The Starless Crown – Book Review

Moon Fall #1 by: James Rollins
Published on: January 4, 2022

The world of Urth has stopped rotating on its axis. One side always in the sun. One side always in darkness. But the moon’s fall draws closer and closer to the world, guaranteeing complete disaster unless a solution is found.

While The Starless Crown unfolds through several viewpoints, it is really Nyx who is the true main character and heart of the story. She is found as a young baby almost completely blind. Growing up she’s had to deal with bullying and self-doubt, but she is loved by her adoptive family and has a kind and gentle soul. Nicola Barber does the narration for the book and does a lovely job by giving Nyx a very soft tone. In turn, this soft tone helps to enhance all the emotional scenes that Nyx goes through and helps make them memorable.

The basic story starts when Nyx is rescued from a male predator in an unexpected fashion. It isn’t long before the King learns about it and rather than being happy that she survived the attack and condemning all involved, decides that she should be taken away for research instead. The King then requests Prince Kanthe, who is the younger of the King’s twin sons, be part of the group to collect her. But once there, Prince Kanthe soon finds that his own life is in jeopardy. To escape, a small group is formed amongst their friends.

As I write this review I realize how much is really going on with this story both in total number of characters, but also in lore, flora and fauna, and activity. Other than Nyx and Prince Kanthe, there are two additional points of view: one is a thief who escapes prison with the help of a living artifact and the other an old soldier, who comes into the story around 45% in. The four main groups at times come together and then other times split apart. It made listening to this on audio a little tricky as I had to remember which character was where and with whom since I couldn’t view text on a page for reference. There are also multiple ‘bad guys’ too that you need to keep track of and can be daunting as well, but not as much as the main group.

Because the plot felt like one long escape plan, there were occasions I wished that the ‘escape’ had been reduced by several chapters. I know, I know…lore and world-building are what make fantasy novels unique and wonderful, but it left me thinking that perhaps we could have reduced the number of pages or chapters so that it wasn’t as drawn out as it was.

Another struggle I had was how much Prince Kanthe’s twin brother felt one-dimensional. His reasons and justifications just didn’t ring true or make sense to me. He honestly didn’t need to do what he was doing, so why was he doing them? Nyx and Kanthe and all the others were so well thought out and display a range of emotions and purpose. But when it came to the royal family, they were like Disney villains and felt very very flat.

All in all it was nice, engaging story that had just a few bumps along the way. I might have even teared up at some of the death scenes….Maybe. I blame Nicola for that – for doing a really nice job narrating those moments.

Rating: 3.75 stars

Thanks to Netgalley and Macmillan Audio for the advanced reader copy audio book and opportunity to provide an honest review.