Ace, Jun 26 2012, $7.99
In Tien, Zhan Aral Kingslayer sits in his office in the Gryphon’s Head Tavern with his best (and only) friend and secret partner Triss the shade in his shadow, musing how far he fell when his Goddess of Justice and the Downtrodden Namara was assassinated. He was a Blade of Namara delivering justice to affluent and impoverished alike. Now he earns a living as a jack of all shadow trades to clients beyond the fringe of society which is a step up from where he was one year ago when he became a Broken Blade with a price on his head.
Two women enter the tavern; one is very tall and muscular while other a lithe dancer. When Cobble Runner Shadow Lieutenant Boguin offers money to do both of them, Triss, acting out of character, insists Aral intervene, which he reluctantly does as he tells the officer they are with him. Stel and Vala order Aral to leave them alone. Almost immediately afterward, a magical assault hammers the Gryphon’s Blade. The four survive though bystanders and assassins do not. Attracted to Vala who reminds him of his former fiancée Jax, Aral and his Shade find themselves in the crosshairs of a battle for an artifact.
The second Fallen Blade fantasy stars an interesting hero with an irreverent, self-deprecating attitude as he no longer has a purpose to live. Ironically, Aral and Triss struggle to help the extremely competent females who come to their aid as often if not more than they do for them. Fans will appreciate the magnificent McCullough mythos as the BFFs learn the mantra the road to Shadowside is paved with good intentions.