Despite being aware of the author for some time now, I’ve never picked up one of L. Rowyn’s books before. …Well, that’s not entirely true. Like so many books I’ve been recommended, a few of her books have lived on my Kindle for some time now and just have never been read. But as I’ve said that 2019 was going to be the year I started cleaning some of this out, I figured this was a good place to start.
BE FOREWARNED, LUMINARIES. I WAS UP UNTIL 2:30 IN THE MORNING READING THIS BOOK.
I will admit, the beginning of the book was a little slow and I wasn’t sure it was going to drag me in. The necessary bits of exposition to set up the character and world–while well-written–weren’t making me root for the characters in question as much as I wanted to be. There was also the fact that between chapters, as the viewpoint shifted, it also changed from 3rd to 1st person, which was jarring when unexpected, but actually quite useful once I got used to it. We follow two characters: Sir Damon Kildare, a warlock who is really good at “folding” (imagine putting point A and point B on two sides of a paper, and then folding it together to get you from point A to B faster–that’s it) but not especially good any anything else; and Zenobia Gardsmark, who is the daughter of the last surviving dragonslayer and really really really wants to be a sorceress.
I find it verging on impossible to talk about this book without spoiling something. This is a book that made me sit up and say “OH” more times than any other five books I’ve read recently together. There is foreshadowing you won’t see until you’ve closed the book and realized it was there from early on. Kildare (and his immensely charming focus, a hare by the name of Madden of Emrys) is faced with an infernal challenge, of which a part is to find silver scales from a living dragon–but of course, all the dragons are dead, so this does not seem like a challenge he’s going to be able to meet. But as the tagline from the cover says: he’s had his whole life to save his soul from damnation…and he’s running out of time.
It’s glorious. The characters are real and flawed, relatable and charming, broken and determined. Religion in used as both balm and buffer, not afraid to show the unfortunate sides of devotion but also refusing to shy from the truths of it. There is no strong or weak distinction; these are living people who can both save themselves and others regardless of gender role. There is romance but you’re never beaten about the head and shoulders with it. It’s clever, and heartbreaking, and astounding.
As I said: I read about the first 10 chapters in one sitting, sat down a few days later around 8:00 pm to read again, and couldn’t put it back down until I’d finished at 2:30 am. Once this book gets going, you cannot pause it in motion.
I was left at the end with a desperate feeling of “BUT BUT BUT I MUST KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NOW” but can also admit that if there was no second book, it would be a satisfying ending. Bia and Kildare both come to the end of their arcs, but there is so much more beyond you know must happen. And as luck would have it, it appears the author believed the same, as GOLDEN COILS came out as a follow-up piece which I intend to devour as soon as possible. (The benefit of coming late to the party!)
I will absolutely, 100% recommend anything Rowyn has written, based on this alone. But start here. For the love of all that’s holy, read this one. For Kildare’s sake. He’s so good. So good.
Rating: ***** (Highest Recommendation)