Nights of Villjamur, Mark Charan Newton, Ballantine Books, ISBN 978-0-345-52084-5, 437 pgs., $26.00

Ice age Earth at glacial maximum. Based on: &q...

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The city of Villjamur is home to thousands and capital of a mighty empire. But, things are changing; the darkness is coming and with it the cold and ice. As snow flies more frequently and as the ice begins to cover everything, people begin to flock to the city. Refugees gather outside the gates of a city that can not hold them and, from the perspective of many, should not even try. As a debate begins about what to do, the Emperor suddenly dies. A detail is sent out to gather the Emperor’s long estranged daughter as she is the heir. Along with her sister, the new queen struggles to come to grips with the politics and machinations of those born to power. She feels a certain kinship with those outside the gates and wants to do something. At the same time, her younger sister, long raised to entitlement, has come under the thrall of a new dance teacher who is not quite what he appears to be, although he does seem to know both the swordplay and the dance he is to teach her. While all this is beginning to play out, Inspector Rumex Jeryd, who is a rumel, a species of non-human that can live for hundreds of years, is tasked with investigating the murder of a councilor. As he begins his investigation he discovers layer and layer of deceit and misdirection, including some of it targeting him. Besides the humans and rumel in Villjamur, there are the birdlike garuda and the banshees whose cry always heralds death. All will be affected by the actions building within the city’s walls. Eventually all of the key players will also be threatened by this broad conspiracy and all must act in one form or another if they hope to survive.

Nights of Villjamur is Newton’s first novel and it is very well done. Newton’s universe (yeah, yeah, I know) is very complex and he presents it in a very understated way. His introduction of the rumel, for example, is through the interplay of the difference in longevity they have over humans and the conflicts such a difference can bring to such simple things as who gets promoted to a new position in the workplace. It is this understatement that pulls the reader deeper and deeper into the complexity of the city and the maneuverings of those who rule within the sheltering walls.

Newton’s writing style is both direct and straight forward, not leaving the reader to suppose what was meant but also not bringing everything to one’s attention all at once. Newton moves from character to character, pushing the story forward a part here and a part there and all the time developing an atmosphere that is consistent, moody and oppressive, as one would expect with an encroaching ice age at the door.

I enjoyed the book and Newton is working on a sequel which is good news as this first book leaves quite a few loose ends. Definitely recommended.

Click the link below to buy the book.

Nights of Villjamur (Legends of the Red Sun)

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About damnaliens
Writer, reviewer, home provider to the Damnaliens

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