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Book Review: The Gathering of the Lost by Helen Lowe

July 26th, 2012 by Sharon Stogner Comments

Tarathan of Ar and Jehane Mor, ride into the great city of Ij in time for it’s grand Festival of Masks. But soon after their arrival they witness a terrible slaughter as their fellow heralds are targeted an assassinated. They must flee for their lives across the city as they discover Swarm agents at work as they attempt to destabilise the entire River Cities network for their own ends. And five years after her great flight from the Derai Wall, Malian remains hidden to those who seek her. But she has not been idle. Her goal is to muster all Derai magic users that have fled into exile rather than face destruction. Only by uniting against the Swarm menace can they hold their own against the dark tide and she has hunted down every rumour of their presence. And she has developed her own powers that the Swarm must learn to respect ? and to fear. For Malian won’t see her people fall to a dark tide of twisted magic as demonic forces subvert a way of life. 

If you haven’t read the first book in the Wall of Night series, Heir of Night, then I suggest you do that before reading The Gathering of the LostThe Gathering begins 5 years after the end of Heir and I think it is important to understand what led the characters to where they are now. Like all fantasy there is a tremendous amount of world-building and it is best to start from the beginning. In my review of Heir of Night, I admitted Fantasy isn’t my genre. I did read the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, but that is the extent of my fantasy knowledge. However, I love The Wall of Night series because it is a fantastic story full of action, adventure and magic. The Gathering of the Lost is the second book in this eventual 4 book series.

Here is a synopsis of The Heir of Night written by the author. If you have read Heir, then you can skip this part. 

“In the far north of the world of Haarth, the alien Derai garrison the mountain range known as the Wall of Night against their aeons old enemy, the Swarm of Dark—an enemy  they have been fighting across worlds and time. The Derai’s cataclysmic arrival, several millenia before, threw up the Wall, which their Nine Houses have garrisoned with a series of central Keeps and outlying Holds.

When the story opens, the Derai remain a people under arms, but xenophobically isolated from the other peoples of Haarth. A society divided into warrior, priestly, and artisan castes, the Derai are also bitterly divided amongst themselves by the civil war that took place five hundred years before, setting brother against sister, warrior against priest, House against House. The civil war also culminated in a “night of long knives” that resulted in the loss of the Derai’s greatest power, the Golden Fire of the Keeps. This, together with discrimination against those with the Derai’s old magic powers, has considerably weakened the Derai’s ability to resist their ancient enemy.
In the beginning of HEIR we meet Malian, the daughter and Heir of the Earl of Night. She is only thirteen and has an adventurous nature and befriends Kalan, an exile from the House of Blood. Together they face a destiny that will require unbelievable sacrifice; the Derai Alliance is crumbling and no longer able to hold back the Swarm of Dark and “If Night falls, all fall””

Now, onto The Gathering. While Heir was about the Deria and life on the Wall, this book is about the life and people of Haarth after the Great Cataclysm, a period of devastating natural disasters followed by civil war and the fall of the Old Empire. I don’t want to discuss the plot of this book because there are a ton of revelations and twists that would ruin the first book as well as this one if you knew ahead of time. The unexpected events are one of the reasons I love this series so much. Pretty much what I could talk about is in the Gathering’s blurb at the top of the post.

This story is richly layered with multiple story lines coming together and Helen’s depiction of this world is vivid and complete. I would swear this was a real place and the author lives there. We meet so many characters in this book it is almost overwhelming, but none of them feel frivolous.

The writing is exceptional and the clever weaving of a “hiding behind the mask” theme is impressive. I am in awe Helen’s ability to write a story of this scope and not have any plot holes or WTH? moments. This isn’t a light read by any means; every word counts, so if you skim you will miss something. At over six hundred pages this book is one you must give your complete attention to and be actively engaged, but the payoff is worth it. Helen does a good job of occasionally summing up what has happened so far, which is a great help to me because with kids running around I wasn’t able to focus sometimes and I needed that extra help to connect the dots. There is some romance, but it is a bitter-sweet. The Wall of Night series has enthralled me and I look forward to what other surprises are in store for Malian and the House of Night as well as the joy of Helen’s writing. Book 3 will be calledDaughter of Blood. 

And it isn’t just me who loves this series!
Heir of Night awards
Sir Julius Vogel Award for “Best Novel” for The Heir of Night
International Gemmell”Morningstar” Award 2012 for Best Fantasy Newcomer!
5 “face-stealing” Nerds
Guest Reviewer: SharonS (edited by BAK) from I Smell Sheep
Helen Lowe
Helen Lowe’s first novel, Thornspell, a critically praised retelling of Sleeping Beauty, was published by Knopf Books for Young Readers in September 2008. Thornspell was a Storylines Notable Book 2009 and won the Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Novel, Young Adult 2009; Helen also won the Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best New Talent in the same year. Helen Lowe lives in Christchurch, New Zealand, and writes fantasy and sci-fi novels, poetry, and short fiction.

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Sharon is from North Carolina, where she lives with her husband and two daughters. She's a big fan of Dark UF with a romantic element, but can relax and enjoy just about anything Paranormal. She holds a 2nd degree black belt in Taekwondo and with a personal motto like "What doesn't kill me, better run pretty damn fast" this is one gal you do NOT want to mess with. She may like Pepsi, but she is also a huge fan of Star Wars and the TV show Supernatural. She may be a sheep, but she ain't sheepish..

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