh, OK, fine The world is fixed; the East Pole points ever towards the sun, and the eastern hemisphere is forever in daylight and ruled by science The West Pole is in eternal darkness, and the Darkside is ruled by magic In between, of course, is a narrow strip of twilight Shadowjack is a thief (the greatest in all of the Darkside? well, certainly, he has an opinion on the subject) who draws power from shadows (as opposed to the other Darkside lords, whose powers are geographically fixed) A potentially routine heist goes badly wrong, leaving Jack to make his way back from the West Pole through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, his mind fixed upon revenge upon those who wronged him, a quest that will take him through the Twilight into the Dayside and back The language is evocative and precise Zelazny freely owns that the book is his tribute to Jack Vance and is his [Zelazny's] attempt to emulate Vance's style Certainly, he comes a whole lot closer than most )