Review: Nights of Villjamur by Mark Charan Newton

Title: Nights of Villjamur

Author: Mark Charan Newton

Series: Legends of the Red Sun #1

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Tor

Summary (from Goodreads)

An ice age strikes a chain of islands, and thousands come to seek sanctuary at the gates of Villjamur: a city of ancient spires and bridges, a place where banshees wail the deceased, cultists use forgotten technology for their own gain and where, further out, the dead have been seen walking across the tundra.When the Emperor commits suicide, his elder daughter, Rika, is brought home to lead the Jamur Empire, but the sinister Chancellor plans to get rid of her and claim the throne for himself. Meanwhile a senior investigator in the city inquisition must solve the high-profile and savage murder of a city politician, whilst battling evils within his own life, and a handsome and serial womanizer manipulates his way into the imperial residence with a hidden agenda. When reports are received that tens of thousands of citizens are dying in a bizarre genocide on the northern islands of the Empire, members of the elite Night Guard are sent to investigate. It seems that, in this land under a red sun, the long winter is bringing more than just snow.

What’s Good About It

There’s a lot going on – political intrigue, dangerous unknown threats on the outer islands, an ice age. All these big things are played off against the small concerns – a husband trying to reconcile with his wife, a son trying to save his mother, and it’s the contrast that works so well. Often epic fantasy is so concerned with the epic that it forgets about the human interest, the telling details that help us relate to the characters and their struggles, and through them take interest in the grand scale battles and issues.

The characters are believable and relatable, even the ones that aren’t human, and there’s plenty of fantastical colour to Villjamur – from the banshees and Garudas that inhabit its streets to the red sun that lights its sky. There’s action too – with sword fights, murders, romance, quests and a bit of dancing there’s never a dull moment.

And the best bit, of course, is it’s the first part in a trilogy, which means there’s plenty more of the good stuff to come.

What’s Not So Good

I spent the majority of the book confused as to whether two characters were or weren’t the same person. But that might just be me being entirely dense.

Rating: 4.5/5

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