The greatest games in Godsgrave’s history have ended with the most audacious murders in the history of the Itreyan Republic.
Mia Corvere, gladiatii, escaped slave and infamous assassin, is on the run. Pursued by Blades of the Red Church and soldiers of the Luminatii legion, she may never escape the City of Bridges and Bones alive. Her mentor Mercurio is now in the clutches of her enemies. Her own family wishes her dead. And her nemesis, Consul Julius Scaeva, stands but a breath from total dominance over the Republic.
But beneath the city, a dark secret awaits. Together with her lover Ashlinn, brother Jonnen and a mysterious benefactor returned from beyond the veil of death, she must undertake a perilous journey across the Republic, seeking the final answer to the riddle of her life. Truedark approaches. Night is falling on the Republic for perhaps the final time.
Can Mia survive in a world where even daylight must die?
So, back when it was released three years ago, I was lucky enough to be sent an ARC of Nevernight from the publishers – I loved it and wrote a rave review straight away. When I was sent Godsgrave, it unfortunately just didn’t suck me in as much (maybe a case of middle book syndrome?) and so I didn’t attempt to request Darkdawn as I didn’t want to take a copy away from someone who was more invested in the series than I was. However, I still did want to know how Mia’s story ended, so naturally I picked up a copy and got stuck straight in as soon as it was released. I’ve seen mixed reviews of Darkdawn, but honestly? I think this book was the best of the trilogy and truly was the most satisfying ending.
“I am a daughter of the dark between the stars. I am the thought that wakes the bastards of this world sweating in the nevernight. i am the vengeance of every orphaned daughter, every murdered mother, every bastard son. I am the war you cannot win.”
Darkdawn kicks off literally moments from where Godsgrave ended – luckily, there is a recap at the beginning of the book. Despite not enjoying Godsgrave as much as Nevernight, I did find it easy enough to sink back into Mia’s world and be able to place all of the characters without trouble. Despite it obviously being a conclusion to a series, I felt as though it was so unique to the previous two books and the story was so gripping in itself that it felt almost like its own contained novel, albeit one where you felt as though you were reading about old friends once again.
“Fear has it’s uses. Fear is what keeps the dark from devouring you. Fear is what stops you joining a game you cannot hope to win.”
I think possibly what stood out for me as a whole throughout Darkdawn, and really made the overall plot, was the way it seemed to take typical high fantasy tropes and tip them on their heads. For example:
- ‘The Chosen One.’ We’ve always known Mia’s destined for greatness. What sets Darkdawn apart from Nevernight and Godsgrave is that we finally find out exactly why. I won’t say much else so I can avoid spoilers, but I will say that unlike so many other fantasy novels, Mia does have a purpose, it not only makes sense to the overall plot but also enhances it. This plot arc is also unlike anything I’ve ever seen before in a book and honestly, I loved it!
- The unexplained, overpowered protagonist. Mia’s powerful, sure. We’ve read two novels following her training, seeing exactly why she’s so strong rather than her just being that way for the sake of the story. Darkdawn not only explains further why Mia’s capable of so much, but also finally answers questions we’ve been asking since first meeting Mia in Nevernight.
- A seemingly pointless revenge arc – what are they fighting for? This one’s probably pretty clear – we’ve all always known that anything Mia does, she’s done for her familia. It’s stated throughout the entire trilogy. Darkdawn dives deeper into this, and I’m glad to say that Mia doesn’t waver on what has always been her reason to fight another day.
- Good vs Evil. So, we know there’s a war brewing. We know something larger is going on. We also know that the characters we love in this series are 100% morally grey characters. The plot of Darkdawn is definitely in part based around what’s right and wrong, but not in a stereotypical way, as the characters themselves don’t fully know the right thing to do and are mostly being led by other forces. It’s definitely something questioned throughout the book, rather than Mia and her crew blindly following what they are told is ‘right’.
- The evil dictator who’s just, well, pure evil. This is a trope we already know is broken. We know why Mia hates Scaeva, and that she has so many good reasons too. It turns out there are even more reasons than she previously knew about…
- The ending. Obviously I won’t say much here – however, I will say that I think we usually have certain expectations of how these sort of trilogies will end – we’ll either get the happy ending we hope for, or the probably more realistic devastating blow of an ending. What I will say is that I felt as though the ending of Darkdawn was right. It wasn’t done to please (something I suppose we always knew wouldn’t happen!) and it wasn’t done to shock. Mia’s story ended the only way it could after the events of Darkdawn, in my opinion – however, I still found it very unexpected. Also, yes, I did cry.
“This is who I am. I’m not a hero. I’m a vengeful, selfish bitch. And I’ve never pretended otherwise. If you wanted a saviour, perhaps you should’ve picked a girl who believes this world is worth saving.”
As I say, I really feel as though this was my favourite instalment of the entire trilogy, and definitely had the best possible ending (no matter how heartbreaking parts of it may have been). Loose ends from the previous two books were tied up, so many mysteries were explained, and the character development was incredible. As with the first two books, I still couldn’t get on with the footnotes at all, but I don’t find that this puts me off too much as I can skim them if necessary. What I will say is, if any mixed reviews or similar made you unsure about finishing this series, I’d definitely recommend doing so!