Interesting, if a bit much to wade through at times. Lowe has good ideas, interesting characters, and a penchant for poetic, intricate prose that can be as much its downfall as its selling point.
I found the writing a little high-flown and overdone at times and at other times I just wanted the description to be over and we could get right down to the nitty gritty. That said, the politics, the world, the culture itself were richly done and made for a pleasurable read for the most part. I really felt that the story could have benefited from some hard trimming -- it would have made for a tighter story that read faster instead of sometimes being bogged down in too much detail.
The characters were larger than life, mostly in a good way, but sometimes they came across as either implausibly capable or bafflingly uninformed. Malian, for example, often asked questions that didn't make sense, concerning her status.
Personally, I find the usual "saving the world" trope combined with prophesied main characters and so forth just a little bit tiresome, but Lowe manages it with passable grace. I will also note that the unladylike main female character is just a wee bit used, but Malian isn't as irritating as she could be.
Fair entertainment and I'd be interesting in seeing how Lowe executes the sequel.
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.