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3.7 out of 5 stars45
3.7 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Seen much of this before but it is delivered very competently by the author in her first book aimed at an adult audience. And she does treat her audience like adults too, this is complex, deep and thoughtful with both world construction and back-story.

On the World of Haarth the Darkswarm are kept at bay behind a vast wall of protection which has a number of forts managed by different Houses of the Derai. Time and a war between the Houses 500 years ago has left them isolated, not trusting each-other and losing much of their faith and tradition.

Our focus is on the House of Night which is attacked early on in the novel and this has consequences for all, including Malian the Heir and her Father the Earl.

It is good stuff and I did have to concentrate (with occasional checks to the glossary at the back) as more myth, legend and history came to light. The story also involves different planes of existence which again while not original, work well in the story. Minor gripes might be how maturely young Malian and her equally young priestly companion act and some of the dialogue is slightly stilted at times, but the bottom line is that I enjoyed this and am keen to find where Ms Lowe is taking this story next.
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VINE VOICEon 23 June 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
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.
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VINE VOICEon 10 June 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I found this story different from what the summary implied. Malian, the Heir, is a 12 year old girl, daughter to the Earl of Night (so-called because they fight against it), who lost her mother at a very young age, but the truth behind this is hidden from her until she discovers that she has magical powers.

Initially she appears to be like any 12 year old girl - doing things she shouldn't - although her games of swordplay reflect the environment she has grown up in. However, from the moment she is called back to her duties as Heir, she behaves more like someone in their twenties with a certain amount of experience behind them and capable of deep, rational thought. This is the only part that I found incongruous and rather silly.

Generally, magical powers are frowned upon and those who have them are considered tainted in some way and shoved away to become priests and priestesses. Kalan is a boy of 14 who was coldly turned out of his family's house the moment he was dicovered to have such powers.

One night, both Malian and Kalan find themselves in places they shouldn't be which, in effect, saves their lives. Both are driven from those places into the 'old keep' by a strange voice that urges them on to safety. That is where they meet and that is where Malian discovers, to her dismay and yet also to her salvation, that she has extremely powerful magic.

In this story, we find that truth has been twisted by fear and traditions have become almost laws and blood oaths are now a severe problem, but which, nonetheless, can not be set aside however inconvenient or dangerous. All of these are to affect Malian in deep and lasting ways.
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VINE VOICEon 21 July 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I could fault-find with this book because nothing is perfect - but I don't want to. I LIKE it too much for that. If it's possible for a story to be humble about itself, Helen Lowe's writing has a poise and grace to it that makes it different to a few other books I read recently. This book doesn't think of itself as lofty and grand, or the best thing since Robin Hobb or anything like that (apt that the cover blurb is, in fact, Hobb's), and it does that endearing thing of not condescending to the reader.

Be assured this is *fantasy* (not paranormal romance, as I first thought on seeing the title)(with a curious sci-fi crossover - the Derai travel through space, followed by their ancient enemy - or do they follow them? I don't remember). Although its elements are nothing new, they are somehow fresh and not unsurprising. Perhaps because the familiar set-pieces are there - the young protagonists who need each other, the 'fool' character, the mysterious foreigners, a prophecy - combining with a mythology that determines the shape of their destinies, it is easy to be drawn in to the story and become attached to the story (what Jasper Fforde calls the 'reader feedback loop', but transferring to different stories within the same genre).

Good synopses have already been provided in other reviews - I wanted to say merely that I enjoyed Heir of Night very, very much, flaws and all. I expect the second book will improve on whatever didn't work in the first, as Lowe improves as a writer.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
As a dyed in the wool Fantasy fan, I was very pleasantly suprised by this book, while the plot is nothing new (well not so far, book 1) there are some very interesting ideas relating to the characters and the universe they inhabit. I liked the story, the characters and the style of writing, it was a very enjoyable read and I will be getting the next in the series when it appears. A new author that I will be looking out for in the future.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Malian, the 12 year old daughter of the Earl of Night is unaware of her old powers until her home is attacked by the Darkswarm. These psychic powers were once used to combat the Swarm of Darkness centuries beforehand, but now 500 years later very few wield these abilities and those that do are viewed with suspicion and cast out from their families. Now Malian and her friend Kalan; a young priest in training who also wields the old powers, find themselves hunted by the minions of the Darkspawn. As this ancient evil puts its plans in motion to destroy its enemies, old powers stir, artefacts of great power re-surface and legendary figures make themselves known, but are they Malian's friends or foe?

