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Last Song Before Night
by Ilana C. Myer
Tor, $26.99, 415 pp
Published: September 2015

This was a very satisfying fantasy from first-time novelist, Ilana C. Myer.

Set in the world of Eivar where Poets are the ones who have the most coveted positions in society. They are trained on the lonely rock of Academy Isle and compete to win the position of Court Poet and the coveted Silver Branch.

The history of Eivar is riddled with powerful poets and Seers who left their marks on society. And in this tale we deal with several of them. The focus, the quest here, is to find the mysterious Path which can lead to things back in order. The Poets have been banned for ages from performing Enchantments. But now they are needed.

Because, of course, there is a great evil in the heart of the city of Tamryllin (where the king rules) and a cadre of poets and young women work to uncover and destroy it before their whole world is plunged into terrible plague and darkness.  The characters here are complex, layered and fascinating. There’s Rianna Gelvan and Lin (short for Kimbralin Amaristoth) who has one of THE nastiest brothers I’ve read of in a long, long, long time. Rayen Amaristoth has a terrific dark, ugly history and now has an evil agenda that’s a whopper and he and Nickon Gerrard (the current Court Poet) really have a vicious plan in the works involving long-banned divination by blood.

Then we have Marlen and Darien who have been poets and friends a long time and had every intention (and the skill needed) to win the coveted Silver Branch. But right before the contest, Darien goes rogue, commits outrageous treason and Marlen is forced to perform on his own---but still winning the contest.

But now these two friends are on opposite sides and their trials and journeys are the heart of the matter, along with the intermittent help/appearance of a long quiet Poet and Seer Valanir Ocune.

The two women, Rianna and Lin go from the world of cloistered high-born ladies to roughing it on the road, (and learning to use a dagger to lethal purpose) to discover not only their inner hearts, but the ones of those they love. The search by Darien and Lin for the Path, the struggles of Rianna with her brother and who does Rianna truly love? Darien or Ned Altarra long-time childhood friend who was betrothed to her—before everything went bad.  Their paths are terrifying and give us a great view of life in Eivar and the status of Poets.

The struggle to put everything on the right path is not only harrowing, but exposes long hidden evil deeds.  A terrific first fantasy from Myer. I recommend it highly. ~~ Sue Martin

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