PrintE-mail Written by Ed Fortune

Assassins are an odd focus for fantasy stories. After all, someone who will kill for cash has to be a pretty reprehensible sort of human being. However, fantasy literature does love its mysterious figures, and assassins lurk in shadows professionally.

Jay Kristoff’s Nevernight is the tale of one such hired killer. The book’s main protagonist is Mia Corvere, a young lady who witnessed her father being executed for high treason. Bitter, angry and unable to find anyone who will help or explain why this has come to pass, Mia hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god. Luckily for Mia, she has a gift for the shadows; she can talk to them and they will help her out. This leads her to the Red Church; a faith of blood and death, an assassin’s guild in all but name.

For Mia to join the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder and become the tool of vengeance she needs to be; in order to avenge her father, she has to best her fellow students. Final exams in the church are exactly that. Alas, all is not that ordered in the church. Unsanctioned killing haunts the halls and someone is murdering murderers, making Mia’s job all the harder. It’s a gripping read, though a pretty dense one as well.

Kristoff relies heavily on angst, drama and a broken main character to carry his story forward. He also leaves an awful lot of foot notes. This is a little intimidating at first and almost feels like everything the kitchen sink is being thrown at the reader. Once you get into the rhythm of the thing, however you will be enveloped in the world.

Kristoff is better known for his Young Adult fiction. His science fiction series The Illuminae Files has been optioned for a movie by Brad Pitt’s company, Plan B Entertainment. Nevernight is markedly not aimed at the young; it’s creepy, violent and has some very energetic sex scenes all the way through.  Its tone is markedly adult and informed and Kristoff has clearly thrown all his engines into making this book big in every possible way. It’s long, highly detailed, complicated, is set in a weird world where the sun almost always shines and delves into topics as complex as the moralities of murder and loyalty to church and state. We predict it’s also going to be big with fantasy fans; there’s a lot to this book and many of us will be going on about it for a while.

If you love Robin Hobb or George R. R. Martin, you will adore Jay Kritsoff's Nevernight. It has similar themes and is very heavy on the world building. It doesn’t quite reach the heights of Hobb’s Farseer trilogy in terms of emotional punch, but Kristoff has delivered a strong and interesting world which readers will find engaging and fun none the less.



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