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Encyclopedia > Jack of Shadows

Written by Roger Zelazny and published in 1971, Jack of Shadows is a work of science fiction.


The novel is set in a world whose rotational period is equal to its revolutionary period. Thus one side of the planet is always in light, and the other in darkness. Science rules on the dayside, while magic holds sway in the night.

Shadowjack, the main character, is unique among the magical beings in that he draws his power not from a physical location but from shadow itself. He is nearly incapacitated in complete light or complete darkness, but given access to even a small area of shadow, his potency is unmatched.

The plot consists of multiple threads interacting on multiple levels, as is common in Zelazny's writing. One theme is Jack's own development. He begins as a soulless demon ("Jack of Evil"), bent upon conquering his enemies and taking all he wants. As he faces various challenges, we witness a conscience and deep maturity begin to emerge. Jack's only friend, the creature Morningstar, is trapped in stone at the edge of the night; his torso and head protrude from the rock, and he awaits the sun that will never rise.

Jack also seeks the Key That Was Lost, Kolwynia. The Key itself and the consequences of its use parallel Jack's progress in his own endeavors. Ultimately, the Key will be responsible for Jack's salvation and his doom.

A new story, "Shadowjack", clearly a prequel to the novel, appears in The Illustrated Roger Zelazny with illustrations by Gray Morrow.


A song, Jack of Shadows, based on the novel and written by Dave Brock, Robert Calvert, Simon King and Simon House, appears on the 1979 Hawkwind album PXR5.

  Results from FactBites:
Shadow - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (678 words)
A shadow cast by the Earth on the Moon is a lunar eclipse.
The term shadow is also used with regard to other things than light, for example rain: a rain shadow is a dry area, which, with respect to the prevailing wind direction, is beyond a mountain range; it is dry because air masses lose part of their water when they move over these mountains.
Shadows, mainly in this genre, are said to be the departed souls of people that have had their lives tragically cut short or did not receive acceptance in heaven or hell.
  More results at FactBites »



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