In Siege of Daylight by Gregory S. Close
In Siege of Daylight by Gregory S. Close, the first book in The Compendium of Light, Dark & Shadow, tells a slow moving epic of the fight between light and darkness, full of mysteries and a lot going on behind the scenes. This book is the introduction into a vast world with scores of unique races, gods, and factions. The story follows a big cast of characters; from the apprentice bard that gets tangled up into the mess, to the intelligent and politically attuned heiress, and the grizzled veteran haunted by his past. Many more characters and groups have their part in this play, often shrouded in mystery.
While I generally enjoyed the story, it took me much longer to read this book than is common for me. I can normally read even a big fantasy books in 3 days to a week, depending on how much time I have (and how much the story grips me). This took me a lot longer, especially because the middle section moved too slow even for my tastes. I like slow stories that take their time to introduce and develop their world and characters, but some parts in this book seemed not to move at all. This feeling was enhanced by the lack of interest in some of the POV-characters and their part in the story. I especially felt the protagonist, the apprentice to a famous bard (and much more besides), didn’t get enough time in the spotlight.
The POV-characters are generally interesting, but a bit less would have been more in this instance. Part of the story doesn’t really move forward, mostly consumed by discussions about war and the characters on losing ground against the powerful pro-war faction. Another problem was the POV of the antagonist. While I liked to have such a view, the POV of the antagonist consumed too much time at the beginning of the book and it felt like it gave too much away that wasn’t known to any of the other characters, killing some interesting surprises.
I’ll have to continue with surprise and predictability, because a big mystery of the book is basically given away in the very beginning of the book. I simply had to wait until it was made “official” as the surprise of the ending. I think this was foreshadowing done wrong. If it had been introduced to the readers’ thoughts about how the story might develop in small doses and over time it could have been great, but to give it away so freely so early on didn’t work for me.
While the worldbuilding is extensive and will probably continue to grow in later books, this had one negative aspect on the story in the form of words. If you read fantasy as much as me, you know that a part of worldbuilding lies in the languages and in inventing words and phrases. Sadly, many of the words introduced in this story are jumbles of random letters that are hard to read and remember. Accessibility is an important part to introduce readers to a new world and culture, but this book makes the story harder to access and follow. Some of the words are even very similar to others, without giving the reader a distinct difference between their meaning. This made it harder for me to follow the story at times, especially when it was related to the magic.
The magic system is not unique, but not generic either. I can’t really say much about it yet, because there’s simply not much known at this point. They simply do magic, but it’s exhausting and stuff, and fortunately limited. But you can see that there is much behind the magic, a whole lot we don’t understand yet, and that can make things confusing.
The story itself is good. The pace picks up after the slump in the middle and the story goes for a spurt towards the ending. Most of the POV-characters are well done and interesting to follow. If you plan to pick this book up I’ll encourage you, but only if you like slow moving epics. There is action here, and rather good one too, but only at times breaking the unhurried pace.
I’m still undecided whether or not to pick up the next book, but I’ll definitely keep an eye out for it. If the author can speed up the pace a fraction and give the reader some more insight into the story and the world, I think this series could shape up to something very interesting.