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

Title: Song of Silver, Flame Like Night | Series: Song of Silver, Flame Like Night | Pub Date: 2023-01-03 | Pages: 512| Genre: Fantasy | Source: NetGalley | Starred Review

Song of Silver, Flame Like Night Review

Song of Silver, Flame Like Night picks up some themes from Amelie Wen Zhao’s Blood Heir trilogy, such as fallen empires. In this book, the enemies are Elantians, and they rule over the Hin through force with a metal fist. This foundation touches on the core tenet from Zhao’s prior books: seeking power for the sake of power always leads to imbalance. Corruption. Zhao again touches on the sparks that ignite the fires of revolution. Although some central beliefs are the same as those in Blood Heir, this is no rehash of the same story. We’re introduced to a different magic system and follow the orphan Lan as she tries to understand the invisible seal on her wrist and survive as a subject in an occupied land.

The Hin are victims of the Elantians and their biases and mistakes from the past. They’re also hindered by effective disinformation campaigns that keep them from understanding and embracing their heritage. The layers of misunderstandings of past events are part of what Lan struggles with as she attempts to understand why her mother died, and what her mother wanted her to do.

The story touches on loss from the opening pages, and it’s a theme that persists throughout. It also touches on acceptance and rejection, and how that influences the choices people make.

The book doesn’t move at a breakneck pace, but that doesn’t mean that it’s slow. Zhao takes her time building this world, introducing the magic system, and developing the relationships. And the pace steadily builds to a jaw-dropping final act that sets the stage for the continuation.

Lan is saucy and it’s easy to warm to her spirit. Zen is, in many respects, a guarded soul who’s suffered under the weight of decisions made as a child. Both Lan and Zen lost everything in their youth, and they wrestle with internal and external demons, adding layers to this story and depth to the characters. They also deal with the conflict between their desires and the sense of a higher calling, to free their people from Elantian rule and restore balance. Some revelations weren’t surprises, while others stunned, and that produced a compelling read. 4.5 stars.

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