A Fading Sun by Stephen LeighThe Sunpath Cycle #1
Published on July 4, 2017 by Daw Books
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
In this new paranormal fantasy series, a powerful woman who can see the dead must choose whether to forge a new path for herself and her family….
“The problem with ghosts is that they don’t quite realize that they’re dead.”
Voada Paorach can see the dead. It is a family trait, but one that has had to remain hidden since the Mundoan Empire conquered her people’s land three generations ago. But this ghost isn’t the same as the others she has glimpsed, the lost souls she has helped to find their way to the land beyond life. This ghost demands that Voada follow a new path, one that will mean leaving behind everything and everyone she has known and loved.
Voada will come to understand the power that her people possess, but she will also learn the steep price that must be paid for such a gift.
Fast-moving and intense, A Fading Sun explores grief, sacrifice, ambition, and the forging of personality in the crucible of war.
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So. From my understanding, A Fading Sun, is a play on history and mythology, combining the likes of Boudica, a Celtic queen, and her battles mixed with the paranormal. Which is pretty awesome because Boudica is seriously cool as a historical figure and one I don’t see represented, even loosely, in fiction very often.
But… that’s where my excitement started to fade.
First off, this book is described as a paranormal fantasy and while there are paranormal elements included, I would consider it a closer attempt to the epic high fantasies I’ve read akin to Lord of the Rings. And by “attempt” I mean that the author was kind enough to include a detailed glossary at the back of titles and people (it’s seriously extensive), and completely unnecessary. Why? I didn’t care enough to bother to check it. Instead, it seemed like more of an excuse to use hard-to-pronounce names in the vein of fantasy (and also one of the things that drives me nuts about the genre).
Not that I really felt anything for those characters listed beyond their names on the page, going through the motions. I never connected.
Following the glossary, there’s a note about the book and its historical inspiration that I thought somewhat amusing, where it’s insisted that it’s VERY loosely based, except that it becomes VERY clear from the beginning where the influence lies. That’s not a bad thing, mind you. I’m all for alternate histories and re-tellings and all that good stuff. But this seemed like an attempt to be fairly original by changing names of real-world places and events and I could tell.
To be honest, I probably paid far more attention to these things than I normally would have because I wasn’t really hooked on the story. The first third of the book moved slowly, laden with info dumps and leaving me waiting and waiting for something to happen. And when that pace finally did pick up, the story fell into the predictable nature of the genre. The problem with reading fantasy (a LOT) is that I no longer tend to enjoy those tropes as much as I would have if I read it less frequently. Or perhaps I’m just more critical of work because of it.
This isn’t to say this was a bad book, exactly. I can’t say I found it an entirely enjoyable experience reading it as it proved more of a struggle than not, but I can appreciate it as a spin on history if I think of it that way, versus a paranormal fantasy as it’s described. If you have an interest in history, specifically Boudica and her conflict with Romans, you may find A Fading Sun an interesting read.