“Song of Silver Flame Like Night” by Amélie Wen Zhao | Book Review

It is the duty of those with power to protect those without.

Song of Silver, Flame Like Night by Amélie Wen Zhao

Song of Silver, Flame Like Night by Amélie Wen Zhao

SERIES: Song of the Last Kingdom (Book #1)

LENGTH: 459 pages

GENRES: Fantasy, YA, Fiction

PUBLISHER: Delacorte

RELEASE DATE: 3 January 2023


“Perfect for fans of The Untamed. I loved it!” —Shelley Parker-Chan, #1 Sunday Times bestselling author of She Who Became the Sun.

In a fallen kingdom, one girl carries the key to discovering the secrets of her nation’s past—and unleashing the demons that sleep at its heart. An epic fantasy series inspired by the mythology and folklore of ancient China.

Once, Lan had a different name. Now she goes by the one the Elantian colonizers gave her when they invaded her kingdom, killed her mother, and outlawed her people’s magic. She spends her nights as a songgirl in Haak’gong, a city transformed by the conquerors, and her days scavenging for what she can find of the past. Anything to understand the strange mark burned into her arm by her mother in her last act before she died.

The mark is mysterious—an untranslatable Hin character—and no one but Lan can see it. Until the night a boy appears at her teahouse and saves her life.

Zen is a practitioner—one of the fabled magicians of the Last Kingdom. Their magic was rumored to have been drawn from the demons they communed with. Magic believed to be long lost. Now it must be hidden from the Elantians at all costs.

When Zen comes across Lan, he recognizes what she is: a practitioner with a powerful ability hidden in the mark on her arm. He’s never seen anything like it—but he knows that if there are answers, they lie deep in the pine forests and misty mountains of the Last Kingdom, with an order of practitioning masters planning to overthrow the Elantian regime.

Both Lan and Zen have secrets buried deep within—secrets they must hide from others, and secrets that they themselves have yet to discover. Fate has connected them, but their destiny remains unwritten. Both hold the power to liberate their land. And both hold the power to destroy the world. 

Now the battle for the Last Kingdom begins.

My Review

The map lies within.

When the time is right,

This ocarina will sing for the Ruin of Gods.

So… it’s been awhile since my last book review. Whoops, sorry. I just had the absolute worst reading block this past month. But now it’s gone, and I’m more than ready to do another one. (And to read more books!)

I pretty much went into this book nearly blind, which is something that doesn’t normally happen. But I saw the cover, skimmed the summary (quickly enough where when I got around to reading the novel, I retained nothing), and then read Song of Silver, Flame Like Night.

And I really enjoyed it. I had a few annoyances with it, sure, but I ultimately really liked it.

Stuff I Liked

The practitioner spoke after a little while. “I seem to have forsaken my manners when we first met.” His eyes were still fogged with exhaustion, but his voice was pleasant again, imperial and commanding, as when they had first met back at the Teahouse. “My name is Zen.”

Zen. It was a monosyllabic moniker as ordained by the new Elantian laws but it was something. A half-name, a half- truth… yet it would do for now.

Lan pulled her lips into the ghost of a smile. “I’m Lan.”

Lan was a decently likable protagonist. I didn’t find her as annoying as most of the sassy, badass lead female characters that I’ve read, which is a good thing. She made a really big, really stupid decision about midway through the book though, and that’s something I’m having some trouble wrapping my head around. Like, it really, really bothered me. A lot.

Zen, our deuteragonist, was also a great character to follow. He was very much a foil to Lan. In several different ways, I actually found him to be the more interesting protagonist out of the two.

I also really liked the supporting cast. De’zi was a kind and humorous mentor (and father to Zen) figure, and I really liked him, even if I did figure out all of the twists and secrets involved with him way early on. Dilaya was someone I was kind of annoyed by throughout most of the book, but I knew she’d be getting some character development later on (a lot of which is probably gonna be in book two), so I started to like her near the end. Tai and Shán’jūn were also a highlight. Their relationship was cute though underdeveloped.

The setting and Chinese folklore influences were probably my favorite things about the novel. Zhao paints a beautiful and brutal fantasy world in her writing, and it comes together in a wonderful story.

The plot itself is also really good. I always like storylines that feature a quest, and this has a very interesting and compelling one. I also like the use of the invasive colonists, known as the Elantians, and how their magic and technology differ from our protagonists’ Hin culture. It really highlighted the stark differences between the two.

Stuff I Didn’t Like

“I wish for you to not go anywhere without me. In this world and the next. I wish for you to choose me.”

So, I really hated the romance between Lan and Zen. I knew that it was coming (the writing wasn’t exactly subtle about it), and hoped that it would be executed well. It wasn’t. (SPOILER) There is literally a freaking proposal three quarters of the way in between Zen and Lan, and they’ve only known one another about three weeks at this point. Three. Weeks. It’s completely ridiculous. I hate insta-love. Except when insta-love is written well. (This, was not done well.)

There was also a lot of fridging going on at the beginning of Song of Silver, Flame Like Night. A gross amount. Not only does one individual die, but multiple. Death flags are everywhere, so it’s not unexpected. Just disappointing. (I don’t really like fridging, by the way.)

The last thing that really irritated me, was that the climax was kind of obnoxious. The main characters were all flipflopping between emotions too often and extremely out of character (to me), and everything is moving almost ridiculously fast. There’s also no sense of distance, and it was hard to tell how much time was passing. It was really annoying to read.

Closing Thoughts

Yin and yang, good and evil, great and terrible, kings and tyrants and heroes and villains. The tropes in the classics of old are but a matter of perspective. Really, they are two sides of the same coin. He who lives to tell the tale decides which side to pick.

So yeah, I really liked this book. Do I recommend it? Oh, heck yeah! Song of Silver, Flame Like Night by Amélie Wen Zhao is a fantastic new fantasy novel. Fans of fantasy with romance (YA in particular) will most likely enjoy this book, as well as fans of xianxia and danmei.

Anyway, thank you so much for reading, and have a fantastic day/night!

See ya ~Mar


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