Seventeen-year-old Vasilisa (Vasya) Petrovna is in trouble. She released a firebird to try to save the life of the Grand Prince of Moscow and is blamed for setting the city on fire. An angry mob seeks vengeance. Vasya falls into the hands of the priest Konstantin Nikonovich, an old foe, who plans to burn her as a witch. Vasya flees for her life.
‘There is evil walking in Moscow. We must face it together, or we will fall.’
And thus begins the conclusion to Katherine Arden’s wonderful Winternight trilogy. Vasya is caught in the conflicts between Morozko and Medved, the Russians and the Tatars and initially lacks the wisdom to understand the role she must play. Everything that is important to Vasya is under threat. She escapes to the realm of Midnight (a magical land made of all midnights, past present and future). Vasya is safe here, but her family and the world are not.
So, how does Vasya acquire the knowledge she needs to save Russia? How does she negotiate the boundaries between magic and reality? How does she prevail over the will of powerful men and their egos? And what about the long-standing feud between Morozko and Medved?
If you’ve read and enjoyed the first two novels in this trilogy, all the various pieces will make sense and fit into place. I strongly recommend reading the trilogy in order: I doubt that the story will make sense otherwise.
I loved this series. Ms Arden borrows from Russian medieval history (the battles between two states and the battle between religion and folklore) to create her world and adds another dimension to both.
‘It was never your task to pick out the good from the wicked. Your task was to unite us. We are one people.’