Days Dark as Night
Days Dark as Night is an entertaining read for readers who enjoy historical fantasy, especially on an epic level….The authors have good eyes for a story.
To read the entire, review click here. http://www.strangehorizons.com/2003/20031103/days_dark.shtml
As a first and rather obscure novel, I expected to dismiss Days as Dark as Night after a couple of chapters. Boy, was I wrong! Almost from page one, the characters, fast-paced story development, rich historical descriptions, and wonderful plot twists, combined to make this into a book that I literally couldn’t put down. It has a few flaws, including a couple of slightly preachy asides about how merciless the Catholic Church was to heretics, and a few mildly cheesy moments between the heroine and her love interest. Despite the minor quirks, this book was every bit as satisfying as a good meal!
Oxnard, CA (on Amazon.com)
First, full disclosure: one of the authors was a grade school classmate of mine with whom I had not spoken for 40 years. When we recently reconnected she told me about her book. I bought it out of curiosity and because I remembered how smart and creative she was in school. My expectation that she would write a smart and creative book was not disappointed. The story is set in the 13th century in a fictitious Northern European island kingdom. While the historical details are grounded in research, documented at the end of the book in an “Authors’ Note,” they don’t get in the way of a gripping story of a conquered people persecuted by their conquerors to the breaking point. When they mount a violent rebellion, led by a charismatic peasant girl and a young lord who breaks with his family to side with the rebels, you won’t be able to put the book down. In addition, there are fascinating excursions into medieval life describing feuding clans, relationships between lords and peasants, Christian heresies, wandering Jewish merchants, a weak king and clever, manipulative advisors. For those who like their stories spiced with some fantasy, there are some white-knuckle battles of the will between two magicians. Overall, this is a great read!
Palo Alto, CA (on Amazon.com)
My wife has a lot of medieval fantasy books. I don’t much like the genre. But Days Dark as Night is different; indeed, it can hardly be called fantasy. It’s much more historical fiction. That’s because, as in, say, The Winds of War, the fictional characters exist in a meticulously-researched real world. The history, mores, technology, and language of the 13th century are painted vividly into this book. On top of that, you get a strong female lead character, but not one whose ideas are 700 years ahead of her time. So often, women in period fantasy seem like they were pasted in from Redbook. The heroine in Days Dark as Night is a) not an Amazon and b) motivated by her own experiences. She is conscious of inequities of the system but not on an anachronistic political rampage.
So you really get two books here. One is a medieval fantasy piece with believable characters, both good and evil. The other is a fascinating work of history. They just happen to come in one cover for your convenience. That’s quite a find!
Alexandria, VA (on amazon.com)
This is an historically very well researched and still very exciting story of war and magic, religion and the lust for power, loyalty and betrayal, oppression and revolt, ideas, passion, love and revenge – all brought to life with good horses, broad swords, a beautiful powerful heroine, a strong handsome hero, a cool dwarf and yes, even an evil Cardinal and a couple of nice wandering Jews. The authors have done a good job fleshing out these and a variety of other characters, high and low, and furnishing their daily lives amidst the dramatic plots and historic events that drive the story. Watching the heroine’s power and wisdom (and not coincidentally, her beauty) grow with experience is particularly satisfying. Also nicely done is how the importance of magic is handled – we don’t know whether the magic is “real” or whether its power derives from the characters’ belief in it, but either way it has real consequences in people’s lives that could be sometimes as long and slow as the seasons and sometimes – often – noble, brutal, and short.
Washington, DC (on Barnes&Noble.com)