Books

SCI-FI AND FANTASY

SCI-FI AND FANTASY

A Day Of Fallen Night by Samantha Shannon (Bloomsbury £18.99, 880pp)

A Day Of Fallen Night

by Samantha Shannon (Bloomsbury £18.99, 880pp)

Like all the greats, Samantha Shannon has built a world with geography, rules that govern its characters’ lives and, above all, a history.

In this prequel to The Priory Of The Orange Tree, earth- shattering events have been rendered into myth, dimly perceived through the past’s dark lens. Back then, a great destructive force arose and was defeated; now that same force is threatening the world — but has the world forgotten? Miraculously pacy, given its thumping scale, this is another gorgeous, glittering epic as a priestess with mysterious parentage, a reluctant princess and a warrior nun are swept up in the narrative.

And there’s magic, high politics, base betrayals, noble sacrifices and dragons. Lots of dragons . . .

Godkiller by Hannah Kaner (Harper Voyager £16.99, 304pp)

Godkiller

by Hannah Kaner (Harper Voyager £16.99, 304pp)

In Middren, gods are parasitical entities that leach off the love of their followers, hoarding their offerings greedily. There are big gods (fortune and war) and small gods (shoe-mending and baking). And then there are the veigas — godkillers by any other name.

This is a wonderful, gritty, explosively violent and beautifully realised debut built around a mismatched trio’s classic quest.

Fighting their way across a bleak landscape are Kissen, an angry, one-legged, unexpectedly sexy godkiller; Elogast, a handsome disillusioned knight; and Inara, orphaned child of a noble house with her own pet god to deal with. He’s furry and cute as hell but, as the god of white lies, a tricky companion.

Hell bent by Leigh Bardugo (Gollancz £20, 496pp)

Hell bent

by Leigh Bardugo (Gollancz £20, 496pp)

If Lev Grossman collaborated with Donna Tartt, you’d hope they’d come up with something half as good as Hell Bent.

The title gives the story away. Galaxy Stern, a messy, murdering, ghost-whispering Yale undergrad, is trying to retrieve her mentor from hell and won’t let anything stand in her way.

This is a Yale of secret clubs, academic bitchiness and a form of ceremonial magic that relies on viscerally cruel sacrifice.

We believe in it utterly because the narrative — terse, elliptical and unfussy — treats us like adults, almost as if we’re initiates in these dark and complex mysteries.

This worthy sequel to the best-selling Ninth House will leave fans happy and new- comers bewitched.

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