BOOK REVIEW: SON OF THE MORNING / AUTHOR: MARK ALDER / PUBLISHER: GOLLANCZ / RELEASE DATE: APRIL 17TH
Mark Alder’s Son of the Morning is set within the first few years of the 100 years’ war which saw the battle for possession of France. The novel is the first in the Banners of Blood series and is a historical fantasy of epic proportions. The story allows many historical characters to take centre stage, from King Edward III to Philip Valois. Mark Alder has successfully found a unique point in history and has been able to merge it with a fantasy element that is unfortunately missing from many epic fantasy novels. Alder has chosen to create an original piece of historical fantasy by placing angels, demons and devils in the 14th century. The way these figures play a role within the story is truly unique, with Philip Valois having the power to summon angels to assist him in his ongoing war. However, Edward III is unable to summon his own angels, even though they should respond to him as King. This makes way for political court intrigue, deceit, revenge and a boy strongly believing in luciferism who will play an important role in the battle for the throne.
The novel allows for the development of a story that is well paced and full of intriguing characters. Many epic fantasy novels are now focused on the power of magic and the act of revenge, however Alder has been able to come up with an original story set within a historical setting. Still, there is a small downfall to the writing; the world-building has a minimalistic role within the novel. The author’s approach is to jump straight into the storytelling, focusing on developing the characters and ignoring the readers need to know the physical and emotional setting of the novel.
Son of the Morning, however, is a truly great accomplishment from Mark Alder. Debut fantasy novels are unlikely to get better than this. Although it may have its flaws, they are greatly outweighed by the quality of the overall story and the captivating characters. Joe Abercrombie and Mark Lawrence fans should rejoice as Alder enters the fantasy genre with a novel that is a great start to an epic fantasy series. Mark Alder is an author to watch out for as his Banners of Blood story continues.
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