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Last Song Before Night

(The Harp and Ring Sequence #1)

3.42  ·  Rating details ·  1,170 ratings  ·  275 reviews
Long ago, poets were Seers with access to powerful magic. Following a cataclysmic battle, the enchantments of Eivar were lost–now a song is only words and music, and no more. But when a dark power threatens the land, poets who thought only to gain fame for their songs face a task much greater: to restore the lost enchantments to the world. And the road to the Otherworld, w ...more
Hardcover, 415 pages
Published September 29th 2015 by Tor (first published September 1st 2015)
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Ilana C. Myer
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Average rating 3.42  · 
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Jan 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-shelf, fantasy
This was one hell of a pleasant surprise!

I expected an interesting fantasy, having thought the premise looked promising, but I hadn't realized I was stepping into a wonderfully pure story. Every character was crystal clear and everyone changed naturally, proving to be much more than any single trope, growing into wonderfully *likeable* people. Even the antagonists were exquisitely balanced.

I fell into this novel as if it was always meant for me, and I never once had to use any of my willpower t
Seth Dickinson
Jul 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Reading Last Song Before Night was like chasing a mirage.

I came into the story and I thought I saw the shape of it: a heroic young poet-man named Darien fighting to win his love Rianna away from her cold arranged marriage to nebbish Ned. A young woman named Lin who wants to be a poet, even though her world says that's a job for men. And a wise old wizard who'd bring them together to fight an ancient evil. There was a jealous friend, a manipulative worldly woman, and a scheming Court Poet archvi
Brian Staveley
I had the great good fortune to read this book in bound manuscript form. It's not a short novel, but I tore through it. My blurb, (which I've included below) mentions THE NAME OF THE WIND, but I've just finished Guy Gavriel Kay's TIGANA, and I think perhaps that latter novel might be the more apt comparison. I'm struck by the ability of both Myer and Kay to marry beauty and brutality. Neither author shies away from difficult scenes, but both insist on the fundamental beauty of the world. I'm itc ...more
I didn't finish more than half of this, but from what I saw, this is poor man's Kay, mostly. Same beats, similar characters and interests, same fascinations, some stylistic influences... just not as good. It's just close enough for everything to ring false. I might finish it later, but putting it aside for now. ...more
Sep 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
A country that sacrificed the enchantments that went with its music and poetry now faces a threat that can only be fought by that which was lost.

The players in this tense little tale are set early and defined well, with quite a lot ahead of them. Lin, the forbidden female poet running from an horrific past, Darien and Marlen, a duo of poets with huge potential, the lady Rianna, rich daughter of a merchant whose hand is courted by her childhood friend Ned and Darien the poet. There's a sinister f
Sep 15, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016
3.5 stars - not sure if I should round up or not. A compelling world and characters, but the plot and pacing of this went awry. I'd still like to read the sequel, if there is one (?)! ...more
Spencer Orey
Dec 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Bards (okay they're called poets), magic, and political intrigue. ...more
May 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, fantasy
Gorgeous, finely-wrought fantasy that reminded me of Kay's A SONG FOR ARBONNE.

If you know me, you know that's high praise indeed! Luminous writing, well-developed characters, strong world-building, all come together to create a wonderful debut- in fact, I was stunned to realize that this was a debut novel! I loved the way that music, magic, and religion were all intertwined, and I have to say that I also loved, LOVED the discovery that it was a standalone novel! As much as I enjoyed the book, i
Thomas Wagner
Dec 28, 2015 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars

Last Song Before Night comes so close to being a brilliant debut it nearly brings me to tears. Ilana Myer lures you into her extravagantly mounted epic with the promise of a tale of a rebellion inspired by poetry and led by musicians. But what emerges is just another tropey quest novel, with stock heroes and villains, and a curious lack of conviction supporting its feminist subtext.

Our heroine is Kimbralin — or just Lin — Amaristoth, daughter of an aristocratic household, who has fled h
Mar 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
I'm giving this a solid 2.5 so it's very middle-of-the-road. I think that I was initially drawn to this book by the amazing cover art and the idea that within this world music was once a power source but now that power has gone and songs and poems are just that.

