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Last Song Before Night Hardcover – September 29, 2015

4.3 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Gorgeous, finely-wrought fantasy... Luminous writing, well-developed characters, strong world-building, all come together to create a wonderful debut! (Jessica Day George, author of Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow)

In prose both lush and lyrical, Ilana C. Myer presents her stirring opus of singing truth to power. Superbly paced, with vividly drawn characters and a fearless dramatic heart, Last Song Before Night is at once elegiac and triumphant. It's one of the most impressive debut novels I've ever read; I am in awe. (David Mack, New York Times bestselling author of 24: Rogue)

"Beautifully lyrical, Myer's high-fantasy debut weaves a multilayered tale of good versus evil and intimate self-discoveries. The gradual reveal of the main plot and the characters' personal truths builds to a poetic crescendo worthy of their epic quest. With detailed worldbuilding and vivid characters...this lush and luminous story combines exquisite splendor and fathomless cruelty as it champions the power of art and the resilience of the human spirit. While the plot comes full circle, it appears that the adventure is only beginning." - RT Book Reviews

"Myers' depiction of Tamryllin and the land it inhabits is shadowy and lush, a tapestry of gossamer wonders as well as theocratic oppression and brutality. But the core of Last Song's strength is its characters. Bound by enmities, rivalries, lust, sacrifices, and ancient tragedies, the novel's sizeable cast forms a dizzying chemistry...Last Song Before Night is about music, but it's also a work of music itself: Lyrical, dynamic, and winningly melodic." -NPR

"Truly epic...Myer's debut is exactly the kind of fantasy to lure back readers...who want great writing and great storytelling." - The Guardian 

Last Song is an elegantly executed, masterfully conceived tale filled with memorable characters―some base, some noble, all steeped in real human complexity and eminently plausible in their motivations and actions. The wider world of Myer’s fantasy milieu, the lands beyond Eivar, are only hinted at in this first book, which gives the future volumes of this trilogy-to-be room in which to grow and explore new octaves of Myer’s opus.”―David Mack

“In this pitch-perfect debut, Myer has created a world of knife-wielding poets, bloody bards, and songs so important, so dangerous, that women and men are willing to die to sing them or hear them silenced. Myer writes with a music that lingers, even after you close the book for the night.” ―Brian Staveley, author of The Providence of Fire

Last Song Before Night is a chilling tale of censorship out of control, set in a realm where music is magic, and a crackdown on bards may spell the end of enchantment for everyone. Lin, Ilana C. Myer's unforgettable songwriter-heroine, must survive in a society that limits what men can sing and forbids women to perform outright. Despite this, she strives to restore a musical and mystical balance before plague--and worse--can crush an already stifled society. A riveting debut novel from a promising newcomer.” ―A. M. Dellamonica, author of Child of a Hidden Sea

“In the kaleidoscopic Last Song Before Night, Ilana C. Myers' poets, nobles, and rogues fight for power in a world where blades may cut deep, but words are the most powerful weapon of all. A lovely debut.” ―Fran Wilde, author of Updraft

“Beautifully lyrical, Myer's high-fantasy debut weaves a multilayered tale of good versus evil and intimate self-discoveries. The gradual reveal of the main plot and the characters' personal truths builds to a poetic crescendo worthy of their epic quest. With detailed worldbuilding and vivid characters - most notably Lin, the strong female protagonist - this lush and luminous story combines exquisite splendor and fathomless cruelty as it champions the power of art and the resilience of the human spirit. While the plot comes full circle, it appears that the adventure is only beginning.” ―RT Book Reviews

“Myers' depiction of Tamryllin and the land it inhabits is shadowy and lush, a tapestry of gossamer wonders as well as theocratic oppression and brutality. But the core of Last Song's strength is its characters. Bound by enmities, rivalries, lust, sacrifices, and ancient tragedies, the novel's sizeable cast forms a dizzying chemistry. Even when the book dwells on its elaborate, Regency-romance web of seductions and star-crossed suitors ― which Myers weds to her setting with a deft, sure hand ― that game of musical beds has haunting, profound consequences. The villains, with Lin's treacherous, predatory brother Rayen being a particularly juicy example, are painted in broad strokes, but there's plenty of nuance, dimension, and empathy to Myers' timeless myth-spinning." – Jason Heller, NPR.org

