Hot on the heels of yesterday’s review, I really enjoyed the dramatic conclusion to this fast-paced epic fantasy trilogy!
Book: Into the Dying Light by Katy Rose Pool
Publication date: 21st September 2021
Ownership: Review copy sent free of charge by Orbit Books. All opinions my own.
Content warnings: Violence, injury, and death, including suicide; blood magic including using others’ life force; death of loved ones/family and grief; references to physical and emotional abuse of children in past.
Following the destruction of the City of Mercy, an ancient god has been resurrected and sealed inside Beru’s body. Both are at the mercy of the Prophet Pallas, who wields the god’s powers to subjugate the Six Prophetic Cities. But every day, the god grows stronger, threatening to break free and sow untold destruction.
Meanwhile, far away from Pallas Athos, Anton learns to harness his full powers as a Prophet. Armed with the truth about how the original Prophets killed the god, Anton leads Jude, Hassan, and Ephyra on a desperate quest to the edge of the world. With time running out, the group’s tenuous alliance is beset by mounting danger, tumultuous romance, and most of all by a secret that Anton is hiding: a way to destroy the god at the price of an unbearable sacrifice. But the cost of keeping that secret might be their lives—and the lives of everyone in the Six Prophetic Cities.
I’m going to do my best to keep this spoiler-free for the previous two books, but as ever, it’s hard not to mention the characters who are still around, so if you want to be completely unaware of anything going into this series, this is your warning!
At the start of this book, two months have passed since the end of As the Shadow Rises, and things are… not going well for our group of reluctant allies. There’s very little I can tell you about the plot itself without spoiling one thing or another, so I’ll focus on the abstract stuff: I thought that the action got going much sooner in this book, and it was much clearer who was doing what and why they were doing it. There’s much less meandering about waiting for other characters to act, so they can get on with a single plan for saving the world, which I found way more fun to read. It meant I was much more excited to see the plan unfold (and all the moments it inevitably goes wrong, because you have to have some twists!) and kept my focus much better. I raced through this in two fairly short sittings, and it’s nearly 500 pages long. The ending was very satisfying, too, and left me with the sense of hope for the world that I love to find in fantasy – it’s not about a “happy” ending (as I say, no spoilers!), but a general vibe that not everything has to be unrelentingly bleak forever.
Pulling the characters back onto one main plot line also made their emotional journeys feel more significant, and I loved some of the character development here, particularly Ephyra’s, since I didn’t click with her in the previous book. I did think it was a little too tidy that all five of our POV characters and all three of the other main characters made four neat couples; there’s a teeny bit of a love triangle across the series if you squint but it’s cut off hard, so don’t worry if this is a trope you hate! But it is very convenient to pair off the only eight people on the good side who have significant roles, and I think it’s part of what makes this feel more YA in tone – not the romance itself, which is done very nicely, but the fact that these characters don’t have much of a connection to the outer world. Among the eight of them, there’s a pair of sisters, and a different pair of brothers, so their connections are minimised even further – in fact, only one of our five POV characters gets a love interest that didn’t grow up with someone else in the group, and his is the storyline that’s the most separate from theirs anyway. I never got a sense that any of them had much of a life before the story kicked off, which is kind of necessary for the plot, but does make this feel a little shallower than something with a sprawling map of connections.
As I said in my review of As the Shadow Rises yesterday, though the subject matter isn’t light at all, the way the story is told is lighter than a lot of adult fantasy tomes. It’s heavy on the action and dialogue, and light on description and downtime. I think if you’re looking for a fast-paced and flashy epic fantasy that reads like an action movie, this series is going to be absolutely perfect for you. If you asked me on a random day about my fantasy preferences, I’d say I tend to be more in favour of an intricately-described world, but I read this series after a couple of very densely detailed fantasies, and it was the perfect palate cleanser – easy to fall into, and leaves you desperate for just one more chapter every time you mean to put it down. Four out of five cats!