epinions.com | 17 August 2006 | "Freak"
You're One Step Closer To Knowing The Identity of "The Lord of The Shadows"...Author's Product Rating Product Rating: 5.0Pros Some very interesting plot twists, the realization of the true Lord of The Shadows.Cons Too much back tracking and recapping from previous books.The Bottom Line "The world is set to produce a monster of unimaginable power and fury. His coming is unavoidable. Only his identity is yet to be determined...and that will be decided shortly"Full ReviewThe Cirque Du Freak series by Darren Shan completely took my by surprise; someone sent me a copy of one of the books from the beginning of the series and even though it is listed as teen fiction, it is an incredible story. My cell phone started beeping letting me know I'd received a text message; nothing out of the ordinary about that. When I checked the message it said, "Lord of Shadows came in", it was from a friend of mine that works at the library. Normally if I am into a series I'll just buy the books so I can read them when ever I want ... but the Shan books are different. All the local bookstores that claimed to have them in stock were sold out and if I ordered one online it would be at least two weeks before it would ship. I put my name on the reserve list at the library for :"Lord of The Shadows" as soon as it was entered [I'm talking a month and a half ago] but it said that the release date wasn't until mid June so when I got the text message I assumed who ever entered the books got the title wrong ... there was no way that a public library would get it in before a bookstore..... So how come I have the copy of "Lord of The Shadows" sitting next to me ... I'll have to chalk it up to fate. I've been flipping through the pages here and there but I wanted to see how long it would take me to get through all 220 pages. It's 4:20 right now [no snickering] so let's see how long it does take me to get through this.8:43. A little over four hours ... I would have been done about an hour earlier but I had to take a break and whip up some dinner. So what did I think? Part of me is let down by some of the unnecessary stuff but overall, it shows just how much Shan has put into the entire plot. This isn't something that you sit down and whip out in a couple of hours then 'think up' the next part of the story. It's sort of like building a house, you have to have a rough plan to start with and while you can make some small changes here and there as you go alone, you pretty much know what the end result is gong to be. According to the last page there is only one more book in the Cirque Du Freak saga but I am hoping that he will have a spin off series or something besides Demonata in the works. How does this stack up to the other books? Well, there are a lot of pages that cover past events that were critical to where Darren ended up in this book ... stuff that I felt was unnecessary. This is the eleventh book in the series, who in their right mind is going to buy something that far into the story and expect to be able to understand what is going on. Likewise, it was a little foolish for Shan to spend so much time back tracking and recounting things.The Lord of The ShadowsI have no idea how many people at Epinions have read any of Shan's books in Cirque Du Freak so I'm a little unsure of what all I should mention. Some of the past characters that return in this one include Debbie, R.V., Alice, Vancha, Mr.Tall, Harkat, Gannen and of course Steve [there are more recurring characters but I have to leave out some things to keep you interested]. When the story starts up Harkat and Darren are back with the Cirque Du Freak, recovering from past events and trying to figure out Desmond Tiny's prophecy about the War of The Scars. Mr. Tall pulls Darren aside to show him the map and where the Cirque is headed ... back to his former hometown. He offers Darren an easy out, he can take another path and meet up with them later. When asked for his advice, Tall suggests that it would be better if he didn't return to his hometown but Shan feels the need to 'go home' ... knowing full and well that it may be the last time he will ever be able to.There aren't many new characters introduced but there are some like Darren's former friends Evra Von [from the Cirque] and Tommy Jones [childhood friend] that are critical to the development of this part of the story. You learn a lot more about them and what's happened to them over the years. The same goes for Darren's family. His younger sister had a baby when she was 16, his parents moved away after Darren's "death" and his nephew is ... well ... I am not going to let that cat out of the bag. There are some parts of the book that seem to drag on for pages and some that seem rushed. One thing that really confused me was Darren's sister having a baby ... the next door neighbor spotted Shan in the backyard and asked him what he was doing there. When she was satisfied with his story that he was a cousin she gave him all the scoop. The book doesn't say what Annie does for a living to support herself and her child, if her parents gave her the house or any of the basic things that would make it a little more believable. It seems completely moronic for me to make this statement but I really didn't feel it was necessary to have Annie at the age of sixteen [not married] get pregnant. Shan could have aged the story a few more years or had her married / widowed. This is teen fiction ...and in my opinion that stuff doesn't need to be in teen fiction.The main theme of the book is the confrontation between Shan and Steve; it was uncovered on the last book that he was the leader of the Vampaneze and that either Steve or Shan would move on to carrying the title of the Lord of The Shadows. Shan has to face a lot of truths in this book; his destiny isn't as clear cut as he once thought. He is still coping with the betrayals, deaths and events from Killers of The Dawn and The Lake of Souls. This book doesn't have as much back stabbing in it but more than a few people are killed off and you do finally learn about Mr. Tall and the extent of his powers. Since there is only one book left in the series you really have to wonder how many loose ends Shan is going to be able to tie up before the Cirque comes to a close. A lot of major things have been taken care of in other books but there are more than a few cans of worms opened in this book. Debbie. Annie. Gannen. I have to wonder if it was a wise move for Shan to close things out with "Sons of Destiny".The Bottom LineIn some ways this was a let down for me, I waited a long time between The Lake of Souls and this book and when I got done reading it I was sitting there going, "That's it?". The ending is slightly predictable because of the lead up through most of the book but you have to wonder what is going to happen now that [name removed to avoid spoiling a major part of the book] has seen people's true colors. There are no spoilers at the end of the book so you are going to have to go into reading "Sons of Destiny" blindly. If memory serves me correctly all the other books in Cirque Du Freak had eight to ten page spoilers at the end of the books ... this one doesn't so I have no idea what is going to happen in the next book. There are any number of ways that things could go but from what is foretold in this one ... no matter who becomes the Lord of The Shadows, it doesn't look good for humans. I will add this - if Shan pulls a "... and then I woke up in a pool of sweat and realized it was all a dream..." plot twist I will never read another one of his books. There's this tiny little part of me that thinks that is where he is going to go with this so if that happens ... you read it here first. I mean, it would be an easy way to solve the Lord of The Shadows problem ... he could wake up from the dream and opt to not go to the Cirque Du Freak show where the whole story started. As I said, if that is the route he goes with the ending of the next book I will never read anything from him again.
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