A Day of Fallen Night (The Roots of Choas #0) | Review
Rating - ⭐⭐⭐⭐1/2
"Tunuva Melim is a sister of the Priory. For fifty years, she has trained to slay wyrms – but none have appeared since the Nameless One, and the younger generation is starting to question the Priory's purpose.
To the north, in the Queendom of Inys, Sabran the Ambitious has married the new King of Hróth, narrowly saving both realms from ruin. Their daughter, Glorian, trails in their shadow – exactly where she wants to be.
The dragons of the East have slept for centuries. Dumai has spent her life in a Seiikinese mountain temple, trying to wake the gods from their long slumber. Now someone from her mother's past is coming to upend her fate.
When the Dreadmount erupts, bringing with it an age of terror and violence, these women must find the strength to protect humankind from a devastating threat."
A Day of Fallen Night is the prequel to Samantha Shannon's The Priory of the Orange Tree.
This was easily one of my most anticipated books of the year, having loved reading The Priory of the Orange Tree. Its almost 900 pages didn't intimidate me either, and despite it taking me a long time to get through it, I rather enjoyed reading this (though I can't say I liked this one better).
Let's get into the details.
Like the first book, the way the story is formatted is very similar. In this, we follow characters based on their locations - North, East, South, and West. While there are main characters we follow, the perspectives are not static and tend to shift to follow different people as the story moves along. Stylistically it does make sense for the story, it does take some time to get used to as you get familiar with all the characters. Another downside is that you have to remember what happened last when you read a certain character's perspective. Sometimes you wouldn't read from their perspective for several chapters, and it was almost like you needed a quick refresher.
Ending on a more positive note, Shannon's writing in general flows really well. You don't get bogged down by too much fantastical wording and chunky blocks of text.
The story, once you break it down, is rather simple since it follows a very straightforward path. While it does take a while to reach its conclusion, considering the size of the book, you do end up getting pulled into the world rather easily. The book doesn't drag on as well, nor does it feel like there is any unnecessary narrative. The transition between periods is done well as each one ends on a high note and then we get to read about the effects of what just happened in the next.
On the downside, although this is more minor, I did have some issues with the story. For one, at some points, I did feel like I missed something, but I don't know if that is my fault or the book's. There was one scene in particular where I don't remember how the story got there as it seemed like an entire scene was missing in between. Also, like her first book, I found that battle scenes are a weak point for Shannon. The final battle is supposed to be an epic conclusion that needs to run a bit on the longer side. With Shannon, her final battles are very short, to the point where you don't get much out of it.
We follow a series of different characters across the world in this story. Unlike the first book, I can't say I got too attached to any of them. That probably is because I loved to read about Ead and Sabran and their romance, and while this did have romances in it, it wasn't them. Dumai and Tunuva were both still good characters to follow though because they were fleshed out well and were very strong and assertive. Glorian though probably ended up standing out the most.
I rather liked Glorian's character arc. She started out Glorian as the kind of character I don't care too much for, a princess who must marry but doesn't want to. I find that, for the most part, those kinds of characters end up being a bit insufferable even though they are well within their rights to decide their own future. Glorian though ended up becoming one hell of a strong female character, someone who was worthy of their birthright as a Queen among Queens. There was one specific moment with her, though I won't go into details because of spoilers, where I sat there thinking about how badass she was. On a sidenote, she is also over 6 feet tall which I love because tall girls need more representation and love.
One highlight from this book is that Shannon continued with the sapphic romances. It is also very casual sapphism, like there is no need for an explanation as to why queer love exists in the world, it just does which I rather like. I would like though for more queer romances to be thrown into the mix as well to further diversify the story, but I will still take the sapphic romance as a win.
While this didn't end up sparking the same emotions I felt while reading the first book, this was still a great entry in the series and a solid adult fantasy book in general. I really hope that there is more to this universe. I would love to read a book following the events when the Nameless One was originally raised and was defeated, especially since that coincides with the founding of the Priory.