Rebellions and new empires are my guilty pleasure. After Amber & Dusk I knew I wanted to read Diamond & Dawn and I loved this more introspective sequel.
Lyra Selene returns to the incandescent magic of Amber & Dusk in a second installment about the corrosions of even the most dazzling dreams, and the strength of hope amidst darkness.
Mirage, triumphant in her coup of the Amber Empire, returns to the palais prepared to take her place as Empress. With the support of her friends, Luca and Lullaby, and a tentative, blossoming romance with Sunder, Mirage is on the cusp of taking hold of everything she has wanted.
However, her place in the sun is not as sure as she expected; nor is it quite as bright as she imagined.
When the Empress Severine’s body is recovered from the battle, she is not dead after all — in a coma, she still represents a threat to Mirage’s newfound power. Worse, a distant cousin, Gavin d’Ars, Duc de Douane, appears in court to challenge both women with his blood claim, and to propose a series of trials to determine the most deserving heir. In Mirage’s fight to defend her vision for the empire, she begins to splinter all of her networks. Will the battle for control leave anyone untainted?
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
Diamond & Dawn is a story about innocence, about ruling, and power dynamics. If you were searching for the action and subterfuge you were used to from Amber & Dawn, then adjust your expectations. This sequel is equally satisfying even if it begins in a quieter fashion at the beginning. Mirage has to figure out how to be this new version of herself, the person who overthrew the Empress and the ruler of this new Empire.
What kind of ruler will she become? It’s easy to envision what we want to do if we get the power, but it’s much harder to follow through on our promises. What kind of person will we become? We can never go back to that innocence, the person we were before our decisions didn’t weigh on our souls. Before the Empire and people’s lives were not held in our hands.
I am consistently impressed with the way Selene manipulate the whole questions of illusions. What is just a mirage and what is real? The whole concept of images, whether they be a mirror, an illusion, or a dream, is played with throughout Diamond & Dawn. Are there more similarities between the people we cannot understand than we thought? What exactly separates us from our enemies?
In the midst of all these questions and quests for power, Selene introduces some of Severine’s perspectives. What made her become the ruler she was? How does our love have the power to turn against us? In many ways, Diamond & Dawn is about comparing Severine and Mirage to figure out what kind of ruler we want to be. How we will react when we are forced to confront hard choices.
Above all, Mirage’s character goes through explosive character growth. She used to be so certain about her dream, what kind of ruler she would be, but when she comes into power, she realizes that she isn’t sure of anything anymore. Do we regret our actions that lead us to this point? This is a question that Mirage asks herself – if she regrets her subterfuge and the rebellion.
Mirage is asked how she can become the ruler she wants to be. Does all the power she has, the stakes and risks, turn her into something twisted beyond recognition? A dream we can no longer find which has turned into a nightmare? The pressure can feel crushing and suffocating. Can we live up the hope or expectations of our loved ones? When the reality is so much more disappointing, terrifying, and challenging than we thought.
Diamond & Dawn is a story that asks us how we live with the consequences of our actions. What we do with our power. It can be hard to find our own light. Our own sense of self worth when we are so busy proving our worth to everyone. Will we resort to using people’s love against them. Forcing them to sacrifice everything else in their life, whittling it down to almost nothing of their own. It’s dangerous to keep chasing the light. We can’t afford to escape one obsession for another all to escape the dusk and possess the light.