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Shadow Chaser: The Chronicles of Siala #2    by Alexey Pehov order for
Shadow Chaser
by Alexey Pehov
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2011 (2011)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Shadow Chaser follows Shadow Prowler as the second in Alexey Pehov's videogame-paced fantasy epic, The Chronicles of Siala (translated from the Russian by Andrew Bromfield). This is fantasy in the Tolkien style, with twists and variations such as fanged elves. As the series opens, the Nameless One stirs in the Desolate Lands after centuries of calm.

The appealing antihero is young master thief Shadow Harold, trained by Brother For, priest of Sagot, god of thieves. In Shadow Prowler, in the city of Avendoom, Harold was commissioned by canny King Stalkon the Ninth to steal the Rainbow Horn (needed to stop the Nameless One) from the Palaces of Bone in Hrad Spein. He succeeded in acquiring plans of Hrad Spein, though harried by minions of a mysterious Master.

Along the way he picked up archmagician Valder as a mental hitchhiker and was revealed to be the prophesied Dancer in the Shadows. The first episode ended with questers embarking on the journey to Hrad Spein: Harold, Miralissa of the House of the Black Moon escorted by two other elves; ten fighters (Wild Hearts), Count Alistan Markauz (captain of the king's guard), and annoying jester/prankster goblin Kli-Kli.

Shadow Chaser is filled with attacks and betrayals, captures and escapes, as the bantering questors journey towards Hrad Spein. Some fall permanently by the wayside while others reappear. In Ranneng, Harold encounters an old enemy and an old friend. The Key to Hrad Spein (which was carried by Miralissa) is stolen and Harold has prophetic dreams of Lafresa, a powerful servant of the Master.

Harold is frustrated by secrets 'dancing and prancing around me like the shadows from a flaming torch'. He plies his trade (as a thief) to good effect to recover the Key. He and his companions, much reduced in number, make their way to the Borderland and to Zagraba, 'the land where the gods had walked at the dawn of time'. So ends the second entry in what continues to be an exciting fantasy series that's well worth following.

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