Review: Song of Silver, Flame Like Night by Amélie Wen Zhao

Category:

Fantasy

Rating:

Introduction:

In a land plagued by tragedy, a young girl holds the key to unraveling the mysteries of her nation’s past and unleashing the demons that lay dormant at its core. This epic fantasy series draws inspiration from the mythology and folklore of ancient China.

Once known by a different name, Lan now goes by the moniker given to her by Elantian conquerors who ravaged her kingdom, killed her mother, and banned her people’s magic. By night, she performs as a songgirl in Haak’gong, a city that has been radically altered by the invaders. By day, she scavenges for remnants of the past, hoping to make sense of the strange mark on her arm, which her mother seared into her skin before dying.

The mark is a perplexing Hin character that only Lan can see, until one night when a boy appears at her teahouse and saves her life. Zen is a practitioner, one of the legendary magicians of the Last Kingdom. It’s believed that their magic was derived from the demons they communed with, magic long believed to be extinct and now kept hidden from the Elantians at all costs.

When Zen encounters Lan, he recognizes her potential as a practitioner with a formidable ability hidden within the mark on her arm. He’s never seen anything like it, but he’s certain that if answers exist, they can be found deep within the pine forests and misty mountains of the Last Kingdom, where an order of practitioning masters is planning to overthrow the Elantian rulers.

Lan and Zen harbor their own concealed secrets, and there is much they have yet to uncover. Despite their intertwined fates, their ultimate destiny remains unclear. They possess the power to free their land or bring about its downfall.

The battle for the Last Kingdom is about to begin.

Review:

This is an excellent beginning to a thrilling new series! Drawing from Chinese mythology, this fantasy story is filled with magical creatures, an intricate qi-based magical system, heart-pounding action, and expertly crafted characters that will leave you yearning for more. Once you start reading, you’ll find it hard to put the book down, but at the same time, you’ll wish it never ended.

The themes of colonialism and cultural assimilation are seamlessly woven into the story, making for a well-rounded and thought-provoking narrative. The protagonist, Lan, is a complex character, an orphan living on the streets of Haakgong who is taken in by a mysterious merchant and ends up working as a song girl in Madam Meng’s Teahouse. Lan bears a mysterious burn mark on her arm, left by her deceased mother, and is determined to uncover its meaning and her true purpose.

Zen, a practitioner of demonic magic, recognizes the power in Lan’s mark and the danger it poses if left unchecked. Together, they must team up to overthrow the Elantian regime and save their kingdom. Their relationship is touching, and the world-building is expertly crafted, with riveting pacing that will keep you hooked until the very end.

Overall, this book is a must-read for fans of epic, powerful fantasy stories. It deserves all the shining, magical, and highly-praised stars it has received, and I, for one, cannot wait to read more from this series.

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