Magic has made the city of Tiran an industrial utopia, but magic has a cost—and the collectors have come calling.
An orphan since the age of four, Sciona has always had more to prove than her fellow students. For twenty years, she has devoted every waking moment to the study of magic, fueled by a mad desire to achieve the impossible: to be the first woman ever admitted to the High Magistry. When she finally claws her way up the ranks to become a highmage, however, she finds that her challenges have just begun. Her new colleagues will stop at nothing to let her know she is unwelcome, beginning with giving her a janitor instead of a qualified lab assistant.
What neither Sciona nor her peers realize is that her taciturn assistant was once more than a janitor; before he mopped floors for the mages, Thomil was a nomadic hunter from beyond Tiran’s magical barrier. Ten years have passed since he survived the perilous crossing that killed his family. But working for a highmage, he sees the opportunity to finally understand the forces that decimated his tribe, drove him from his homeland, and keep the Tiranish in power.
Through their fractious relationship, mage and outsider uncover an ancient secret that could change the course of magic forever—if it doesn’t get them killed first. Sciona has defined her life by the pursuit of truth, but how much is one truth worth with the fate of civilization in the balance?
A standalone dark academia brimming with mystery, tragedy, and the damning echoes of the past. For fans of Leigh Bardugo, V. E. Schwab, and Fullmetal Alchemist.
This book is a dark academia, high fantasy story set in the city of Tiran; an industrial utopia. The city is powered by magic, protected from the harsh ‘blight’ outside the city by a forcefield. The citizens enjoy all the modern luxuries while the refugees from outside are taken in as workers to power the factories etc that run the city.
This book is a standalone novel and fairly average in length for a fantasy story. Despite this the author expertly fits in not only a wonderful story but well written characters, some heavy themes and philosophical thoughts, mystery, tragedy and a whole lot of heart. It does not have anything too graphic but some of the themes are quite brutal and harsh.
I read Wang’s other novel, The Sword of Kaigen, earlier this year and like so many others found it to be absolutely wonderful. It seems this was not a fluke. Blood Over Bright Haven is easily just as masterful.
The characters we follow are Sciona, a student at the university training to be a High Mage, and well on her way to becoming the first ever female admitted to the High Magistery. We also follow Thomil, a janitor. Both main characters are developed so well over the story. Their drastically different backgrounds, points of view and life circumstances come to a head and both of them burrowed their way into my heart across the course of this novel. The side characters were not quite as deeply covered as the main two. However, I personally felt engaged both store-wise and emotionally the whole time.
The themes covered include legacy, history, echoes of the past, revenge, love, sacrifice and intense prejudice. In the short-ish amount of pages this book has I was blown away by how the author delves into such deep and tragic themes so well. You could say that at first the ideas of high class vs lower class is a bit of a derivative theme but I personally found that I could not put this book down. I devoured it in a matter of days and am still thinking about it, weeks after I finished. The pacing is done really well I think and the magic system is quite detailed but easy to follow if that’s not your sort of thing.
I also just want to say how happy I am to have another amazing standalone fantasy book. As much as I love a series, standalone books are something I need more of.
As I sort of predicted, this book emotionally wrecked me. Just like The Sword of Kaigen, except not quite as intense. I loved everything about this book and ML Wang is easily making her way to my favourite new author of the year.