Make no mistake. If epic fantasy with magic, morally grey characters, settings that are inspired by Ancient Greece (lands, times and political intrigue), tightly bound siblings, racial and sexual diversity, beautiful dialogue, and fast-paced action is your kind of story? Beautifully written prose that snarls elegantly? Clear your calendar. Get comfortable. You won’t be able to put it down.
Thank You To Henry Holt and Edelweiss for an ARC in exchange for an honest review
You are Graced or you aren’t. That is the magic system Pool lays out. Four orders of the Graced are given:
- Grace of Heart
- Grace of Blood
- Grace of Mind
- Grace of Sight
I won’t go into all the splendid details, and they are splendid, because #readthebook. However, it is a detailed and fantastic magical system. It was an easy buy-in and the twisted link of dark magic, those that would eradicate from the world and those destined to protect it all fit together.
The Graced are battling the Witnesses, led by the Hierophant, who is working to convince everyone that the Graced are plagues on society. This will gain him support to wage war and wipe them out. There are those, seen and unseen that are willing to come to the defense of the Graced.
Recently having seized control of Herat, taking the King and Queen (both Graced) capture and driving Prince Hassan out, the Hierophant, is now looking to expand his war throughout the lands.
Pool fearlessly and without sacrificing the break-neck pacing of the story, lays the overarching theme of free-will verse destiny that dates back to Oedipus. She does it without falling into the temptation of providing an answer. Instead, Pool leaves the reader to draw their own conclusion.
An array of authentic but deeply flawed, beautifully painted characters face these dilemmas throughout There Will Come a Darkness, and it is the character’s inner conflict that determine their actual or perceived choices. I say perceived because some of those choices for some of the characters will lead them exactly where they should have been, and for some, maybe not. To Pool’s credit that leads readers back to the theme to determine where they stand on free-will vs destiny in this story.
Incredibly, the characters and the plot are driven forward by these inner conflicts:
- Loyalty vs. Honor
- Self-doubt vs. Perseverance,
- Truth vs. Perception
- Sacrifice vs. Selfishness
- Duty vs. Want
Your heart will crack for each character at their lowest points and sing for them at their highest points.
The sibling bond between Ephyra and Beru will, if you are the youngest in your family, have you wondering if you could trade in your older sibling for Ephyra. The lengths that she goes through to keep her and Beru together are inspiring. Beru changes and grows in her ability to accept the shifting course of her life throughout the book.
Hassan is a prince without a Kingdom. It is his country of Herat that the Hierophant just conquered. Hassan’s parents, the King and Queen, are now imprisoned and his people made refugees.
He is desperate to help them and find a way to reclaim his country. Not being Graced torments him. Being in exiled and under the care of his Aunt Lethia frustrates him. Hassan is trying to find his place and do right by his people.
Anton is a hapless and quick-witted boy who is running from his past and a dangerous memory he cannot forget. Going from city to city, job to job, card game to card game, Anton is in survival mode. Funny, charming and scared as all get-out, Anton doesn’t know what lies ahead, only why he can’t turn back.
Hector has come home to the Order of the Light after a respite, hoping to have a place next to the Keeper of the Word. He is ready to take an oath and pledge his loyalty. The Order of the Light will find the Last Prophet and stop the Witnesses before they do irrevocable damage. The Keeper of the Word is destined to lead them and protect the Last Prophet at all cost.
Jude. My heart. I cannot express the love for which I have for this character. At his worst and his best, I wanted him to have everything. In his most self-loathing times and at his strongest, I was rooting for him at every turn.
I rarely equivocate characters. It just isn’t in my nature as a reader. However, at some point in There Will Come a Darkness, the cross of self-doubt, inability to believe he could fulfill what was demanded of him, his want to run away from who his was, and misunderstanding of intuition put him right between Thor and Aragorn.
Pool’s dialogue and prose bridge many intersecting points together with wit, heart and palpable fear that sucks readers in and doesn’t let go. The action between the Witnesses and those looking to stand in their way with the inevitable converging of the characters, and how their lives will inevitably intersect steadily grows.
He had done everything… asked of him, and still, after all of it, he had fallen short. He would fail. He had already failed. Lacking in discipline… full of doubt and uncertainty and dreadful longing… he knew this was the truth of his own.
Both the dialogue and prode provide depth to main, and secondary characters along with a unique voice that remains even and distinct throughout the entirety of the story. The setting, inspired by Ancient Greece, is detailed from an arid desert to a vast sea, and vivid marketplace. I dare you to read There Will Come a Darkness without tasting and smelling the food. I spent a good deal of it with a growling stomach!
Pool has written an exquisite debut and start to a trilogy. While wrapping up a few storylines, it also provides enough cliffhangers to keep you anxiously awaiting the next installment.
If this is any indication of the Fall deluge of new books? The end of summer may not be so painful. Bring on the pumpkin everything!