“Poetry, music and magic combine into a sumptuous symphony in Last Song Before Night, the debut novel from Ilana C Myer.”―SF Signal

About the Author

ILANA C. MYER has written about books for the Globe and Mail, the Los Angeles Review of Books, the Huffington Post, and Salon. Previously she was a journalist in Jerusalem. Last Song Before Night is her first novel.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books (September 29, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765378302
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765378309
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.4 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #150,861 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Last Song Before Night by Ilana C. Myer is a masterful fantasy story. The plot revolves around bringing lost magic back into the world to counter a supernatural threat — but even more around the fates of the characters, who are so achingly real that the reader has every reason to care about them.

Even before the main conflict is introduced, the story weaves a situation rich in conflict and potential just by introducing the setting and characters. The story starts in the city of Tamryllin in the days before the Midsummer Fair, in which Poets — musicians — compete for the Silver Branch in front of the king and everyone else. A number of characters' fates are deftly tied to this event. But of course there’s a twist. Events take an entirely new turn before even the supposedly pivotal contest. At a ball where the Poets are performing in front of distinguished guests up to the king himself, a surprise performer whose very name causes ripples shows that, magic or no, music can still have a great deal of power, and changes the lives of those present and upsets the political situation with one song.

The beginning of the story is a captivating page-turner of winding threads, set in a fictional city that has its own tangible twilight atmosphere. The pace is steady and eventful, introducing one twist after another, never lagging. However, this is nothing compared to reading the middle for the first time — written with blood from a quickly beating heart, it left me no choice but to read on and on to find out what happened to the characters I already cared so much about, poised on a knife-edge the whole time, not only physically in danger but in spiritual and moral peril as well, with truly everything at stake. This goes on almost to the end and the satisfying conclusion.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I love this book. I want you to know that now, because I am going to discuss the synopsis, and some of what I have to say is about how the synopsis is not adequate in describing the novel. And that's okay. There isn't room for a 1,000 word synopsis on the back of the book.

The synopsis to this novel is a little bit misleading, but generally accurate. (That line's a publisher blurb for a book jacket if I've ever seen one. Call me up, I can write these all day). This book is pretty much all of the things noted in the synopsis above, certainly, but it is broader in scope than the blurb suggests.

It is about Lin, a "musician and lyricist of uncommon ability," though the issue isn't technically that women are forbidden to use music; women are de facto disallowed from being Poets and musicians, cut-off from the choice by societal norms, rather than by the law de jure. I think this says a lot more about the society than that it is "illegal" for women to use music. This is a cultural, societal, top-down discrimination. A poet runs the world, but even poets are censored and living half-lives. Play a song that hasn't been approved? You might end up dead.

The novel is also very much about the characters glossed over in the synopsis with the quick phrase "and several others". There are multiple limited third-person perspectives; we are looking not just over Lin's shoulder, but over the shoulders of several other young, creative characters.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
LAST SONG BEFORE NIGHT by Ilana C, Myer is an impressive piece of work.
Some books are to be devoured while others should be savored. LAST SONG BEFORE NIGHT is a rich repast with fine vintages, and should not be hurried over. Its lyricism alone make it worth appreciating.
The writer gives us a world where a king has gained control over the singers and harpists and, in so doing, banished the magic they can summon with their music. This isn't the first book in which magic and music are intimately related but. like other elements of the story, the writer has stamped it with her own vision and made it her own.
The characters are vivid and fully realized. While the central protagonist is the catalyst for the story, others play almost equally vital parts. Indeed, in some ways, each character plays an essential part and the story would not have been complete without them. To use the symbols of the story, this is not a solo performance but a symphony.
The plotting is intricate without being endlessly recomplicated. The basis of the story is a malign power behind the throne, working its own dark magic that threatens to spill over with, among other things, a plague, and the protagonists must find the lost key to the magic that can defeat the force.
One of the interesting perceptions is how much of the evil done is the result of pettiness and beyond rational understanding.
I'm grateful for the opportunity to read this work and share the perceptions, insights, and visions, some of which are delivered in a sort of magical kaleidoscope. I believe Myer is only going to grow as a writer, and she's definitely hit the ground running with this debut novel. I look forward to seeing more of this writer's work.
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