Fantasy, High Fantasy
Nevernight, Book # 1
St. Martin's Press
August 9th 2016
January 4, 2020 January 8, 2020
In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.
Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.
Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church. If she bests her fellow students in contests of steel, poison and the subtle arts, she’ll be inducted among the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the vengeance she desires. But a killer is loose within the Church’s halls, the bloody secrets of Mia’s past return to haunt her, and a plot to bring down the entire congregation is unfolding in the shadows she so loves.
Will she even survive to initiation, let alone have her revenge?
About the book
How can I talk about this magnificence with my stuttering English? It is impossible to put on “paper” all the emotions, feelings, anxiety and anger (good anger) that this book gave me.
This is a fantasy world, an earth with three suns that never set and the night comes once in a blue moon (about every two years). The main character is Mia Corvere, a 16-year-old girl who had a trauma 6 years before when she saw her father being hanged because he was accused of being a conspirator against the Republic of Itreya (the name of this world) and her mother, with her infant brother, was imprisoned in the Philosopher’s Stone, the over populated prison in Godsgrave, the capital of the reign. Mia swore vengeance against the 4 men responsible for her family’s destruction and she’s studying to be admitted in a clandestine school, the Red Church, to become an assassin. In this first book we follow her “adventures” in the school, while having some flashbacks of her previous life.
What I think
I loved the book, the twist at the end was a surprise for me because the author was so good in misdirection that my attention wasn’t on the right stuff but on the rest of the tale.
I need to say that the finale was a little predictable, as soon as the “twist” happened I knew what was going to happen but it was at a point where it was fine for me to know, so I can’t give less stars or say the book wasn’t good enough. Because as I said, the twist was in the final chapters and not by the half of the book. I believe a book is mediocre if I find out everything by the half way (or even worse, even before), but not here. It’s true that I knew what was going to happen but I was already in the resolution part of the book so it wasn’t a bed thing. Characters are well described and delineated and the author’s style is phenomenal. I usually don’t like footnotes, thanks to all the epic poems and ancient Italian books I had to read during school, but here, oh boy! I loved them. In the footnotes the author explain Itreya’s history, about the monarchy that was in place a long time before and he tells some anecdotes that are so hilarious that make you forget that the books talks about assassins.
Now, the three suns. This world with its three suns is spectacular. I don’t know what I would do with a perpetual light, because I think I’d go crazy. I already don’t understand how people can live in the arctic night or day, even if I’d like to experimenter it once in my life, only once. But I digress. Even if I’d hate living in this world, I love it, I love the fact that there are three suns, colourful suns, and that every two or so years the night comes and everyone goes crazy.
More over I like the fact that the names are more or less “Italian” and I don’t think it’s only in my translated version. And then I like that there is Latin (I loved Latin in school) and that this world resemble Ancient Rome. And apparently the author was inspired by Ancient Rome and Venice (I read about this in the Acknowledgements page, but now I know for sure from Goodreads).
Mia is the main character and the most important of the whole story. She is a well structured character, so much that you can forget that she is an assassin. I’m not saying that this is a justification, I don’t want to talk about the dilemma of “killing bad guys is right or wrong”, I can skip all the killings and all the blood thanks to her well structured characterisation. Or maybe I’m a little bid sadistic and I like blood. But only on paper! I’m afraid of my shadow in real life (but not blood).
More over Mia isn’t a “normal” character and we don’t know what or who she is, she also doesn’t know why certain things happen to her. And this is something to praise the author about.
The cat, non-cat? Don’t know how to call it in English, the cat is wonderful, the only real friend that Mia has since she lost her family and I hope he will be her friend till the end of the series (but since the books are narrated by him, I believe so).
The rest of the characters are well defined and everyone has a reason to be at that school or better, everyone has their own ideas about the meaning of being an assassins.
First conclusion no spoiler
The book is a must read. I hope the other two will be like this one or better and I like to suggest its reading to people who like “chosen ones” tropes, but chosen ones that have something different. Now I’m not going to say what in this part of the review because this is spoiler free but there is a reason why I love Mia and why I think she is different.
Now if you have not read the book please do not read from here on, I will say some spoilers because I need to put certain things that happened in the book in black and white.
Mia. As said I love her. The fact that she is not a “normal” human but a tenebris is what attracted me about her in the first place. I had never met a character who can play with shadows and therefore, for me, this is new. She also reminds me a little of Amani, of Rebel of the Sands, who doesn’t know what she really is, but who can play with sand (and even there, her character was magnificent). But Mia isn’t or doesn’t become a “simple murderer”. Usually the concept of a killer is synonymous with a psychopath who kills for no reason. But here, we see a complex character, who has sworn revenge, who makes mistakes and who learns from them. Also a character who feels sad for those whom she kills. The scene that struck me most was the test before the initiation in which a boy about her age, an innocent boy, is in front of her. What she does makes her different from all the others and that’s what will allow her to prevail.
Chapter 29, Solis’ test, is the most satisfying chapter of the whole book. How Mia manages to “win” and the fact that she wins over that person… I’ve been expecting that for a long time (since the introduction of her character). But I loved the fact that at the end they “bury the hatchet” to save the Church.
And now we come to chapter 31. God I never thought of that person being a spy or traitor. And of course, as soon as I understood that that person has betrayed everyone, I asked myself about the “trinity” and damn hell if that person pulled it out at the right time (or wrong, it depends on your point of view).
The ending… or rather the epilogue. I wasn’t expecting it. I knew Mia had promised but I didn’t remember it, seeing that, as said at the beginning, the author is good at making you forget important details.
Second conclusion with spoilers
Anyway, as I said in the conclusion without spoilers, I recommend this book to anyone who likes fantasy, obviously, who likes history that is different from ours and who likes the fact that there is a character who is chosen for a purpose (the chosen one) but that is different than usual. Because Mia doesn’t know she has all this power (I mean, she killed almost 100 men alone), but she also has a heart. Yes, she is a murderer, but it is that type of a killer (which I have already seen in another book) who cries while she kills (obviously figuratively).