Heir of Night – Helen Lowe

About the book

If Night falls, all fall…

In the far north of the world of Haarth lies the bitter mountain range known as the Wall of Night. Garrisoned by the Nine Houses of the Derai, the Wall is the final bastion between the peoples of Haarth and the Swarm of Dark – which the Derai have been fighting across worlds and time.

Malian, Heir to the House of Night, knows the history of her people: the unending war with the Darkswarm; the legendary heroes, blazing with long-lost power; the internal strife that has fractured the Derai’s former strength. But now the Darkswarm is rising again, and Malian’s destiny as Heir of Night is bound inextricably to both ancient legend and any future the Derai – or Haarth – may have.

480 pages (paperback)
Published on Sep. 28, 2010
Published by Harper Voyager
Author’s webpage

This book was borrowed from the local library.

You can purchase this book by clicking on the following links: The Heir of Night: The Wall of Night Book One, The Heir of Night: The Wall of Night Book One (kindle)

Heir of Night was another book (in what is becoming a long list of books) I started reading because I followed the author on Twitter and she seemed rather interesting. I didn’t know what to expect, and I think that’s half the fun with books I just randomly pick up off of library shelves. Would the book be as interesting as the author seems to be? Hmm…

Heir of Night starts with a fairly stereotypical epic fantasy setting dealing with castles, noblemen, kings and the like. One of the main characters is (also fairly stereotypical) the heir (hence the title Heir of Night). When I first started reading this book, I had to admit I had some moments of fear that I would be reading the same-old-same-old twisted slightly by the ministrations of a new author. The truth is that while many of the aspects of Heir of Night are fairly been-there-done-that, Lowe layered her world masterfully.

Beneath all the dresses, posturing and various crises, Lowe has created a really vivid world with a surprisingly rich history and complex culture, the depth of which honestly surprised me. I wasn’t expecting it when I realized how many aspects of the story (on the surface) seemed to be so cookie cutter. Besides that, Heir of Night has all the aspects every epic fantasy fan desires in their books. There are battles, prophecies, blood feuds and a nice detailed history.

Heir of Night switches between several primary perspectives, the first and most noteworthy is Malian, who is (almost) thirteen, and Kalan who is slightly older than Malian, but not by much. I’m not sure how well such a young person worked in this sort of book. There were some leaps of logic that seemed to defy their ages and caused me to have problems with their believability. However, this will help younger readers enjoy the book more, while readers (like myself) might find themselves having issues with protagonists so young. Juxtaposed with this are several other very well done characters who are placed at various levels of society. This gives the reader good insight into what is happening based on the very different positions the main characters hold.

As I mentioned above, the protagonists are rather young and Lowe does a wonderful job showing how Malian and Kalan both discover more about who they are as the novel progresses. This leads me to believe that the reader will experience Malian and Kalan (the “chosen ones” in a Robert Jordan sort of way) as they grow and develop into their true potential. I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t appeal there that will keep me reading the series.

While magic does play a big role in the book, Lowe does a great job at showing how magic has a price and there are consequences for actions. These simple rules are something that I find missing in some epic fantasy I’ve read. The action-consequence makes the world and the magic that fills it so much more believable, as Lowe shows that nothing is perfect, not even magic. There are drawbacks to every course of action. This is something our young protagonists learn as they fight and run hoards of Darkswarm.

Before I leave this review, I need to touch on Lowe’s incredible ability to use atmosphere as a wonderful plot device. There are scenes in Heir of Night that are absolutely haunting, or amazingly intense. It’s quite incredible that Lowe has succeeded in using atmosphere so memorably in this book, and I’m sure that most people who read Heir of Night will find themselves enjoying various scenes for no other reason than the atmosphere the author uses is incredible.

At the end of the day, Heir of Night is an interesting mix of pleasant surprises and disappointments. There are lots of aspects of this book that have a very been-there-done-that feel, like prophesies, chosen ones, royalty and the like. However, beneath all this is a very well wrought world with an impressively rich and layered history. While the protagonists are young (making me think this is more of a crossover YA/adult novel than anything else – and no, there is nothing wrong with that), it will be interesting to watch them grow and develop as the series progresses. Furthermore, Lowe is a master of using atmosphere to further her plot. So yes, there are issues with Heir of Night, specifically with the fact that it felt just a little too comfortable, but there is plenty to enjoy as well.


3.5/5 stars

One Responses

  • I do think that Lowe as an author does have room to grow and improve her craft. And given that her first novel was straight out YA, I wasn’t surprised that this was quasi-YA.

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