BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Mark Charan Newton's City of Ruin.
Beneath a dying red sun sits the proud and ancient city of Villjamur, capital of a mighty empire where humans coexist with the birdlike garda race, the reptilian rumel who can live for hundreds of years, and the eerie banshees whose forlorn cries herald death. But now all life is threatened by an encroaching ice age. Throngs of refugees gather outside the city gates, while within, tragedy forces the Emperor’s elder daughter, Jamur Rika, to assume the throne. Joined by her younger sister, Jamur Eir, the new queen takes pity on the common people—and takes counsel from dashing teacher Randur Estevu, who is not what he seems. Meanwhile, a grisly murder draws rumel investigator Rumex Jeryd into a web of corruption—and an obscene conspiracy that imperils the lives of Rika and Eir and the future of Villjamur itself. But far north, where the drawn-out winter has already begun, an even greater danger appears, against which all the empire’s military and magical power may be useless—a threat from another world.
Newton opens a complex epic fantasy series with this impressive debut. The ancient fortress city of Villjamur is filled with human and nonhuman inhabitants, many of them refugees seeking shelter from a predicted decades-long ice age. The untimely death of the mad emperor Jamur Johynn forces his unworldly elder daughter, Rika, to assume the throne as her sister, Eir, gains a perspective beyond her palace walls and the members of the council make their own power plays. War and religious conflicts as well as more personal matters of desires for power and immortality set the scene for acts of compassion and betrayal. Newton handles his multilayered world and diverse cast of characters with the assurance of an experienced author and balances his fantasy tropes with elements of horror and political commentary in vividly descriptive, compelling prose.
This was a great book. I had a hard time putting it down! If you enjoy fantasy books with twists and turns, then this story is for you. It would make a great movie.