fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book reviews Marie Brennan Onyx Court Midnight Never Come, In Ashes LieIn Ashes Lie by Marie Brennan

In Ashes Lie continues the story of the Onyx Court, a faerie city situated just below London, and the Court’s dealings with London’s mortals. Lune, who became queen of the Onyx Court in Midnight Never Come, reigns still. Her mortal consort, Michael Deven, is long dead. Lune has chosen another man to act as her official consort and liaison with the mortal world, but the role is political only.

In Ashes Lie follows Lune and her allies through the end of Charles I’s troubled reign, Oliver Cromwell’s rise to power, and the eventual restoration of the monarchy. Running alongside this mortal politicking, dangerous plots are afoot in the faerie court. As you might guess by the novel’s title, the climactic events take place during the Great Fire of 1666, which threatens to destroy both London and the Onyx Court. Like Midnight Never Come, In Ashes Lie gets off to a slowish start. Marie Brennan takes her time moving all of her pieces into place. When all hell does break loose, though, it’s as exciting as anyone could wish, and made all the more effective by the careful, deliberate buildup of events.

This is, first and foremost, a story about power: its uses and misuses. It becomes clear early in the novel that Lune has been changed by her years on the throne, by the tough decisions that a ruler must make. The events of In Ashes Lie test her further, and there are a few questions always on Lune’s mind and the reader’s: When should justice be tempered by mercy? Should the fae meddle in mortal affairs, and if so, how? Can Lune avoid becoming as ruthless as her predecessor, Invidiana?

Readers looking for romance will not find it here. If In Ashes Lie is a love story, it’s a love story between Lune and her kingdom, and between her mortal friends and the city of London. It’s a beautiful and touching story, too. It’s just not what you may be expecting if you seek another Lune/Deven plotline.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention Brennan’s prose, just as restrained and elegant as before. And the only real peeve I had in Midnight Never Come has been remedied here: there’s a map of London in the front of the book, along with a Dramatis Personae for those moments when you can’t remember who is lord of what.

Recommended, with the caveat that you’ll probably want to read Midnight Never Come first. In Ashes Lie stands on its own plotwise, but there are many references to people and events past. The characters’ history weighs heavily on them, and you’ll get more out of the story if you are familiar with that history.

The Onyx Court — (began in 2008) Publisher: England flourishes under the hand of its Virgin Queen: Elizabeth, Gloriana, last and most powerful of the Tudor monarchs. But a great light casts a great shadow. In hidden catacombs beneath London, a second Queen holds court: Invidiana, ruler of faerie England, and a dark mirror to the glory above. In the thirty years since Elizabeth ascended her throne, fae and mortal politics have become inextricably entwined, in secret alliances and ruthless betrayals whose existence is suspected only by a few. Two courtiers, both struggling for royal favor, are about to uncover the secrets that lie behind these two thrones. When the faerie lady Lune is sent to monitor and manipulate Elizabeth’s spymaster, Walsingham, her path crosses that of Michael Deven, a mortal gentleman and agent of Walsingham’s. His discovery of the “hidden player” in English politics will test Lune’s loyalty and Deven’s courage alike. Will she betray her Queen for the sake of a world that is not hers? And can he survive in the alien and Machiavellian world of the fae? For only together will they be able to find the source of Invidiana’s power — find it, and break it… A breathtaking novel of intrigue and betrayal set in Elizabethan England; Midnight Never Come seamlessly weaves together history and the fantastic to dazzling effect.

Marie Brennan The Onyx Court: 1. Midnight Never Come 2. In Ashes LieMarie Brennan The Onyx Court: 1. Midnight Never Come 2. In Ashes Lie 3. A Star Shall FallMarie Brennan The Onyx Court: 1. Midnight Never Come 2. In Ashes Lie 3. A Star Shall Fall Marie Brennan The Onyx Court: 1. Midnight Never Come 2. In Ashes Lie 3. A Star Shall Fall 4. With Fate Conspirefantasy and science fiction book reviews


  • Kelly Lasiter

    KELLY LASITER, with us since July 2008, is a mild-mannered academic administrative assistant by day, but at night she rules over a private empire of tottering bookshelves. Kelly is most fond of fantasy set in a historical setting (a la Jo Graham) or in a setting that echoes a real historical period (a la George RR Martin and Jacqueline Carey). She also enjoys urban fantasy and its close cousin, paranormal romance, though she believes these subgenres’ recent burst in popularity has resulted in an excess of dreck. She is a sucker for pretty prose (she majored in English, after all) and mythological themes.

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