Malian is the Heir of Night, one of the great houses of the Derai, who are a warriorlike people who originally came from among the stars to settle on their current planet. With them they brought their age old enemies, the Swarm, and so the story begins with the never ending battle between the two sides finally coming to the fore again as Malian is chased deep within the ruins of the Old Keep in order to escape those whose only goal is her capture or death. This is, I hope, the first volume in what is shaping up to be a truly excellent series - the Derai are warriors to the bone, cursed with far too many rigid walls and viewpoints, but they are a likeable race despite this, and totally different from any of the other characters whose home is, and has always been, the world that this book is set within. Malian and her companion Kallan are both very likeable and show promise of developing into two very good characters indeed, sympathetic and flawed and profoundly human. They meet an assortment of different people in this first step on their quest, including a woman who controls winter, a man and a woman who are part of the mysterious Heralds, and an assortment of different members of the Derai. I particularly liked Asantir - anyone who loves a strong female warrior character will very much like this lady as she is rather marvellous! The Swarm themselves are threatening and frightening in equal measure, very well written to convey a palpable aura of evil.
The writing is fluid and evocative, delightfully old fashioned in places in a way that really manages to convey the feel of the place far more than would have been done in more modern language. I must admit that this book kept me up late on several nights as I just could not put it down but had to turn the page and find out what happened next. I will be eagerly awaiting the next installment of the series.
An excellent beginning, well suited to anyone who loves high fantasy with a distinct twist.