The Dying Sun tells the story of an empire at the end of a dynasty, a world on the verge of a new age. Priestesses of the Old Gods have escaped their enchanted prison and seek royal aid in releasing their masters. The High Priest of the Akhenic Temple, faithful to the One God, denies the existence of other gods and demands a holy inquisition to destroy the Pantheon Cult; while a young Shah seeks to hold his empire together as rebellion threatens to crumble it.
I was given this hefty eARC by L.J. Stanton the first book in a planned trilogy. Obviously this does not affect my review. Unfortunately this took me a while to begin. I quickly realised that I really should have read this book much earlier as it was a fantastic read from beginning to end.
At times it can be difficult to get into a new book, so it speaks wonders when a book captures the reader early on, and I think this is one of the most important aspects of writing. Luckily, The Dying Sun managed to do just that! The writing in this book is fantastic and really captured me as a reader. At times it could be a bit too descriptive, but mostly it helped create vivid images of the world it is set in.
The Dying Sun is set in a Middle Eastern world with a deep and interesting culture. I’m guilty of reading way too many fantasy novels set in medieval Europe type settings, so this was a hugely refreshing change for me, and one I enjoyed immensely! The world-building itself was very interesting and I actually wanted to learn about the background of characters and events. Yes at times it was a bit overwhelming, especially in regards to new names, so do keep this in mind!
The strongest aspect of this novel was definitely its unique and morally ambiguous characters. Merikh, a conservative monarch and Loralee who played a more liberal role really spring to mind. All the characters complemented each other in fascinating ways and really played into each other’s character development. I especially enjoyed Merikh and Loralees relationship, which felt very different to the usual love hate relationship. What also made the characters stand out in this book was their very real issues and how the dealt with them. Merikh dealth with a violent past and problems with PTSD, while Loralee dealt with issues of identity and coming to terms with being married off to Merikh. Some of the minor main characters were also interesting but it wasn’t until later on in the story that we saw more of their development, especially in Adrian. The characters in The Dying Sun really did shine and were probably the biggest reason I loved this story.
In terms of plot, although I enjoyed it the whole way through, it did take a while to pick up. There was much more of a focus on the political intrigue and religions problems. I definitely got Game of Thrones vibes! It wasn’t until half way through the book that things really picked up, and boy they did. I won’t go into any detail here, rather motivate the reader to keep reading.
As a final mention, I have to say the magic system in this novel felt very unique and gritty, in that it wasn’t the usual “Oh I’m a mage so I an do magic.”
Very much looking forward to seeing where this series goes. I highly recommend this to anyone who wants something aside from the usual fantasy, set in a unique universe, with a unique magic system and fantastic characters who deal with real world issues.