Book Review: Shadowborn

Shadowborn is the last (I think? I’ve not seen anything to suggest otherwise) of the Darkborn books, and before I go further I do have to give out a caveat: endings rarely satisfy me. Including my own. Once we hit the climax in most books (and most movies, and most shows) I become incredibly disinterested in the material. Which makes writing super fun, let me tell you. But, this isn’t about me, this is about the series.

We caught a glimpse of the Shadowborn — those folks who live in or beyond the wasteland around the edge of the Sundered Lands, the land where we know the great magic that lead to the Curse took place — a time or two already. We saw enough in Darkborn to be apprehensive, and we saw enough in Lightborn to be chilled. We see more in Shadowborn and, to be honest, we don’t see nearly enough.

This is the least satisfying of all the books, and I think it could have been salvaged by extending the series to four or five books. At this point we have far too many pov characters for the length of the book and the complexity of the plot. We’re introduced to two different factions of the Shadowborn, and we’re made to care, a little, of some of them, who are then swept away and forgotten in the climax of the story. As a reader, I care far more for the folks I’ve been with since Darkborn, and having one of them plunked down in the court of one of the Shadowborn factions is extremely interesting — for the two scenes we get, wherein its treated as a device for a history lesson and little more.

I can’t help but wonder: was this because of publisher demands and limits? Did the third book suffer because a fourth book wouldn’t be supported? By the middle of Lightborn there is enough material and intrigue and complexity for this series to have an epic fantasy scope; at least, each book could have easily supported another one to two hundred words, especially the third, and not have suffered for it. Through the books Alison proves herself to be a talented and skilled storyteller, so I can’t help but wonder how much outside influences are at play, here.

Despite my unhappiness with the ending, I still am quite pleased to have discovered this series, and I do think others should read them. The Darkborn are so cool! They have sonar!

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