A Magic of Nightfall
S. L. Farrell
Daw, Mar 2009, $24.95
Nessantico is the capital of the Holdings, but it is not as large as it once was. Firenzcia has broken away and other states followed forming the Coalition. Audric the ruler is two years away from his majority so continues to rule under the guidance of the Regent Serge Ca’Rudka. However, Audric is also falling into madness, as he imprisons the Regent while heeding the advice of an ancestor who the lad believes is giving him good counsel even though she is in a painting which he believes talks to him.
Sergei escapes heading to Firenzcia where Allesandra Ca’Vorl is manipulating events to enable her to achieve her goals. Allessandra was once a hostage is Nessantico because her father rejected her as his heir choosing her younger brother Fyyn. The lady has the assassin The White Stone carry out her plan for having the counsel place her son on the throne. The Westlanders in the Hellins were invaded by Nessantican forces; they push the outsiders from their country and invade the city. Alexandra wants her son to use his army to help Nessantico, but he has learned about her lies and murders so needs time to decide what to do.
The second Nessantico Cycle doesn’t suffer from the middle book syndrome as A MAGIC OF NIGHTFALL takes place twenty five years after the events of A MAGIC OF TWILIGHT. This gives the saga a feeling of freshness yet retains the innovative political intrigue. Each main character maintains their part of the story so that the audience sees a changing POV that makes for a fascinating read; for instance how different mother and son look at Nessantico. Based on a blending of medieval France, Florence, and Venice, this superb fantasy captures the betrayals even within families as Machiavelli would claim S. L. Farrell is more than just a great world-builder; he understand the essence of power is manipulating your opponents and allies to do your bidding.