Even though my reaction to A Magic of Twilight was rather lukewarm, when I saw A Magic of Nightfall in the bookstore I was excited and picked it up right away. For all of the flaws in book 1 it still left me wanting more, so Nightfall got prioritized pretty quickly in my stack.
I’ll say one thing for A Magic of Nightfall – it’s ballsy. Book 1 didn’t exactly end of a cliffhanger, but it did leave off in the midst of some action, and I was fully expecting Book 2 to pick up right where that action left off. Farrell, however, had other ideas, and Nightfall starts after about a 25 year gap in time. Needless to say, I was quite surprised…. but Farrell pulled it off pretty well. I was impressed by how naturally and organically the jump in time was executed. The characters had all aged and changed and developed in the intervening period, and I think the gap was necessary to move the story a long and really take it to the epic level that Farrell was aiming for.
Speaking of ballsy, the author makes a couple of moves within the first few chapters that left my jaw hanging open – I won’t elaborate since it would be impossible to do so without spoilers, but I will say that Farrell really stepped up to the plate and showed that he’s not afraid to take charge of his characters. Very Martin-esque in that regard.
For all the panache and promise that Nightfall started out with, I had high hopes for the book. Unfortunately, a lot of my gripes from the first novel wormed their way back into play. The biggest trouble surrounded characterization, yet again. Much like in Twilight, I didn’t feel all that attached to any of the characters and I felt like they had some inconsistencies. Farrell did a better job this time around of making his characters motivations make sense (and some of the motivational ambiguities from the 1st book were cleared up), but I just didn’t feel an emotional “umph” around any of the characters. Even some of the characters that I had started to sympathize with in the first book just didn’t quite make a connection with me during book 2. It was frustrating – I wanted to be emotionally wrapped up in the characters and their plight, but there was just something missing.
Character gripes aside, the story itself was (much like the first book) pretty solid, pretty engaging, and pretty good.
“Pretty” is cropping up a lot in this review – I should work on my synonyms. Fairly solid. Somewhat engaging. Moderately interesting. Reasonably good. A decent variety of words to express how I felt about the other aspects of the story. It had a nice ebb and flow with good buildups and lulls, all climaxing towards a solid finish. That said, by the end of the book I was kind of ready for it to be over. I raced through the last 80 pages not because I was on edge about how the story would end, but because I just wanted it to be done with already. I think this might be a personal problem, rather than a problem with the book itself – I do know better than to load too much epic fantasy into one month, so it may be that I just didn’t get enough variety in literature the last few weeks since I packed in both Twilight and Nightfall.
Well. A lot of that text sounds mediocre-to-negative, but believe it or not, A Magic of Nightfall was a good book. If you enjoyed A Magic of Twilight you’ll certainly enjoy its sequel, and (like me) will probably appreciate some of the polish to the characters and the risks that Farrell was willing to take as an author. I very much approve of the epic scope the Nessantico Cycle, and I look forward to seeing where the author takes his readers for book 3 – since just at this moment I have no idea where the plot could be headed! The bottom line: read it, but maybe give yourself a sufficient breather between books 1 and 2. Fill the gaps with some nice funny Pratchett or clever Doctorow, then be ready to plot head-long into the more dense epic fantasy that Farrell provides.