All Harold has to do is travel across a sprawling realm, into the perilous Forests of Zagraba, and retrieve the Rainbow Horn (a magical artifact that is the only object that can neutralize the Nameless One’s power), which happens to be buried deep in Hrad Spein (aka Palaces of Bone) – ancient, haunted catacombs that have been the burial grounds for ogres, orcs, elves, and human heroes:

 

“No one knows who created Hrad Spein, and in which age, whose thought and strength it was that bit so deep into the bones of the earth, creating those immense caves and caverns that were later transformed into the architectural wonders of the northern world and, later still, into a world of darkness and horror…”

 

Accompanying Harold on his journey are a misfit group which includes a perpetually arguing gnome and dwarf, a beautiful elfin princess, a goblin jester, and some battle-tested soldiers but, before Harold even begins his quest, he stumbles across a life-changing revelation in a part of the city known as the Stain, a district of Avendoom surrounded by a magical wall to keep a mysterious evil from escaping...

 

 

 

 

Will I read the second and third installments of Pehov’s adventure fantasy trilogy? Absolutely. Will I distinctly remember this saga 10 years from now? Probably not.

 

Here are the concluding remarks from my review for Shadow Prowler:

 

“The bottom line is this: Shadow Prowler (and the Chronicles of Siala) isn’t the next coming of The Lord of the Rings. Not by a long shot. The meticulous, richly described world building isn’t there. The jaw-dropping backstory isn’t there. The societal allegory and thematic profundity aren’t there. But if you enjoy adventure fantasy on a grand scale, you will love this literary Russian import, which is comparable to Feist’s Midkemia and Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar sequence…”

 

 

Well, to put it bluntly, Lena Meydan rocked my literary world to its foundations. Although Twilight Forever Rising will undoubtedly appeal to paranormal fantasy fans who enjoy works by Laurell K. Hamilton, Kim Harrison and Patricia Briggs, it’s more a “literary” dark fantasy comparable to Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles (Interview with the Vampire, The Vampire Lestat, etc.) or even Stoker’s Dracula. There was a narrative weight here, an unfathomably deep sense of history and existential insight and authenticity that is exceedingly rare in paranormal fantasy sagas… 

 

The storyline is impressively intricate and does take a while to get rolling – but once it does, watch out! Set largely in modern day Russia, Meydan’s world is inhabited by numerous vampire (they call themselves “blood brothers”) clans – many of who have abided for centuries by an Oath to not take the lives of mortals. But some families want to change the status quo and become kings and queens of the night once again: “The civilization of the sheep was destroying the wolves. Transforming blood brothers into toothless calves...”

 

Amidst this ongoing power struggle between clans is Darel Dahanavar, an empath who wants nothing more than the clans to live in peace – and obscurity – amongst the humans. But the ruthless head of another clan has very different plans – and Darel is forced to make some very difficult decisions, not the least of which concerns Loraine, his human love interest…

 

There are so many layers to this narrative – it’s gritty, it’s romantic, it’s brutal, it’s philosophical, it’s a sweeping narrative about love and power and morality and survival…

 

I particularly enjoyed Meydan’s understated sense of sensuality, which was simultaneously poetic and sublimely erotic. For example, here’s a sequence early in the novel when Darel takes Loraine to the opera:

 

“Loraine had expected me to try to sit as close as possible. She didn’t know that now, as my gaze caressed her tanned, unprotected neck, I was much closer to her than ever. Loraine turned her head to look at me, and those warm little lights were trembling in her blue eyes. The rose I brought had started slowly opening on her knees, responding to the warmth of her body…”

 

But equally intriguing was Meydan’s deep exploration into the complex psyche of a vampire:

 

“We all yearn for our former life… and we take our revenge on mortals because they are so blithe and carefree, because their life is so short, because they can see the sun. That is why we transform them into creatures like ourselves – so that they will live forever and suffer just as we do…”

 

 

Yes, I said it. Lena Meydan is the Russian equivalent to Anne Rice.

 

 

 

Paul Goat Allen has been a full-time book reviewer specializing in genre fiction for almost the last two decades and has written more than 6,000 reviews for companies like Publishers Weekly, The Chicago Tribune, and BarnesandNoble.com. In his free time, he reads.

