Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Review: Starborn & Heartland

Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

Death and destruction will bar her way. . .

Kyndra's fate holds betrayal and salvation, but the journey starts in her small village. On the day she comes of age, she accidentally disrupts an ancient ceremony, ending centuries of tradition. So when an unnatural storm targets her superstitious community, Kyndra is blamed. She fears for her life until two strangers save her, by wielding powers not seen for an age - powers fuelled by the sun and the moon.

Together, they flee to the hidden citadel of Naris. And here, Kyndra experiences disturbing visions of the past, showing war and one man's terrifying response. She'll learn more in the city's subterranean chambers, amongst fanatics and rebels. But first Kyndra will be brutally tested in a bid to unlock her own magic.

If she survives the ordeal, she'll discover a force greater than she could ever have imagined. But could it create as well as destroy? And can she control it, to right an ancient wrong?

Well. What a debut! I'm a huge fantasy fan, we all know this, and Starborn has lodged itself a place as one of my new favourites! Why? Because it was completely perfect. I mean, I only meant to read the first chapter or so and I ended up reading loads and getting to sleep way late but I got too wrapped up in the story! I don't want to be too spoilery but I do have to say there's a bit that gave me kind of Hogwarts vibes, if ya know....Hogwarts was inside a mountain and you had to be tortured to get in, and ya know...people where shady as. Honestly, I don't know why my brain went oooohhh how Hogwartsy but it did, and it's a more grown up Hogwarts, as it where. It has a super cool archives that I need in my life. Just saying! 

The world of the book and the history that goes with it is so completely rich and I enjoyed learning about it. You learned the right amount, when you needed to know it and there where no pages and pages of background information! It's all worked in to the narrative and the extract from Kyndra's book! I'd like to see more extracts! The book dives straight in, immediately immersing you in to the world as you read and the world starts to take form around you. It's very cinematic and very vivid. 

The book pulls you in from the start as it piques your curiosity. What is the relic? What's going to happen? What's going to happen NOW? Who are they? And so on. There's plenty of little intrigues to go along with the compelling writing that keeps you reading longer than you should! I was completely hooked on the mysteries of the book, and finding out more about the world and more about what was going to happen to Kyndra. 

Starborn maintains a steady pace throughout the book, a little slow at the beginning and at some points there wasn't much focus to the plot and when I took a break from reading I reflected and realised not much had happened. It was very plot driven in the beginning! The book is, however, steeped in mystery, there's so much for you to guess at and try to work out and the plot feeds you little pieces to help you try to put it together! There are plenty of surprises within the plot, I mean I knew Kyndra was something, and I had a pretty good idea what that something was but I was still surprised with how it came about and there where times when I thought I'd got it all wrong! The book went in a completely different direction to what I thought it would as well! 

I loved Kyndra right from the start, and then when her BFF was being a douche and she did the whole "I have a name" thing I was like "YOU GO KYNDRA!" and forever loved her after that! I felt for her throughout the entire book, especially with all the stuff with her friends. That doesn't mean there weren't points in the book when I wanted to give her a shake, because there where a few moments like that. I mean, she acknowledged she was doing something she shouldn't and that others where trying to help her and so on. Her visions where such a source of intrigue and told a mini story within the main story so I was surprised that they weren't focused on by some other characters more. 

Bregenne and Nediah intrigued me from the start, and I'd guessed about their magic but still wanted to know more about who they are and what their magic does and where they're from and so on. At times their motivations where a bit unclear to me, I wasn't sure if they where good or bad at some points in the beginning, but it turned around when they got their own POV's. 

Bregennes POV was genuinely fantastic because you got to know her and her motivations became clear and you gained an understanding of her character and her behaviour. At times she seemed cold and a little bid shady but after getting a glimpse in to her mind you see how she operates and start to come to like her. Nediah's POV, again, gave you an understanding of his motivations and where he stands. There where other POV's as well briefly Medvale the shadowy stranger, and a couple of Janus, although I will admit, while it was useful to see his motivations and find out that something dodgy was going on, there where a couple of bits that seemed a bit unnecessary for him, once you knew what he was up to. 

The POV's where well done, the changes come when you need them and really brought the book in to it's own, you finally started to connect with the other characters and get an idea of the world of the book. They added to the story, helped you to understand the characters, what they're going through and so on. 

Part one of the book was almost like a huge adventure with them travelling to the place where the majority of the book is set and where all the action takes place. I found part one to be the main part that was a bit slow, it was all Kyndra's POV, and while it was almost like an adventure, not much actually happened on the adventure. Except for the sky ship. The sky ship was super cool! It was also the source of most of the action in part one, along with events at the village! ANYWAY. When we come in to Part Two, we get more POV's and more is going on and there's more intrigues and mysteries to work out and the book really comes into it's own then. 

