Book Review: A Day of Fallen Night (The Roots of Chaos #0) by Samantha Shannon

First things first: it was incredibly rude of Samantha Shannon to attempt to both quench the fires of those who serve the Nameless One and power the dragons who oppose them with the tears of her readers. I. Am. Dehydrated. 

In the spirit of the balance the world of The Roots of Chaos series hinges upon as I wait for an apology, I’ll apologize for initially writing A Day of Fallen Night off as “supplementary” reading to The Priory of the Orange Tree. In my defense, I was still emotionally devastated from excitedly flipping book two over to its back cover immediately after finishing book one, only to realize that book two wasn’t a book two at all, but a book zero. A book zero that takes place hundreds of years before all the characters I’ve come to love have even been born. Where are my sapphic queens!? And what was that bloodthirsty butterfly up to besides no good!? – It should be noted that I have a totally rational fear of butterflies and am willing to give them all the love and trust they deserve, which is none.

This series has so many butterflies (and moths). So, so many.

I don’t know if it was the painfully palpable loss of all the best girls from Priory, the overwhelming doubling of maps at the front of the book (that I totally, 100% memorized as the characters wracked up a ridiculous number of frequent flier miles over 800+ pages) – need I remind you about my memory trick of “West is for breasts, East is for beasts” to keep track of the simple hemisphere hopping of book 1? This is the level of brain power I’m working with – and/or my utter ineptitude when it comes to history as a subject (a definite hurdle when it comes to a constantly evolving understanding of the mythology of a fantasy world), but it took a while for me to move past missing what I once had and onto giving the new narrators a chance as I waited for them to prove they were worthy of being prioritized over this world’s future.

Was it the hint of a potential enemies to lovers arc that inevitably got me invested in this prequel? Listen, I am a simple woman, and the excitement of one of my top tropes was honestly all the motivation I needed to start my katamari ball of appreciation rolling down the path through a time that reshaped the world with such vibrant, dramatic, and often heart wrenching moments. The battles between incredibly fragile humans, nightmarishly bastardized abominations, and terror inducing dragons are awe inspiring for sure (no rushed climax this time!), and it’s hard not to be impressed with Shannon’s ability to keep the reader guessing even when previous knowledge of the world sees right through some attempts at the “don’t be suspicious, don’t be suspicious” dance, in moments both big and small.

The new depths of understanding do so much for this series, even as it’s hard not to be a little disappointed in seeing so much promise 500 years before a world that doesn’t seem as different as you’d hope, especially where Inys is concerned. Admittedly I got exactly what I wished for after being kept apart from Queen Sabran’s thoughts in Priory now that we get to further explore the price of the queendom with Glorian, as she is the one to now feel the full restraint of the shackles that hold her back from having any really autonomy as the realm demands ownership of her body. But it turns out being more aware of this lack of agency makes the numerous centuries to come between these two books all the more painful, allowing the unignorable ache of a need for a Priory sequel the chance to violently tear its way back to the surface once more.

Of course now instead of just wanting a sequel to The Priory of the Orange Tree I want a sequel to A Day of Fallen Night as well. Hell, I’ll gladly take any books anywhere on the timeline of this universe. Shannon has fully won me over. That doesn’t mean I won’t always mourn the discontinued narration of any of the characters I’ve come to love (basically anyone except for you, Niclays, you ass), but now I’m far more willing to welcome anyone new with stories to tell.

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