S.L. Farrell continues to demonstrate his facility for creating wondrous worlds peopled with believable characters. In his epic fantasy A Magic of Twilight he adeptly combines the traditional church versus state struggles with elements of mysticism and fanaticism, creating a fascinating millieu of intrigue and betrayal. The complexity of presenting a coherent story through constantly shifting viewpoints would seem to be an overwhelming task but the reader is deftly guided through the remarkable city of Nessantico as seen through the eyes of a young gifted student of the Ilmodo, Ana. Singled out for her remarkable talent at manipulating several different aspects of Ilmodo, Ana comes to the attention of the greatest practitioner of her art but quickly gets sucked into the maelstrom of politics that surrounds him. Heretics within the city, threats to the ruler’s life and actions by unruly allies converge to undermine the decades of peace previously enjoyed by the inhabitants of Nessantico. Ana is thrust into a role that she is ill-prepared for but must learn to master her faith and amazing talent to save the world that she is accustomed to. Not only must she navigate the treacherous shoals of Court life but she must learn to distinguish who is worthy of her trust and support while the very walls of the city tremble under assault from its enemies.
A Magic of Twilight was an entertaining melange of history and fantasy intertwined with descriptions of a city reminiscent of regions of Italy and France. The intricate caste system with the constant jockeying for position, juxtaposition of venial and mortal sins and contrast between a warmongering society and the peaceful neighbor it seeks to subjugate all combine to create an enthralling tale that one is reluctant to see end. The sequel, set some years in the future, may engender more questions than answers but hopefully will help assuage the hunger for more tales of Ana and her associates.
The breathtaking first novel in a brilliant new fantasy series
A masterwork of fantasy, The Nessantico Cycle is the epic tale of an empire at its height, yet poised on the brink of what could be a devastating descent into ruin. Told from the viewpoints of numerous characters, it is a sweeping saga of murder and magic (portrayed both as a powerful religion and a forbidden art), of deception and betrayal, of Machiavellian politics, star-crossed lovers, and a realm facing war on every front.