I agreed almost exactly with Adam Whitehead’s review of The Fade. He gave an excellent summary so I've pretty much copied that portion and must give due credit. His review is here.
The Fade takes place on the world of Callespa. A rocky moon circling a much larger planet in a binary system, Callespa became virtually uninhabitable when the stars' output dramatically increased. Humanity retreated underground, splintering into many tribes, leaving only those hardy people known as the SunChildren to dwell on the surface. For many years the nations of Eskara and the Gurta have been at war, a battle fought back and forth through vast subterranean chambers with neither kingdom able to win a decisive advantage.
Massima Leithka Orna is a Bondswoman, an indentured servant of Clan Caracassa. She is also a member of her clan's Cadre, a collection of warriors and magic-wielders (known as chthonomancers) beyond compare, elite fighters at the front of every major push but also adept at assassination and espionage. During a brutal battle her forces are betrayed and her husband is killed. Taken prisoner to a Gurta fortress, Orna lives only to escape and find her son, now serving on the front lines.
There are two plots, one in the present time following Orno in the prison, her escape, and the aftermath of the battle. The second plotline is a series of flashbacks from Orno’s life increasing gradually backwards. The book is short at barely over three hundred pages, but the pacing is excellent and there is very little that is not important to the story.
The world building is extremely well done making me think it really existed. The civilizations are wholly fleshed out as well. The real focus is on the vivid characters and Orno herself. The whole thing is told from her perspective so you really feel her life, her memories, and her emotions. While I saw the twist ending of the climax coming a mile off, it was still well handled. I like that Wooding had the guts to have an unhappy, ambiguous ending.
I certainly hope Wooding plans to write more in this universe. Strongly recommended.