I had a feeling this book would be a 5-star read for me, and I was right!
A Song of Silver, Flame Like Night follows two main characters. Lan lives under the rule of the Elantian colonizers who invaded her kingdom and killed her mother. She has a mysterious mark on her arm that only she can see, and when she’s not working as a songgirl, she spends her time trying to figure out what it means.
Zen is a practitioner—one of the fabled magicians of the Last Kingdom. When Zen runs into Lan, he can see the mark on her arm and knows she has hidden power. Together, they try to outrun the Elantians while unraveling the mystery of Lan’s mark.
Well, where to begin?
Zhao’s writing is beautiful. The way she writes her imagery really brings her world to life.
The worldbuilding is intense but very well crafted. The story takes the time to set up the worldbuilding, plot, and characters. However, I think Zhao wrote it in a way that doesn’t make you feel like you’re plodding through the story. The stakes are really high and adds a thread of tension throughout the story.
I loved both of the main characters—and how dramatic they are. Lan doesn’t put up with anyone’s crap, and Zen is like a stoic emo boy. They’re both well-rounded characters with plenty of flaws and tragic backstories, and I like how they complimented each other.
My one critique that I have to mention is that there was a specific line that was straight out of Star Wars, as in it immediately conjured up a specific scene with Anakin in my brain 😅
A Song of Silver, Flame Like Night tackles a lot of hard topics: colonization, genocide, experimentation. It has practitioners and magicians, a magic school, demons, and Chinese mythology. It’s an intense book that I really enjoyed and left me devastated in the end. I’m looking forward to the sequel!