“The Starless Crown: MoonFall” by James Rollins is a science fiction and fantasy epic from the popular author of techno-thrillers.

Today, we’ll discuss this new epic fantasy with elements of steampunk and science fiction. The novel, titled “The Starless Crown: MoonFall,” is written by the well-known American author James Rollins, whose books have frequently appeared on the New York Times bestseller lists. Although I was familiar with his impressive techno-thrillers, I was surprised to see the genre “fantasy” next to Rollins’ name. Upon delving into the author’s biography, I discovered that he has been writing in this genre since 2005, often under a different pseudonym (his real name being James Paul Czajkowski, writing as James Clemens).

Unfortunately, only a few of James Rollins’ novels have been translated into Ukrainian, so it’s great that the publishing house Bookchef has released the first book of his fresh duology, “MoonFall.” Having already read this novel, I will share my impressions below.

“The Starless Crown: MoonFall”
Author: James Rollins
Publisher: Bookchef
Number of pages: 768
Cover: Hardcover
Year of publication: 2023
Size: 128×200

The fall of the moon
The fall of the moon

The story is set in a world on a planet that has long ceased to revolve around its own sun. Consequently, one part of the planet is scorching hot, while the other is covered in perpetual ice and incredible cold. People and other creatures inhabit a relatively small territory in the middle. Orbiting the planet is the Moon, which, according to ancient prophecies, is destined to fall to Earth and destroy it.

A diverse group of heroes, including a girl connected to giant ancient bats, her father – an exiled knight, a prince of the empire pursued by his brother, the heir to the throne, a condemned thief who miraculously escaped from captivity, and an ancient semi-divine being made of bronze, must come together to prevent the impending apocalypse. Can they stop the end of the world? What will remain of it afterward, or will this planet survive?

The plot of “The Starless Crown: MoonFall” combines the aforementioned genres of epic fantasy and science fiction, with a touch of steampunk evident in the presence of various airships powered not only by science but also by magical powders and inventions.

This unusual combination is more than adequately perceived. Moreover, the “scientific” aspects primarily explain the rotation of the planet, while everything else is classic fantasy. The story revolves around a significant problem – the real end of the world, a few antagonistic characters, and a group of heroes who must not only confront enemies but literally save the planet from apocalypse.

The overall story framework is familiar to fans of the genre. Additionally, this narrative style in the fantasy genre is considered not only classic but somewhat outdated. The author’s chosen unhurried narrative style, expansive and slow, resembling a fireside chat, further contributes to this perception. However, the novel incorporates realism, cruelty, sexual and domestic violence, injecting a “George Martin-esque” presentation that keeps the story engaging and the reader alert.

“The Starless Crown: MoonFall” can also boast well-thought-out and deep world-building. There are no elves or orcs, making the novel less canonical than intended. However, James Rollins has successfully crafted a rich universe filled with events and curiosities, a world one would want to inhabit. For me, as a reader, this is one of the book’s most significant advantages in the fantasy genre.

Moreover, it is an extraordinary world. We understand that it is not just a piece of territory on a beautifully drawn map but uncharted lands beyond. The reader is immediately informed that it is a planet, and not a simple one – it has ceased to rotate, leading to serious consequences for the climate, among other things. It has both a Sun and a Moon, with the latter predicted to bring catastrophe soon. All of these scientific and unusual elements are combined with the most classical fantasy, creating a very intriguing novel that makes you want to keep reading.

The main characters are also worth attention. While most of them are classic (a girl destined to save the world, a criminal who falls in love and changes, a reluctant prince burdened with responsibilities for friends and the future of the world, etc.), they are excellently developed. They have logical desires and obstacles to overcome. They all feel alive, triggering quick empathy from the reader.

However, there is one antagonist, the brother of the aforementioned prince, whose actions are entirely illogical and inconsistent with the character described by the author. Initially portrayed as a complex personality with great responsibility, occasional expressions of love for his brother, and empathy, the character suddenly changes views in a way that is both illogical and inconsistent.

As for the edition itself, “The Starless Crown: MoonFall” is well-made and of high quality, but it lacks the distinctive features of fantasy editions. The novel includes a map and a few interesting illustrations of local creatures. However, in all other respects, it is a straightforward “brick” with a gray cover, and one can only guess its fantasy genre by the title. And that’s not guaranteed. However, to be fair, the original cover of the American edition also seems somewhat dull in my opinion.


“The Starless Crown: MoonFall” is a science fiction and fantasy epic with a steampunk flavor. It presents a magical yet brutal world filled with dangerous and unique creatures, an intriguing climate due to the planet’s halt, political conspiracies, and a looming apocalypse. It is a captivating start to a new series with high stakes and powerful world-building.

However, for some readers, the fantasy plot may seem too classic, as modern authors in this genre have moved forward. Additionally, one of the key villains is missing in James Rollins’s narrative. Nevertheless, it is an unusual and powerful story that keeps you reading without pause.

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