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The Dying of the Golden Day (The Heartfriend Series) (Volume 1) Paperback – September 16, 2016
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About the Author
Carrie Gessner received a BA in English from Carnegie Mellon University and an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. She writes speculative fiction and literary fiction and drinks a lot of tea. When she's not writing or reading, she likes to go for walks in the park with her greyhound.
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I spend a lot of time reading urban fantasy these days, so it had been a while since I dove into a more traditional epic fantasy. Starting this novel felt a little bit like coming home. However, this novel is an epic fantasy for the modern age, filled with familiar elements of detailed world-building and political intrigue, but with surprising twists regarding characterization and other story elements.
Though fantasy novels set in vaguely medieval/renaissance time periods are a trope of the genre, including castles, swordplay, and royalty, The Dying of the Golden Day fills out the world with a unique and detailed magical and religious tradition that separate it from other books. The main character herself is a study in contrasts -- Aurelia is connected with the prince of her country through a magical bond, but their relationship is that of trusted adviser and friend rather than a source for sexual tension or other such drama. In addition, she is a woman both magically gifted and intellectually trained in the healing arts, but who does not shy away from learning to defend herself in physical combat.
Though Aurelia's narrative is who we follow through the plot, I was also very interested in the other two characters with magical ability -- Edana and Brennus. Both of them surprised me with their character development and revelations late in the book, and I hope they are explored more fully in later series installments.
Like all proper epic fantasy, this book was LONG. While I can't look back and point to sections that could have been cut whole-sale, and there were never scenes that dragged to the point of being unbearable, there was just a lot of story to get through. Luckily, things picked up in the back 1/4 of the book as events hurled toward a climax. Though not a traditional cliffhanger, many questions are left unanswered, and I am intrigued enough to continue with the series to see where these characters -- and their entire world -- go next.
I recently found out that Miss Carrie is a new author. This first novel is excellent especially for a new author.
I can see that this being a movie in the near furture!!!!>
Carrie Gessner’s debut, The Dying of the Golden Day, seeks to encompass the former, and succeeds admirably. With its narrow focus on an intrinsically flawed heroine struggling to discover her own role and place in the world, Gessner has crafted a work that is more than the sum of its parts.
Aurelia is the last to be born with the gift, a happenstance she has been told all her life is a sure sign of darkness within her. For, not only will she bring about the end of the gift itself, but hers is a harbinger of shadow upon the entire world. With no family, and few friends, she is raised to believe nothing good will ever come from her. Until she meets Renfred.
The young prince of a long divided kingdom, he alone sees true worth within her and takes her as his Heartfriend, a companion closer than friend or blood. Together, he gives her purpose--to re-unit the broken kingdom of Inantan. And with him she feels the hope that the darkness lurking within her can be contained.
Through this seemingly simple tale, filled with armies, betrayal, magic swords, and grand palaces, Gessner weaves another, far more personal story. One of loss and friendship. A story that explores with us the emptiness we feel when we are told over and over how worthless we are. Through beautiful, often poignant prose, she gently guides our eyes and asks us how a person can move past those words, beyond what others tell us we are, and into who we really are. A journey fraught with perils of our own making far more dangerous than any the world conjures against us.
It is this depth of feeling and theme that makes Gessner’s first novel in The Heartfriends Series stand out from the crowd. It is surely a must read for anyone who loves great fantasy and the wonderful places it can take us.
Miss Gessner’s writing reads quick and demands your attention as she pulls you into the world of magic and mystery. The dialogue sparkles, yet reads completely natural; it’s exactly the way you would expect the characters to speak. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for few hours escape. I can’t wait for the next book in this series.