Pros: Fascinating world and plotting
Cons: Some of the characters (particularly the females) were a bit flat
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
“Nessantico is a city rich with place and presence, with culture and intrigue. It is the capital of a vast empire and the main seat of the Concenzia faith. It is here that the mighty play their games of power. But now both the Faith and the empire stand balanced at a crucial turning point, for it is the fiftieth anniversary of Kraljica Marguerite ca’Ludovici’s reign and her long-awaited Jubilee Celebration may well prove the perfect catalyst for chaos and conflict.”
The battle lines are familiar ones: an iron-fisted passing ruler who has managed to maintain peace for long years. An heir who is tired of waiting for his throne, eager to prove himself by expanding his holdings. A faith divided by those who preach tolerance and those who would see heretics tortured and killed. Politics, force of arms, and faith are inextricably intertwined—and split down the middle between two sides.
The overarching world-building in S.L. Farrell’s A Magic of Twilight: Book One of the Nessantico Cycle is lovely and complex. The faith, its permutations and the supernatural power its adherents wield, is quite fascinating. Unfortunately, only some of the characters lived up to the complexity and interest of the rest of the book.
Many characters shared equal time on the pages, yet some definitely stood out as more fully-realized personalities. Marguerite (the Kraljica who rules the Holdings), Dhosti (the Archigos of the Concenzia), Sergei (a soldier and guard who will do anything to keep Nessantico safe)—these are some of the more interesting and compelling personalities.
Unfortunately, the character we seem to be most expected to identify with at the center of the story—one Ana cu’Seranta, a woman with an unusual strength when it comes to wielding the magic of the god Cenzi—didn’t satisfy at all. At first she has promise as a point of view character; she’s caught up in events beyond her control and has no idea what’s going on. Something seems to be compelling her toward a destiny, but destinies can be expensive and soul-rending. Once she gets taken under the Archigos’s wing, her actions and the actions of those around her toward her stopped making much sense to me. She seemed too passive/reactive, and when she did act she pretty much always acted in a direction that seemed obviously bad—both for her and for others—with too little understandable justification. It seemed as though Farrell had difficulty getting into her head at times.
So, while the plots and schemes and huge events were interesting, I was bugged by a constant nagging feeling of something not being right. Still, despite that I’m interested enough in the world to want to read the next book in the series. After all, authors often improve over time, so I’m hoping it’ll include the best parts of Twilight and improve on the rest.