- 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: 58 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,226,224 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Last Song Before Night Hardcover – September 29, 2015
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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
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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Here's the part where I wish I were a writer so I could do justice to this book. Alas, my reviews tend to read like student book reports (this is what I liked. this is what I didn't like. etc). So instead I'll just tell you who should read Last Song Before Night:
If you like high fantasy, read this book.
If you like well-drawn characters with complex, believable motivations behind their actions, read this book.
If you enjoy Guy Gavriel Kay's lyrical writing and masterfully bittersweet plots, read this book.
If you like Patricia McKillip's dreamy prose, read this book.
If you are tired of drawn-out series and just want to read an epic that stands alone, read this book.
If you are tired of the usual fantasy tropes and are looking for an original story, read this book.
If you are an artist or have a love for the arts, in any form, read this book.
And if you want to know more, read the other reviews already posted. The other reviewers have done a much more thorough job than I. I may not be a writer, but I'm a very experienced reader and I know good work when I see it!
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.
Kimbralin Amaristoth is a scion of a northern noble family. A cruel and maliciously hate-filled one at that. This has made Lin’s decision to abandon her home and travel to the capital of Tamryllin not only an easy one, but a necessary one as well. Even so, Women are not allowed to attend the Academy and become Poets, and yet Lin, as she is now known, has a gift for music and poetry and will not allow her dreams to be denied. Even as she and her partner, as well as their friends and rivals, all seek to enter the yearly poetry contest at an important festival, events around them are pressing down on them. From the office of the Court Poet, to dark doings outside of Eivar, to the sleeping nature of magic in the realm, to her own family and her troubled past, trouble threatens to not only destroy Lin’s dreams and ambition, but her entire world.
The novel appears right off to be a typical fantasy (including that gorgeous Stephen Martiniere cover), with an entire party set right off, ready to face an ancient evil and go off in typical fashion. These expectations are subverted immediately, instead settling into a meditation on music, poetry, power, expectations of roles and much more. Although there are a braided set of stories and characters here, Lin is the standout, central character, and it is her story that Myer explores to most length, and to most potent effect.
The writing in a novel about poetry, and music, and the power and uses of language lives up to the high expectations that I had for it. Not only the snatches of poetry and verse that we get throughout the novel, but just the writing of scenes, of dialogues and characters, is artful and well formed, and fully and completely immersive. I felt like a companion to Lin and her friends as they struggled with the challenges and expectations of their stations, and how those conflicted with the desires and needs. For much of the novel, the story is extremely secondary world urban fantasy, and Tamryllin is a city I grew to adore and wanted to spend time in.
Although the nature of magic, and the art is different, Last Song Before Night resonates, for me, in the same way as The Golden Key, by Kate Elliott, Jennifer Roberson and Melanie Rawn did. That story is much more of a generational epic. However, like Last Song Before Night, that novel explores how artists can seek to try and transform their world, through art and through magic, and how the world transforms around them without their desire or provenance.
The novel’s subversion of the idea of it being a quest fantasy fades in the latter portion of the novel, after seemingly moving toward that in the beginning. Unfortunately, for me, the quest portions of the narrative did not feel quite as interesting as what was going on in the city. It is as if, in leaving the taverns and halls of power in Tamryllin, the novel loses some of what makes it so great. It may also be that the potency of the story, the characters (both protagonists and antagonists) and the richness of doings in the capital make the road trip seem somewhat less interesting only by comparison. However, Myer’s gift for language, description and evocation of character and themes remain strong throughout the book.
That said, the themes, ideas, and the strength of the main character and her personal journey more than make up for this shortcoming. Like a musical piece, I knew that my time with Lin and her companions in the world that Myer created was limited, and I was slightly sad that it had to come an end. Thankfully, there are going to be subsequent volumes set in the same world, and I am all ears to listen to more of Myer’s music.
Most recent customer reviews
And then the flow changes. And the plot turns, twists, changes.Read more
Myer's writing style is beautiful, lilting and melodic even in the sections of straight prose.Read more