In the frozen north of a far-flung world lies Villiren, a city plagued by violent gangs and monstrous human/animal hybrids, stalked by a serial killer, and targeted by an otherworldly army. Brynd Lathraea has brought his elite Night Guard to help Villiren build a fighting force against the invaders. But success will mean dealing with the half-vampyre leader of the savage Bloods gang. Meanwhile, reptilian rumel investigator Rumex Jeryd has come seeking refuge from Villjamur’s vindictive emperor—only to find a city riddled with intolerance between species, indifference to a murderer’s reign of terror, and the powerful influence of criminals. As the enemy prepares to strike, and Villiren’s defenders turn on each other, three refugees—deposed empress Jamur Rika, her sister Eir, and the scholar Randur Estevu—approach the city. And with them they bring a last, desperate hope for survival . . . and a shocking revelation that will change everything.
The ambitious second installment in Newton's Legends of the Red Sun dark epic fantasy series (after 2010's Nights in Villjamur) contains some deeply weird moments. The corrupt city of Villiren is now home to a number of refugees from the capital, including Investigator Rumex Jeryd and Cmdr. Brynd Lathraea of the elite Night Guard. The residents are more focused on internal affairs, like the rash of mysterious disappearances, than on the encroaching alien army allied with the exiled former empress. Labor issues, mad scientists and their creations, racial and religious intolerance, and extradimensional travelers all contribute to the elaborate canvas of the story. Great balanced battle scenes, offering both individual perspectives and sweeping overviews, leave a sense of lingering horror. While the novel's reach may exceed its grasp, the expanded world and its inhabitants are consistently compelling.