H.C. Newell mines new emotional depths in Shadows of Nyn’Dira, the third entry in her dark epic fantasy series, Fallen Light. Shadows of Nyn’Dira builds upon her already strong worldbuilding and character development from the first two books of the series, Curse of the Fallen and The Forbidden Realms, as well as her masterfully written novella, The Banished. I will keep this review completely spoiler-free for readers who have not yet started the series.
The lead protagonist of the Fallen Light series is Nerana Leithor, or Neer for short, a young woman who possesses forbidden magical powers. Neer is relentlessly pursued by the religious rulers of the human-controlled territories, who vilify her for her magical abilities.
As Shadows of Nyn’Dira opens, Neer finds herself in the titular elven forest, her body tired and broken following the events of The Forbidden Realms. H.C. Newell skillfully juxtaposes the awe-inspiring beauty of the Nyn’Dira forest with Neer’s feelings of dread and desolation.
Shadows of Nyn’Dira expands upon H.C. Newell’s world in every way, with increasingly powerful magic, deeper lore, and more extensive worldbuilding revealing a rich history and complex culture. Newell’s land of Laeroth feels truly “lived in,” much like J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth or George R.R. Martin’s Westeros. H.C. Newell earns bonus points for direwolf representation, which is fully worthy of comparison to Martin’s A Game of Thrones.
Throughout Shadows of Nyn’Dira, H.C. Newell explores themes of individual, family, and cultural identity. Neer struggles to find her place, as she is rejected by her own people but can never fully integrate into the culture of a different race. At the same time, Neer must also confront her inner anger and decide whether to pursue a path of vengeance or one of forgiveness.
H.C. Newell adopts a slower pace in Shadows of Nyn’Dira compared to Curse of the Fallen and especially its breakneck sequel, The Forbidden Realms. The more measured pacing of Shadows of Nyn’Dira works effectively to develop the emotional depth of Neer and her inner circle of companions. Much of the world views Neer as a monster, and she is beginning to feel like one.
The story of Shadows of Nyn’Dira is engrossing from the first page and never lets up till the very end. The Fallen Light series is full of twists and turns, and H.C. Newell saves some of her biggest reveals for this third novel.
Shadows of Nyn’Dira is H.C. Newell’s finest work to date, a dark emotional masterpiece that delivers high-stakes fantasy action with intricate, immersive worldbuilding and plenty of unexpected twists that kept me glued to the pages. I eagerly await the fourth volume of her Fallen Light series.
Read Shadows of Nyn’Dira by H.C. Newell