This is a sword and sorcery adventure with a bite, and as allies fall victim to an insidious enemy, there is a real sense of peril to the plot. With a story line reminiscent of authors such as George R Martin, Mercedes Lackey and David Eddings, "The Heir of Night" is the start of an epic fantasy adventure. HL's world building is excellent, with plenty of thought and detail put into histories, legends, and religions and it is peopled by a large cast of characters. But whilst many play an important role in the story line, the reader is always left wondering who can be trusted. In fact there are several characters I am eager to learn more of; Haimyr the golden minstrel, Rowan Birchmoon and the Heralds to name a few. Having dipped my toe into HL's fantasy world, I'm more than willing to take a dive straight into book 2 "The Gathering of the Lost" due for publication later this year.
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on 21 June 2011
I wrote this review a while ago, but I decided to post it here, because Helen Lowe's The Heir of Night is entertaining fantasy:

I recently read Helen Lowe's wonderful debut book, Thornspell, and now I had a chance to read the Advance Readers Edition of her second book, The Heir of Night. The Heir of Night is different from Thornspell, but it's just as good and interesting as Thornspell. Thornspell is a young adult fantasy book (a retelling of Sleeping Beauty), but The Heir of Night is a dark and complex book for adults.

The Heir of Night is traditional fantasy, but it's excellent traditional fantasy. Helen Lowe's prose flows effortlessly from the first pages to the last page and she uses magic in a good way.

Before I say anything else about The Heir of Night, I'll say a few words about traditional fantasy, because these things must be said:

Traditional fantasy is often regarded as childish and/or clichéd fantasy, because most new fantasy books are totally different from traditional in almost every possible way (several new fantasy books tend to be brutally realistic and violent and they contain only small doses of magic). In my opinion traditional fantasy shouldn't be overlooked, because there are writers who are capable of writing good and enjoyable books. I know that some readers are fed up with traditional fantasy, but everybody should remember that there would be no modern fantasy without traditional fantasy, because traditional fantasy is the cornerstone of fantasy literature. I also know that there are lots of bad and boring books out there, but not all books are bad, because certain books are worth reading.

Helen Lowe is a good writer who knows how to write traditional epic fantasy, so The Heir of Night is worth reading. Everybody who has read lots of fantasy will easily notice that Helen Lowe's writing style sets her apart from several other writers, because her prose flows beautifully and poetically from chapter to chapter. It's refreshing to read this kind of stories, because good writing is an essential part of fantasy literature.

Here's some information about The Heir of Night:

The world is called Haarth and it's divided into different parts. Haarth has a dark and bloody history and what's happened in the past affects the future. Because of the dark past the society is divided by fear and suspicion.

In the north, the House of Night stands against the forces of darkess, which threaten the world of Haarth. The House of Night is one of the nine Derai Houses, which guard the Shield-wall of Night. Their job is to keep the forces of darkness - the Darkswarm - behind the Wall of Night. It is said that the Derai have come from the stars and have fought the Darkswarm for ages.

This book contains a versatile cast of characters. I enjoyed reading about different characters and their traits.

Malian of the House of Night is an interesting and belieavable character, who suddenly finds out that she's in the middle of everything that's going on. She's an Heir to the House of Night and she has a destiny to become a champion. She suddenly notices that the fate of the divided world rests in her hands. She has lots of things to learn and she must learn who to trust and who not to trust.

Kalan of the House of Blood is also an interesting character, because he's a young man who has old powers. He has been sent to the priests because of his powers (people with powers are put into the care of priests and aren't allowed to live elsewhere). He knows many things about prophecies.

Other characters - Haimyr, Nhairin, Asantir, the Earl of Night etc - are also fascinating and well written characters.

