Daughter of Blood (2016), is the third book in Helen Lowe‘s four-book WALL OF NIGHT series, preceded by The Heir of Night and The Gathering of the Lost. It’s been a while since I read the last book, so it took a few chapters to untangle the far-reaching web of characters and plotlines, but soon I was back on track and re-immersing myself into the world of Haarth.
The Wall of Night is a vast mountain range that is garrisoned by the warlike Derai clans. Made up of Nine Houses in all, the Derai defend the wall against the destructive and demonic Darkswarm — but internal strife and civil war has weakened the vigilance of the Houses, and the power of the Swarm grows stronger even as representatives of each House struggle to restore peace.
Foremost among them are two young heroes: Malian, the Heir of the House of Night, and Kalan, a novice priest, who both escaped the initial attack of the Swarm and disappeared into the wilderness. But whereas the first two novels centred on Malian as their protagonist, Daughter of Blood is very much Kalan’s story, with Malian appearing in only a handful of pivotal chapters. Now a powerful and respected leader in his own right, Kalan takes on an orphaned thief called Faro, who (like many things in this novel) is more than what he seems.
As well as that, the novel introduces us to the titular Daughter of Blood: Lady Myrathis (or “Myr”, or “Lady Mouse”), the ninth daughter of the Earl of Blood who reluctantly agrees to marry the Earl of Night as part of a political alliance. After her older sisters refuse to make the sacrifice, Myr choses to meet her fate as bravely as she’s able, but her new position almost immediately puts her in danger.
Finally, Malian continues her mission to find the lost weapons of the legendary Yorindesarinen; a range of powerful tools that will help her stand against the Swarm.
Perhaps the greatest selling point of Lowe’s magnum opus is its sheer size. If you love a rich and complex epic fantasy series that unravels over the course of several (in-story) years, then the WALL OF NIGHT quartet will slake your thirst for intricate plotting, character development and world-building. Like all self-respecting epic novels, Daughter of Blood comes with a map and glossary to help you keep track of the vast scope of history, politics, mythology, geography and family trees that Lowe has created.
That said, she keeps a firm handle on her prose, delivering just the right amount of richness without delving into extraneous detail. As thick as the book is, nothing ever feels like unnecessary filler, and the story flows along at a steady pace: neither rushed nor meandering. The main characters are fully developed, and made especially interesting due to the difficult — sometimes impossible — choices they have to make, while the supporting cast come across as real people with their own goals and motivation, however humble.
Altogether, the three currently-published books will provide several weeks, perhaps even months, of reading material. It’s a huge undertaking, yet you can see the various story-threads slowly draw closer as Lowe prepares for the fourth and final book in the series: The Chaos Gate.
The Wall of Night — (2010-2015) Publisher: If Night falls, all fall… In the far north of the world of Haarth lies the bitter mountain range known as the Wall of Night. Garrisoned by the Nine Houses of the Derai, the Wall is the final bastion between the peoples of Haarth and the Swarm of Dark — which the Derai have been fighting across worlds and time. Malian, Heir to the House of Night, knows the history of her people: the unending war with the Darkswarm; the legendary heroes, blazing with long-lost power; the internal strife that has fractured the Derai’s former strength. But now the Darkswarm is rising again, and Malian’s destiny as Heir of Night is bound inextricably to both ancient legend and any future the Derai — or Haarth — may have.