Comments
by on ‎10-28-2010 09:01 PM

Great review Paul! I'm completely hooked. I loved Anne Rice's pre-religious books, and anything that resembles and/or is comparable to Rice's paranormal fiction is a must read for me. I just ordered the book.:smileyhappy:   

 

(Plus, I enjoyed the epic adventure Shadow Prowler. I really like the Russian imports so far.) 

by on ‎10-29-2010 01:53 AM

Definitely worth checking out, thank you Paul.

 

Been far too long since something blew me away at that depth.

 

by LordRuthven on ‎10-29-2010 08:34 AM

it’s more a “literary” dark fantasy comparable to Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles

 

Sold. That's what I prefer.

by Moderator paulgoatallen on ‎10-29-2010 08:42 AM

I'm really curious how this release goes over in the States: the writing is understated – very stylish –  and doesn't feature over-the-top violence, graphic sexuality and/or sitcom humor like some American paranormal fantasy sequences. Will American readers pass this book by because it's translated? I hope not...

by KekeJ on ‎10-29-2010 08:47 AM

Wow! If you are so taken with it I must get my hands on that book.

by Sensitivemuse on ‎10-29-2010 01:19 PM

2 more books added to my wishlist :smileyhappy: thanx for the info and review.

 

It does seem like Russian books are all over the place now :smileyhappy: my bf recently purchased Metro 2033 (author escapes me at the moment, it's also a PC Game as well) and he's enjoying that book right now...

 

Don't forget the Nightwatch series too. :smileyhappy: (I read The Night Watch, I'll have to give it a reread though).

by Moderator paulgoatallen on ‎10-29-2010 04:28 PM

Sensitive:

Interestingly enough, the guy who translated Sergei Lukyanenko's Night Watch series from Russian to English is the same guy who translated Twilight Forever Rising – Andrew Bromfield!

 

Paul

by on ‎10-29-2010 05:16 PM

Interestingly enough, the guy who translated Sergei Lukyanenko's Night Watch series from Russian to English is the same guy who translated Twilight Forever Rising – Andrew Bromfield!

 

 

Ah ok good, I've already figured out the way and feel Bromfield translates.

by on ‎10-29-2010 05:22 PM

 

Paul
If the writing and story are good, then there's a good chance that this book will be read by consumers of broader general fiction as well as the usual Urban Fantasy fans. Maybe not right away, but word travels about really good books. A lot of people read Night Watch, (I did), and this may experience even greater readership due to the vampire craze. 

 

by Alex_Maximov on ‎11-01-2010 05:32 AM

Pehov is one of three Russian authors who is hidden under pseudonym Lena Meydan. :smileywink: It was interesting to read the review which is based on comparison of two authors :smileyhappy:

by Moderator paulgoatallen on ‎11-01-2010 09:44 AM

Alex:

I asked the publicist about this and I think you're mistaken. She did say, however, that Lena Meydan is married to Alexey Pehov... Do you know if this is correct?

 

 

by Alex_Maximov on ‎11-01-2010 02:33 PM

In Russia the series has three authors: Alexey Pehov, Elena Bychkova and Natalia Turchaninova. Elena is really Alexey Pehov's wife. She made adaptation of the book for the American market, maybe she has got all rights to the book under agreement with other co-authors, I don’t know. But in Russia it’s the co-project, all 4 books (1, 2, 3, 4)

by Moderator paulgoatallen on ‎11-01-2010 03:13 PM

Wow – great information, Alex! Thank you!

by on ‎11-01-2010 04:16 PM

It is interesting that Alexey and Elena co-operated on the book. I'm eagerly awaiting it.

 

Also, I'm happy that the sequel to Shadow Trawler, entitled Shadow Chaser, is scheduled for release April 12, 2011. 

by PhyllisJ on ‎11-01-2010 10:02 PM

Paul, great review as always.  I just placed an order for the book.  Thanks for keeping me updated.  :-)

 

Phyl

by PhyllisJ on ‎11-01-2010 10:04 PM

Hi Paul,  Left out the book I ordered is Twilight Forever Rising.  LOL,  Phyl

by Aelish on ‎11-29-2010 09:44 PM

Hi, Paul,

 

I purchased Twilight Forever Rising based on your review.  I'm about halfway through and I'm enjoying it so far.  Thanks for the recommendation!

 

Kim

by Moderator paulgoatallen on ‎11-29-2010 11:21 PM

You're welcome, Kim – glad you're enjoying it!

 

Paul

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