Put simply, Nightfall is a combination of classic sci-fi invasion and imperial literature. Set decades after the invasion, it follows a family high in society and the military just as trouble begins to erupt. Earth has been taken over from another dimension. In fact, multiple Earths have been taken over, creating a multiverse-spanning empire. However, like so many empires, it has begun to rot from the inside. Technology stagnates, bickering fills the ruling Council, and on top of that, the First Leader (essentially the emperor) has fallen ill.
Into all of this come the Clemhorns, the ruling family of Etu, one of the parallel Earths. Ivy Clemhorn has recently gotten a promotion, and her brothers are all engaged in their own lives and political pursuits. The narrative bounces between the four of them, revealing their personal joys and sorrows as each is inexorably drawn into what may be the fall of an empire.
Nightfall has an intense backstory, but you wouldn’t know that if you just dove right in. (Well, you would, but it would come to you in bits and pieces as you read.) I saw a debate recently about whether to read the prologue to a fantasy novel or skip straight to chapter one, and the first thing I should say about Nightfall is that you must read the prologue. Before any prospective reader balks, let me assure you that it isn’t one of those interminable “eons in the past” prologues so many genre readers have gotten used to. In fact, this prologue is only a page long.
Unfortunately, that means those who do read the prologue will only know a bit more than those who don’t. I found myself with enough questions about who was who and just what had happened in the past that I was sometimes distracted from the action. If I have one complaint about the book, it’s that I would have liked more explicit worldbuilding. I wasn’t entirely lost, but I did find myself confused.
That said, the author did skillfully work bits of exposition into the action so that pieces of the plot came together neatly, almost effortlessly. The plot itself, even with its unanswered questions, is a compelling one, and I found myself drawn in.
The book is the first in a series and ends rather abruptly. I wish it could have gone on longer both because I felt it deserved something closer to a conclusion and because I really do want to see what happens next. I’ll be keeping my eyes open for the second!
|Author||Andrew J Harvey|
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|Category||Science Fiction & Fantasy|