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Nights of Villjamur (Legends of the Red Sun) Paperback – May 24, 2011


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Product Details

  • Series: Legends of the Red Sun (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Spectra; Reprint edition (May 24, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345520858
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345520852
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,892,447 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Newton opens a complex epic fantasy series with this impressive debut. The ancient fortress city of Villjamur is filled with human and nonhuman inhabitants, many of them refugees seeking shelter from a predicted decades-long ice age. The untimely death of the mad emperor Jamur Johynn forces his unworldly elder daughter, Rika, to assume the throne as her sister, Eir, gains a perspective beyond her palace walls and the members of the council make their own power plays. War and religious conflicts as well as more personal matters of desires for power and immortality set the scene for acts of compassion and betrayal. Newton handles his multilayered world and diverse cast of characters with the assurance of an experienced author and balances his fantasy tropes with elements of horror and political commentary in vividly descriptive, compelling prose.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Newton’s debut is the first in an epic fantasy series, Legends of the Red Sun, and it adds a murder mystery to the usual epic-fantasy mix. The inhabitants of the city of Villjamur are preparing for an upcoming ice age when a member of the ruling Council is gruesomely murdered. Jeryd, a nonhuman Rumel, is the city’s senior investigator, and after nearly 200 years, he thinks he has seen it all. Meanwhile, island boy Randur has come to the city in hopes of persuading the magic-wielding cultists to extend his mother’s life. As the ice tightens its grip on the island empire, enemies strike and an unknown force kills most of the Night Guard, an elite force led by Brynd, the king’s most trusted advisor and fighter. Because the mystery isn’t the only plotline, this is best recommended to fantasy fans who also enjoy mysteries; there may be too much fantasy for most mystery readers. Unusual characters, including those from nonhuman races and a compelling gay protagonist, give this genre-bender plenty of appeal for a variety of readers. --Jessica Moyer --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Mark Charan Newton was born in 1981, and holds a degree in Environmental Science. After working in bookselling, he moved into editorial positions at imprints covering science fiction and fantasy. He has written for a variety of non-fiction publications including The Ecologist and The Huffington Post, as well as science fiction for BBC Radio 4.

He currently lives and works in Nottingham. You can find him online at markcnewton.com or https://www.facebook.com/markcnewton

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Nick Brett VINE VOICE on March 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is a complex and ambitious piece of fantasy which is both a good and a bad thing. The author presents a world on the edge of an ice age (the Freeze) where the privileged few are preparing for a few decades of difficulty while many of the rest of the unfortunate population will be left to their own devices. This is a world populated mainly by humans, but there are a few sentient non humans in the cast too which makes for a potentially more interesting set of characters.

Added into the mix here we have a scheming chancellor, various weird religions, cultists who use ancient technology and the loyal Night Guard there to act as the Empire's special forces.

And there's the trouble really, there is almost too much going on and what could have been a truly fascinating world and premise is bogged down by complexity, too many characters and a strange writing style. By strange writing style I mean that it veers from the good to the cliché and from the flowing prose to the stilted with far too much regularity. With the exception of the head of the Guards, you actually fail to connect with almost any of the characters and while the second half of the book is an improvement, overall it just about makes 3 stars. But, it has to be said, the pace and plot really picks up in the second half and it is a shame that this is not matched in the first 200 pages as the author's focus is on the world building rather then getting the reader absorbed in the plot.

It is a real shame, because there are some great ideas in here. I feel the author would have benefited from a more critical and guiding editor who might have helped shape and tighten the book. It does leave a lot of open plot lines to be picked up in the next book, but I think I shall wait for the reviews before deciding to pick it up or not.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By The Mad Hatter VINE VOICE on June 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The Sun is red and getting dimmer year after year. The winters are getting colder and now a freeze is set to happen that will last for the next 40 years where the world will ice over and only those who have prepared may live to tell their children of how the world was before or so hope the leaders of this world.

With Nights of Villjamur Charan has landed and brought his unique insights and clear, distinctive voice to the world with a skill that belies his age. Nights of Villjamur is the first book in the Legends of the Red Sun series by Newton, which has been lauded quite well in the UK since it came out there last year. This is Charan's US debut, although his UK debut was The Reef from a small press that can be a bit hard to find. I've seen reviews that make Nights of Villjamur out to be a cross of Vance's Dying Earth and Mieville's early work, which is definitely on the spot. However, in many ways I found the writing and characters more approachable than in any of the Dying Earth books I've read to date.

Villjamur the titular city is the largest in the world, alluded to be a far future Earth. Villjamur is a character of its own few other fictional cities can be compare to. It is dark and moody, but shows signs of love and selflessness albeit with plenty of venom and conspiracy down dark alleys. Great and wonderful things happen in Villjamur, but even more dastardly and vile actions, people, and plenty else are a foot.

This is not a land of heroes, but of survivors. As the ice encroaches in on civilization people from all over are traveling to the largest cities of the world with Villjamur being the goal for the majority since it is the capital.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By B. Davis on February 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For a first novel, Nights of Villjamur is 'OK'.

Here's my take on some pro's and con's:
- Good use of the English Language
- Relatively solid shifting of character perspectives (with the possible risk of having no primary character for whom the reader should 'immediately' meld onto)
- Highlight(s) were scenes in the underbelly
- The inspector & the 'murder investigation' and his wife. VERY well actualized character.

Some downsides (or alternative upsides)
- Lack of dramatic tension (is the freeze the threat? The cultists? The crabs? The treason against the empire?). Lots of things going on, with zero depth afforded to most (reminded me of the TV Show 'Flash Forward')
- Author's prose is rich British modern vernacular.... right on down to the use of the word 'right' and 'cultist' (Jim Jones must be lurking around somewhere offering kool-aid to drink)).

Is it worth a read? Likely yes, especially in a paperback format, especially in a genre relatively devoid of depth recently.

Is it 5 '*' material in my estimation ? No. This isn't as good as a random Erikson novel, or even Patrick Rothfus' stellar 'Name of the Wind' debut.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By The Evil Hat (evilhatDOTblogspotCOM) on October 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover
"Every detail mattered to her. It could be the difference between dying and getting home to Villjamur." (p. 3)

Striving to be a fusion of Epic Fantasy grandeur and New Weird aesthetic, it could never be said that Nights of Villjamur is not an ambitious novel. Though all of the various strands do not always come together as they should, this is still a powerful novel that has just enough experimentation to feel fresh and bold while still never venturing too far from the beaten path.

The core of Nights of Villjamur is the city of Villjamur and the world around it. Newton uses two techniques to make his settings feel real and vibrant. The first is his prose. Newton's writing is highly descriptive, packing a multitude of details into tight paragraphs that have to be unraveled carefully lest the intricacies of the image be lost. He guides these descriptions with about faces that give the story a cinematic feel, twisting our view around just as we begin to comprehend what we're seeing:

"Back across the city.

Lanterns were being lit by citizens who perhaps had expected a brighter day. Glows of orange crept through the dreary morning, defining the shapes of elaborate windows, wide octagons, narrow arches. It had been a winter of bistros with steamed-up windows, of tundra flowers trailing down from hanging baskets, of constant plumes of smoke from chimneys, one where concealed gardens were dying, starved of sunlight, and where the statues adorning once-flamboyant balconies were no suffocating under lichen." (p. 15)

Villjamur has a very different feel from many fantasy cities. Newton's setting is not traditional fantasy, but rather dying earth, taking place in the distant future rather than the imagined past.
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