In the beginning of the book an attack against the House of Night sets things in motion. Malian and Kalan flee into the Old Keep, which has been shunned for ages, because people think it's a haunted place. Their lives are forever changed when they enter further into the Old Keep. They learn about ancient secrets and old magic and suddenly nothing is the same anymore...

This powerful start is a prelude for things to come.

The worlbuilding in The Heir of Night is clearly a cut above what is currently the norm in mainstream fantasy, because Helen Lowe's descriptions are detailed and beautiful. She writes fluently about different places, people, history and other things. In other words, she creates a detailed fantasy world with her words and lets the reader immerse himself/herself in the rich fantasy world. This is one of the reasons why she's a much better writer than several other new fantasy writers.

The Heir of Night is a book filled with ancient magic, conflicts, sword fights, secrets, surprises, treachery and several other things which will be of interest to fantasy readers. It's surprising that Helen Lowe has added so many different elements into her second book, because several other writers would've included only some simple elements (she has lots of ambition). She builds up and releases tension brilliantly, which is a difficult thing to do. The events flow easily from scene to scene, because the storyline is strong.

I like the way Helen Lowe writes about political things and loyalties of the characters. These things are handled well in this book. Helen Lowe also writes skillfully about how her characters act in certain situations, what makes them do the things they do and how they feel about different kind of things. The conversations between characters are interesting and there's even a bit of humour in some conversations (several things are explained and explored through conversations).

This book has a good map of the world and also a comprehensive glossary of names, places and terms. The map looks very good, because it's beautifully illustrated. The atmospheric cover art by Greg Bridges also looks beautiful.

Earlier I wrote that Helen Lowe uses magic in a good way, so here's more information about magic:

This book contains interesting magic. I enjoyed reading about dreamwalking and things related to the golden fire. The golden fire is a brilliant invention, because it's a mystical thing, which offers help to people during their time of need. The old powers are fascinating magic powers, because many people have forgotten the importance of them and now it looks like they have to pay the price for their ignorance and negligence.

I think it's possible that some readers will try to compare The Wall of Night series to George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, because both series have a huge wall in the northern part of the world (Martin has a huge wall of ice and Lowe has a huge mountain range), so I have to write a few words about this subject. In my opinion this comparison is unnecessary and unfair to both series, because Lowe's series is totally different from Martin's series. I hope that people won't try to compare these two series.

As I already mentioned, The Heir of Night is the first book of The Wall of Night series. It introduces the places and characters to the readers. It also establishes a solid foundation for the forthcoming books, so there's a lot to look forward to. The second book, The Gathering of the Lost, will be published later.

Robin Hobb has already praised The Heir of Night by saying: "The Heir of Night by Helen Lowe is a richly told tale of strange magic, dark treachery and conflicting loyalties, set in a well realized world." I agree with her, because The Heir of Night is a richly told fantasy book and it deserves praise. I've read several traditional fantasy books, so I can say that The Heir of Night is a good book.

I enjoyed reading The Heir of Night and I'm looking forward to reading the second book, because it seems that Helen Lowe has a lot to offer to the fantasy genre. I've always liked this kind of well-thought traditional epic fantasy and I always will - just as long as there are good writers like Helen Lowe.

The Heir of Night is an excellent classic fantasy book for fantasy readers. I'm sure that fans of dark, epic and well written fantasy stories will love this book.
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on 25 August 2011
I always enjoy a story that draws me into the characters and the plot. This held my attention and continued to do so to the end. I have seen there is a sequel and will cetainly buy it in the hope it will continue in the same vein. Once you find a good story teller, they are worth sticking with.
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VINE VOICEon 6 June 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
A five star story and an interesting and enjoyable read. Much in the way of Trudi Canavan and Maria V. Snyder with a strong female lead character and a well realised environment, society and world. With a sometimes thought provoking and at times fantastical storyline and characters you care enough about to want to find out what happens to them. A good first book; I shall probably go on to buy the series.
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VINE VOICEon 18 August 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This was a good story which I found quite intense and confusing at times. However, you suddenly find yourself in the closing chapter and realise that you NEED TO READ THE NEXT BOOK NOW!!!!

This is the book's saving grace as the author has made the story so absorbing that you are pulled in without realising it. Definitely one to read for all fantasy fans
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