Book Review: Lightborn (spoilers for Darkborn)

Lightborn is the second of the (three?) Darkborn books written by author Alison Sinclair. I still adore this world.

We have mages: those on the Lightborn side of sunrise are major powers in a society ruled my intrigue and tests of strength; those on the Darkborn side of sunrise are ostracized from civilized society, generally weaker than their daylight counterparts. On the one side of sunrise we have a closely watched lineage of power and strength that rivals the ‘earthborn’ princes and houses; on the other we’ve got over-reaching dukes and archdukes who won’t listen to those in the know, and on both sides we’ve got people wanting to take down the mages, because magic is scary. After all, weren’t the Sundered people created at the hands of a mage, a millenium ago? Isn’t that what the Curse is all about, that allows light to incinerate and darkness to dissolve, respectively?

In Lightborn we meet some of the Lightborn, including Balthasar Hearne’s good friend Floria, Vigiliant to the Prince of the Lightborn. Because of the set up of the two peoples, it’s a bit disconcerting — we spend the first book getting to understand the working of the government and society, and in the second book we do it all over again! The story is advanced, however — we know Ishmael and Balthasar have been sent to reconnoiter about the Shadowlands, the area where monsters hail from, where Darkborn disappear regularly, victims of the Call, and where, for the last year, it has been inexplicably quiet. That, on top of the hints of Shadowborn collusion makes the archduke of the Darkborn very nervous . . . and it doesn’t help matters at all that the Lightborn dismiss the Shadowborn as myth.

As of this book, my love for the series continued to grow. I really, really adore Alison’s handling of the light/dark dichotemy, a lot. I love that the Darkborn have sonar. I love seeing the Darkborn world through the eyes of the Lightborn.

What I disliked in this book was there were simply too many character povs, now. There had to be: we’ve got Balthasar and Telmaine Hearne, Ishmael, Floria, and then we’re introduced to yet more characters and their point of views, and it begins to become unwieldy. I’d’ve liked for as thorough a treatment of the Lightborn world in Lightborn as we were treated to in the Darkborn’s world in Darkborn.

I still think folks should read this series, and I still think it’s a shame that Alison Sinclair’s back list is out of print.


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