The second volume of the epic fantasy saga that began with The Hawk and His Boy takes us back to the story of the thief Jute. The emissaries of the Darkness have infiltrated the city of Hearne in search of him. Desperate to escape, the boy flees the city and heads into the wilderness of the north. But the ghosts of the past have other plans for him and, soon, Jute and his friends must choose between their own deaths or the destruction of the entire land. All the while, the mysterious lady Levoreth races against time in order to discover who is behind the schemes of the Darkness.
The book is divided into two stories, the first is about Jute and the second about Levoreth. In my review for 'The Hawk and his Boy' I couldn't stop gushing about Levoreth and she was my favourite character. 'The Shadow at the Gate' continues her story perfectly and gives us an even better insight into whom she really is. I wish I could say more about her, but I don't want to spoil anything for the readers. I will say that if you liked her in the first book and are a fan of dramatic scenery and events you will really like what Christopher Bunn has done with Levoreth.
I did find myself warming up to 'The Knife' or Ronan. In the first book he was more of a side-character, but Christopher really used this book to explore his character a bit more. And may I say, if you like surprises READ THIS BOOK. I was seriously stunned after I found out who he was. Christopher Bunn used this book to give the reader some more time to get to know the other characters but especially ... to learn about Tormay and its history.
Every good (!) fantasy book should have a background. It doesn't all have to be in the book, but there has to be at least a reference to other countries, cities, important people from the past, to give it the richness that make good fantasy books, like 'The Lord of the Rings' outstanding. Tormay has such a background. You didn't hear as much about it in the first book, but this book takes a lot more time to expand. For example, we visit Severus' wizard school and we learn more about the Anbeorum. Christoper Bunn really created an original story and with his fluent and imaginative writing style he is sure to captivate anyone who likes a good story.
I give this book...
One of the reasons I haven't given this book 5 Universes is because I want to save those for the final book. That might not be a very good reason, but somehow I know it will be the perfect finale to this story. For the rest I think it is pretty obvious that this was a really good story, the perfect continuation from the first book and just great fantasy.
So what are your thoughts?