Reviews for A Day Of Fallen Night

by Samantha Shannon

Publishers Weekly
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Shannon artfully builds on the world of The Priory of the Orange Tree with this masterful standalone prequel. Taking place centuries before the events of Priory, it’s an expansive epic that interweaves four connected story lines as the protagonists reckon with both personal conflicts and the cataclysmic resurgence of wyrmkind. Glorian Berethnet, teenage daughter to the queen of Inys, faces mounting pressure to conceive her own child and secure the line of succession. Wulfert Glenn, a foundling and housecarl sworn to Glorian’s father, the king of Hróth, struggles to cast off whispers of witchcraft that cling to him from his mysterious past. Meanwhile, Tunuva Melim, a warrior of the Priory, ventures into the outside world to pursue a runaway postulant whose relationship with an outsider puts their sanctuary at risk. And Dumai, raised in a secluded mountaintop temple, is thrown into a dangerous world of courtly intrigue when she learns she’s the firstborn daughter of Jorodu, Emperor of Seiiki. As roving monsters sow destruction throughout the realm, all must race to survive. Shannon skillfully grounds high-stakes fantasy action in human emotion and a mature exploration of duty, bodily autonomy, identity, and motherhood. Series fans and any reader looking for queernorm fantasy will be thrilled by this self-assured adventure. Agent: David Godwin, David Godwin Assoc. (Feb.)

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Magic, dragons, and prophecy are welcome threads in a fantasy that extols the power of motherhood, friendship, and self-love to change the world. This prequel to Shannon’s The Priory of the Orange Tree (2019) has a similar scope to that 800-page fantasy, but dragon lore is less important here than the stories of people and events that become catalysts for The Priory's tale. Each chapter is grounded by a cardinal direction, lest you lose your bearings, with the four corners of the world home to central characters whom readers will get to know intimately. In the West lives Glorian, heir to the queendom of Inys. Her rule is based on the sacred Berethnet bloodline, whose power originates from the knight Galian Berethnet's banishing of the Nameless One, a giant fire-breathing wyrm birthed from the world’s core. In the East, Dumai lives on a mountain peak and trains as a godsinger, someone who harbors a human connection to the dragons the East worship as gods. In the South, Tunuva is a warrior of the Priory, a sisterhood that worships the Mother who is seen as the true banisher of the Nameless One. Their beliefs are so different and their societies so distanced that they don't know of the others' existence. And yet, when the balance of nature starts to waver, bringing whispers of new fire-breathing threats like the Nameless One, these women find themselves united by a common cause to save their people and seek truth about the higher powers at war with one another. This story is epic in scope, but its density is the sort that pulls you in. The biggest pull comes from the humanity displayed by the central characters, whose hearts ache for their children and their futures in a world fraught with turmoil. The fire-breathers bring more than destruction in their wake; they also bring a plaguelike sickness that will elicit sharp parallels to the Covid-19 pandemic. The very real struggles these characters face, whether they ride dragons or bear the suffocating rules of monarchy, make this a consuming read. While some fantasy tropes feel like they've only been added to the story's surface, the pages keep turning because of the heart-wrenching reasons that characters are driven to action. The heroes shine in their uniqueness, with diverse family dynamics interwoven throughout and representation ranging from queer lords and warriors to genderfluid alchemists. This prequel stands on its own, but a word of warning to people who have read The Priory: You'll want to reread it in order to benefit from the deeper knowledge of what came before. Prepare yourself for the long haul. This is expansive, emotionally complex, and bound to suck you in. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

This stand-alone is set in the same world and approximately 500 years before The Priory of the Orange Tree (2019). As with Priory, the action concerns the balance of energies in the world, represented by fire-breathing wyrms and water-wielding dragons. Any pretense of equilibrium is dramatically fractured when the Dreadmount erupts, spawning five terrible wyrms and their draconic minions. In the East, a sage named Dumai discovers she’s the heir to the beleaguered ruling dynasty of Seiiki. In the South, Tunuva, a veteran warrior sister of the Priory, works to reconcile duty with the pain of losing her child. In the West, teenage princess Glorian of Inys struggles with her lack of bodily autonomy. And in the North, a young man with a mysterious past, Glorian’s childhood friend Wulf, witnesses the first instances of a deadly plague. Each of them must make difficult choices as wyrms spread fire and disease to all quarters of the world. As with its counterpart, A Day of Fallen Night is essentially a fantasy trilogy in one volume, allowing for deep exploration of each protagonist as they navigate a brutal cataclysm. This richly detailed epic roars to a satisfying conclusion; both Priory devotees and newcomers are in for a treat.