We follow a group of characters who all seem to meet one another fairly coincidentally throughout the novel and then their adventures begin to mingle together. I found that the characters were all pretty interesting at first, as was the
Dec 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
First, the disclaimer, in the name of full disclosure: the author is a friend who I've known for many years. Of course I want her to be successful, but as a dedicated reader who is always looking for the HONEST review, I can only give an honest review myself. Please believe me when I say I'd give this five stars no matter who had written it!

Here's the part where I wish I were a writer so I could do justice to this book. Alas, my reviews tend to read like student book reports (this is what I like
Sep 09, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-read
3.5 stars rounded down.

There were things about this I liked a lot and for most of the things I didn't I'm willing to give this debut author the benefit of the doubt and attribute them to first book difficulties. The story and characters were interesting enough that I might read the sequel that is apparently planned. However, it didn't leave a real impression on me.

Which is kind of a problem. I'm usually pretty impressionable.
May 25, 2017 rated it did not like it
I went back and forth with this book, my first experience with a genuinely bad audio book, and I can't help but wish I'd read it if only because every now and then there is just barely great potential in this very, very, very, very long and for the most part very, very, very very boring "high fantasy" epic.

We open in the city of Tamryllin in the kingdom of Eivar where the people are gathering for a huge festival. The high point is to be an epic contest between poets each of whom hopes to win th
K. Lincoln
Aug 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This one took me a long time to read. I went into it based on a friend's recommendation, not really thinking the cover drew me in....and found out its an emotionally lush, richly woven world and story in the vein of Guy Gavriel Kay, Patrick Rothfuss or Melina Marchetta. So I had to slow down and appreciate not only the descriptive and evocative writing of the locations, but also to fully appreciate the emotional ramification of what was happening to each of the main characters.

And I was surpris
Oct 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
On the surface, Ilana C. Myer’s debut fantasy, Last Song Before Night, sounds familiar. It’s about a group of young men and women, from various casts of life — from wide eyed and naive, to ambitious and dangerous— who are manipulated by the great poet, Valanir Ocune, and his rival, Nickon Gerrard. Magic, once thought lost, is returning to Eivar, for good or ill, and the fate of the world is at stake. It’s all been done before, but, rooted in compelling characters, and a deep-seated sense of resp ...more
Oct 10, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-ebooks
3.5 stars.

It would occur to her later that sympathy is disarming even without surprise, but unexpected sympathy leaves no defense.
Holly (The GrimDragon)
“She read books of poetry, though they had lately begun to stoke her fury. It was all very well for these poets, who wandered off to have adventures and then could string them to words, to music. Anything she might write would be formless, a creature of rage and stormcloud. No music there.”

Last Song Before Night is the first installment in the Harp and Ring Sequence trilogy by Ilana C. Myer.

The poets of Eivar long ago used to hold power over the rulers, creating enchantments from music and words
Ville Kokko
Sep 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Last Song Before Night by Ilana C. Myer is a masterful fantasy story. The plot revolves around bringing lost magic back into the world to counter a supernatural threat — but even more around the fates of the characters, who are so achingly real that the reader has every reason to care about them.

Even before the main conflict is introduced, the story weaves a situation rich in conflict and potential just by introducing the setting and characters. The story starts in the city of Tamryllin in the d
The Captain
Apr 01, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandon-ship
It is time to abandon ship me mateys!

I just could not finish it. I tried. And tried. And tried again. Failure. I only managed to read 228 pages out of 415. I even liked the main character, Lin, a super lot. Now, this book got many starred reviews. People seemed to love it. Many authors that I enjoy blurbed it – Fran Wilde and A. M. Dellamonica among them. They said it was a wonderful debut set in a world full of music.

