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Nights of Villjamur (Legends of the Red Sun) Paperback – May 24, 2011
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Beneath a dying red sun sits the proud and ancient city of Villjamur, capital of a mighty empire where humans coexist with the birdlike garda race, the reptilian rumel who can live for hundreds of years, and the eerie banshees whose forlorn cries herald death. But now all life is threatened by an encroaching ice age. Throngs of refugees gather outside the city gates, while within, tragedy forces the Emperor’s elder daughter, Jamur Rika, to assume the throne. Joined by her younger sister, Jamur Eir, the new queen takes pity on the common peopleâand takes counsel from dashing teacher Randur Estevu, who is not what he seems. Meanwhile, a grisly murder draws rumel investigator Rumex Jeryd into a web of corruptionâand an obscene conspiracy that imperils the lives of Rika and Eir and the future of Villjamur itself. But far north, where the drawn-out winter has already begun, an even greater danger appears, against which all the empire’s military and magical power may be uselessâa threat from another world.
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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.
This book had the potential to be great, but fell just short.
A city experiencing an oncoming ice age, different races living under one rule, murder in the streets, magic being used in armies, a foe from potentially another dimension....and yet I read another book while in the middle of this one. There are never any points throughout the novel that kept me hooked for more than a page. Without giving away too much there are even times where creatures are being given life through a prostitute and their descriptions and killing devices warranted only two pages. I feel like (and no offense is meant here) that a woman would much prefer this book over a man due to the intimacy characters form between one another and the lack of overall excitement and intrigue.
To being with, this is dark and gritty fantasy "noir" set in a world with a long, and largely forgotten, history. The story is set at the beginning of the long-anticipated "Freeze" (think an ice age expected to last for decades) and the City of Villjamur is in preparation mode. Part of this preparation involves the ruling counsel keeping tens of thousands refugees seeking shelter out of the City in order to reduce the burden on the City's resources, thus leaving them to starve to death. This decision does not sit well with everyone in the City. Add to that a series of bizzare (and seemingly impossible) murders plaguing the City that maybe linked to an ancient, mysterious religious cult with secret (but very powerful) members and you have the makings for some politcal intrigue that would make Goerge R. R. Martin proud.
The plot is very strong and all the moving threads are handled very deftly by the author. However, what really sets this book head and shoulders above so much of the other books in the genre is the world-building and the characters, which include both human and non-human alike. Looking at the characters first, a few of my favorties were: (1) A rumel who leads the investigation of the bizzare murders (rumels are a long lived non-human race that run the Villjamur judicial branch) (2) the Albino commander of Villjamur's elite guard (3) a powerful sorceror taking desparate measures to maintain his long life and (4) Jurra, a Dawnir, and only known member of the ancient race credited with all of the magic and technology existing in the world.
Finally, the world-building is AS GOOD AS IT GETS. In addiiton to the different races and cultures living together in the City (rumel, Dawnir, banshees and garudas), each of which is given their own unique voice by the author, you have religious/magical cults vying for power, a corrupt ruling council, animated corpses used as soldiers and the City of Villjamur itself that is described in such beautiful and lyrical prose as to make it truly come alive.
This is the kind of book you want to go back and reread a second time in order to absorb everything that is going on. I can't wait for the sequel, City of Ruin, which is coming out shortly. HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION!!!
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Series: Legends of the Red Sun (Book 1)
Mark Charan Newton
ISBN-13: 978-0345520852...Read more