Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement.
The land has been silent of the vicious wyrms since the Nameless One was vanquished centuries ago. The sisters of the Priory train tirelessly to protect the land from a foe that no one living has witnessed, and doubt is starting to creep in whether they’re still needed. Sabran the Ambitious keeps the Berethnet line alive, keeps the Nameless One at bay, there is nothing to worry about. Until the Dreadmount erupts bringing with it the Great Sorrow, or Grief of Ages. The wyrms are back.
Five dark shapes emerged from the mountain and disappeared into the night. Five dark shapes with ten dark wings, flocked by dark moths that screamed the same scream, old as the world.
A Day of Fallen Night is set around 500 years before The Priory of the Orange Tree, covering the last time wyrms tormented the land. Some of it will feel quite familiar, but it also fills in some background to why the Priory ends up assigning a sister to the Queen and what happened in the East.
This brick of a novel was surprisingly fast paced. The first few chapters are awhirl with new characters and history to absorb, but it soon moved past that and I flew through the pages. I had forgotten a lot of the details of The Priory of the Orange Tree, and I was a bit distracted by wondering if there were things I should know already, but I think it is best approached as a standalone.
Glorian is next in line to the throne, she will bear a daughter who will continue her blood and keep the Nameless One at bay. But she doesn’t want to be a mother, and bodily autonomy is a big theme in this book. She does her duty, but it is not portrayed as glorious. It is grubby and shameful that such a young woman be treated this way. She is bounded by a great responsibility, because their family truly believe it is their blood that keeps the world safe.
I did find that some of the storylines were easy to predict, perhaps this was my forgotten knowledge seeping through my memory. There are plenty of foreshadows dropped in, and knowing that things must end in a certain way for the events of Priory to happen, feeds into it.
In the South, the Priory also tells a story of motherhood. Tuva is a sister who grieves for the child she lost and loves her partner’s child in response, beyond what is acceptable by their vows to the Priory. And younger generations no longer understand the need for their life of secrecy, triggering a sequence of events that brings all our characters together.
Water must always quench fire in the end.
The story from the East was a bit more mysterious, reflecting their isolated nature in the books. Their dragons, who share an affinity with water rather than fire, have been asleep for centuries. Dumai is a Godsinger who has spent her life in a temple high in the mountains, while the gods remain absent. But her mother has hidden a secret from her that is about to turn her life upside down. I loved the life on the mountain and the additional lore woven into the universe.
In the North we get to meet Wulf, one of many who have had to convert from a more Pagan belief to Virtudom. His story is a sad one, he always seems to be the survivor but what does it mean to be the one left standing when all around you is loss. His survival against all odds comes with whispers and suspicion.
It is wise to give the people joy when the world offers them gloom and lack.
The red sickness that was mentioned in the Priory plays a bigger part in the story too, and I feel we are starting to see the pandemic shape our stories, as we have learned to live through it rather than merely imagine it.
A Day of Fallen Night is published by Bloomsbury and will be available in hardback, ebook and audiobook editions from 28th February 2023. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review via NetGalley.
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