I can agree with the full of music part. This book is all about music. Music p
Jul 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Exciting, daring, and thoughtful. I read this book on my weekday commute, at the beach, and in bed at the end of the day, and it was perfectly suited for all three. The writing is rich and beautiful without being precious and while the plot moves quickly, the action/adventure serves character development rather than the other way around. I especially loved how the love stories are handled - without giving any spoilers, this book skips the usual predictability of True Love with blinder focus, and ...more
This character-driven debut kept me turning the pages. Though it contains darkness and tragedy, it never seemed overly grim or completely hopeless to me. It is a book to read for the characters' journeys rather than the plot, and I especially loved Lin and Rianna and their determination. I did feel like it had the potential to be superb but just missed the mark for various reasons: some cliches, a rushed ending, a tendency to overexplain, and some underdevelopment. However, I enjoyed reading it ...more
Oct 08, 2015 rated it it was ok
I try not to judge a book on the basis of what I hoped it might be, but this one had so much potential and disappointed me so thoroughly. Its themes--censorship, trauma and art--get buried quickly in tropey macguffin-chasing. The lore and world-building never quite cohere. I never got a solid sense of who the characters were; they're painted in loose brushstrokes and then set free to make dramatic plot-moving decisions for reasons that often remain unclear. There's also a lot of clunky expositor ...more
Oct 07, 2015 rated it did not like it
Surprisingly bland. The prose is stilted and dry, the characters are thinly-drawn, the worldbuilding is poor---and to top it all off, the storyline is tepid and unengaging. I'm usually somewhat lenient on debuts, but this book just showed so little in the way of actual writing talent that I have nothing positive to say about it. Okay . . . the cover art was beautiful. That's really the only positive thing I can say about this book.

Last Song Before Night was uninspired on pretty much every concei
David Mack
Jul 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This summer, I had the privilege of reading an uncorrected advance proof of Last Song Before Night, the debut fantasy novel by Ilana C. Myer.

(Full disclosure: Ilana and I have been friends for several years, and she and I are both writing novels for the same editor at Tor Books. That said, please note that I almost never review works by my friends. I am doing so in this case of my own volition; my review was not solicited. I have been offered nothing in exchange for this review, nor have I asked
"Swift the river flows, and with it all my hopes. My lady," he sang, and then found the line that had been eluding him, that his heart had been searching for all through their long journey. "Never shall we see such times again."

Was it perfect? No, I can think of at least 5 flaws this instant.
Was the climax rushed? Yes, absolutely.
Did it break me? Also yes. 100% yes.

Last Song Before Night was for the most part slow and at times boring and at times infuriating, but it was also, oh, so beautifu
Dec 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
(No spoilers) Most reviews of a high fantasy novel feel like they could only be intelligible to already-fans of high fantasy, or are more summary than review. Mystical names, invocations of lost ancient history and some lost potential of the original civilization, leading to some sort of quest are the backbone of the summaries. Yes, all the details are perfect in Last Song Before Night. A rich world surrounds and impinges upon the two main locations and characters' lives of the book, the lost ma ...more
Oct 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc, 2015
Reviewed from copy provided by Pan Macmillan Australia. They don't pay me (damnit!), and I’m quite happy to be honest in my reviews.

Occasionally you meet a book that defies expectation, and usually it's for a reason you can't quite put your finger on. Last Song Before Night is one of those books, for me. You know that feeling of wanting everybody to read a book so that the world will understand your thoughts, but at the same time you wish nobody else would read it, so you can keep it all to you
Mar 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
As is so typical of (fantasy) books these days, the story begins coherently--even if not spectacularly or with original ideas--and then unravels as the end approaches, as if the writer, the beta readers, and all the editors got bored by the time they reach the halfway point and just give up. After all, the readers who have bought the book have already ventured too far in to get a refund, so why bother with making sure that the story flows till the end?

This may be a cynical reaction to this book,
Apr 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I simply was not prepared enough for the journey that I have just completed. When I started the book, I had no idea of the breadth and scope of the story; of the depth of the characters and how invested I was to become in their well-being and success. The beautifully written and complex interweaving of the stories was handled with a deftness and maturity that belies the fact that this is Ms. Myers' first novel. I pray it will not be her last!

The story unfolds in one city, and yet sweeps across
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Ilana C. Myer has written for the Globe and Mail, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Salon, and the Huffington Post. Previously she was a freelance journalist in Jerusalem. She lives in New York City.

Fire Dance, the sequel to Last Song Before Night, will be released in April 2018.

Last Song Before Night is a standalone novel, but there IS a sequel (two actually!) forthcoming. Details here: https://il

Other books in the series

The Harp and Ring Sequence (3 books)
  • Fire Dance
  • The Poet King

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62 likes · 12 comments
“She read books of poetry, though they had lately begun to stoke her fury. It was all very well for these poets, who wandered off to have adventures and then could string them to words, to music. Anything she might write would be formless, a creature of rage and stormcloud. No music there.” 2 likes
“A surface, she reflected, exists for so many reasons, concealment only one. For it may also serve to protect, from others and from oneself. And perhaps, in an unexpected twist, to protect others from oneself.” 2 likes
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