Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Beautiful Prose

From an award wining New Zealand poet.

THE HEIR OF NIGHT
Wall of Night Book 1
By Helen Lowe 
Buy it

The violence of an age-old war casts a long shadow. It falls on a world where mercy is weakness and conflict is a way of life. Young Malian is being trained to rule. Her people garrison the mountain range known as the Wall of Night against an ancient enemy, keeping a tide of shadow from the rest of their world. Malian is expected to uphold this tradition, yet she's known little of real danger until the enemy launches a direct attack upon her fortress home. In the darkest part of the night, the Keep of Winds becomes a bloodbath. Women and children, warriors and priests, are slain by creatures with twisted magic flowing in their veins. And as the castle wakes to chaos, Malian flees deep into the Old Keep, her life at stake. Then when the danger is greatest, her own hidden magic flares into life. But this untapped potential is a two-edged blade. If she accepts its power, she must prepare to pay the price. 
Robin Hobb says 'The Heir of Night by Helen Lowe is a richly told tale of strange magic, dark treachery and conflicting loyalties, set in a well realised world’.

And she is quite right, it is. 

It is a beautifully crafted novel, the world is vibrant and so are the characters, although I must admit the characterisation sometimes left me scratching my head. I had a lot of questions as to maturity - in Malian's case - and what seemed to me to be leaps of logic. But this didn't spoil my enjoyment of what promises to be a very exciting new series.

Old wars, lost powers, blood feuds, prophecies and the rising of an ancient evil makes (on paper) a pretty regular book of standard fantasy fare - but I don't care if I have read a similar premise over and over again as long as the writing is good and the author does something different with it. And Lowe's writing is very good and the story is original enough in nuance to be fresh. The one thing i will nit-pick over is the Naming of things, particular creatures and powers and the like. I mean the 'Raptor of Darkness'? I was disappointed that Lowe did create a name in place of a title, she has the chops for it as the rest of her writing shows.

That being said I did read it all the way through to the end, and I will pick up the next book to see how things progress. There were some wonderfully rendered scenes, especially as Malian is trying to escape those who hunt her in underbelly of the Keep, and good use of pacing and some very interesting worldbuilding from a very talent new voice in the Epic fantasy field.



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