Just two days ago, in my Monday post on the fantasy debut The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps, I noted that Tor has brought us some strong debuts over the past 18 months. And now here’s another promising fantasy debut from Ilana C. Myer, a high fantasy that tells the tale of a young woman who dares to defy a culture that says that only men can be poets and set their work to music, and who undertakes a dangerous quest to restore her world’s lost magic.
Her name was Kimbralin Amaristoth: sister to a cruel brother, daughter of a hateful family. But that name she has forsworn, and now she is simply Lin, a musician and lyricist of uncommon ability in a land where women are forbidden to answer such callings — a fugitive who must conceal her identity or risk imprisonment and even death.
On the eve of a great festival, Lin learns that an ancient scourge has returned to the land of Eivar, a pandemic both deadly and unnatural. Its resurgence brings with it the memory of an apocalypse that transformed half a continent. Long ago, magic was everywhere, rising from artistic expression — from song, from verse, from stories. But in Eivar, where poets once wove enchantments from their words and harps, the power was lost. Forbidden experiments in blood divination unleashed the plague that is remembered as the Red Death, killing thousands before it was stopped, and Eivar’s connection to the Otherworld from which all enchantment flowed, broken.
The Red Death’s return can mean only one thing: someone is spilling innocent blood in order to master dark magic. Now poets who thought only to gain fame for their songs face a challenge much greater: galvanized by Valanir Ocune, greatest Seer of the age, Lin and several others set out to reclaim their legacy and reopen the way to the Otherworld — a quest that will test their deepest desires, imperil their lives, and decide the future.
Last Song Before Night will be published by Tor Books on September 29, 2015. It is 416 pages, priced at $26.99 in hardcover, and $12.99 for the digital version. The cover is by Stephan Martiniere. Read more at Myer’s website here.