The world building of the book is the main strength of the book. It's unique, and like I said, very rich and really brings the book to life. There's magic, obviously, and there's so much more to the world than you originally realise. It's a big world as it is, but by the end of the book it becomes even bigger, and you realise the full potential of the next book with all the different places to explore, as well as the high stakes! There's a lot of politics in this book among the Wielders and the council members, and Bregenne breaking rules and so on. There's a lot of backstabbing and scheming going on, and it looks like in the next book there's going to be more politics on a larger scale. The politics of the book and the world of the book, where completely fascinating as you try to work out who's up to what! I'm telling you one character completely gets what's coming to them! Although ya know...this other horrible character is still alive and kicking, but hopefully book two will fix that! (I blame Game of Thrones for this argh kill all the evil, mentality). 

The book really does excel at making you feel emotion, I felt heartbroken for Kyndra more than once, I felt angry on her behalf more than once. I could understand where she was coming from and why she made every decision that she did, and even when she was doing stupid things, and she knew she was being unfair and you knew she was being unfair......you could still understand why she was doing it. 

The main characters where an interesting bunch, and there's more to them than meets the eye. I'd like to know more about Nediah in particular, we learned a bit about Bregenne but not so much about Nediah, and obviously we know loads about Kyndra! There are plenty of supporting cast that are also well created and brought to life in the book, like Iri! I loved Iri immediately, and I was really disappointed at one point but then she continued to be awesome so it was no problem! I wasn't sure of Gareth and Shika in the beginning but by the end of the book, they became part of the crew, and I'm eager to know more about them. Gareth has done the thing he wasn't supposed to do and is clearly suffering the consequences, which'll be interesting to watch play out! But he, Shika and Iri still have an air of mystery to them and I'm hoping we'll get to see more of them in the next book and learn more about them! 

The bad characters are the ones you kind of really, really hate but like hating them. Aledrand for example (seriously can we kill him please?!) was horrible and you just wanted to smack him one but at the same time he was a little bit pathetic and petty! There's another horrible character but that one's name will be too spoilery but honestly, he was such a good villain for the book! Janus I wanted to like, really I did and I was hoping he'd do the right thing but nope. Shame. I'm interested to see where the author goes with him next! I liked how with one character, he turned out to be more than we thought, but like...you kind of saw why he did what he did, but you saw two perspectives of him and what he did and it was interesting because he thought he was doing the right thing, but he did go about it in a horrible way. 

The ending of Starborn paves the way for the next book, I had not expected the direction it was going, and it tied up the story from this book, while having plenty of new possibilities open up and an already large world opens up in to a larger one ready to be explored. There's new issues that have come to light that will come in to play in the next book, and I'm excited to see how it all plays out!

Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

Kyndra has saved and damned the people of Mariar. Her star-born powers healed a land in turmoil, but destroyed an ancient magic - which once concealed them from invaders. Now Kyndra must head into enemy territory to secure peace.

She finds the Sartyan Empire, unstable but as warlike as ever. It's plagued by dissident factions, yet its emperor still has the strength to crush her homeland. The Khronostians, assassins who dance through time, could help Kyndra; or they might be her undoing. And deep within the desert, Char Lesko struggles to control his own emerging powers. He's been raised by a mercenary whose secrets could change everything - including the future and the past.

But when Kyndra and Char meet, will their goals align? Kyndra must harness the full glory of the stars and Char has to channel his rage, or two continents will be lost.

Okaaaay so with Heartland we're straight back in to things, and I feel like the pacing was a bit better in this book than in the first one, meaning there weren't so many of the slower moments where things where very plot driven! Heartland has a really good, steady pace, picking up speed as we head towards the end of the book and the, quite frankly, hugely shocking finale! I really didn't see that coming at all I'm not going to lie, and now I need book three like...yesterday because OH MY GOD. Not over it. 

As with the previous book, we get multiple POV's and I'm really loving this tactic in this series because it helps keep you engaged with the book, and keeps it fresh. Plus not only do we get to carry on knowing more about the characters we've already met  but we get to know a couple of new characters too! Plus it has the added bonus of showing us what's happening in another part of the story with other characters separate from Kyndra.  We kinda had two narratives going, Kyndra's plot and then what was going on with Gareth. 

Our first new characters is Hagden. I wasn't sure what to make of him at first,  I was like "Okay he's working with the wrong team so he's going to be the ominous villain presence." but then things happened and I was starting to like him more and more and I was like "Make the right choice...come to the good guys!". I'm genuinely so excited to see more of him in the next book, he's just a regular soldier, ruthlessly mutinied by his own men and women. Frankly I'm amazed he stayed on the side he did for as long as he did considering his backstory. He also provides us with a character to hate. Iresont√© was such a damn snake I can't even. I hissed when she appeared yet again, doing something shady yet again. 

Our other new character is the mysterious Char. He's trying to get the truth about who and what he is, and I spent a lot of the book changing my mind about which theory I was going with. I just couldn't decide. I was a bit wary of him at first, because working with slavers, but he grew on me over the course of the book. Not just because he provided a good chunk of intrigue either. I'm looking forward to seeing more of him next book...and more of he and Kyndra. 

Kyndra is back and I continue to love her, while spending a small fraction of time wanting to give her a good shake. She actually bugged me at one point in the book and I was a bit like "hmmm". But she's going down a certain path that's going to be interesting to see play out as she's dealing with the consequences and fallout of the last book. Things are getting dark for her, is all I'm going to say and it's going to be interesting to watch and see resolved. 

Medavle continues to be the shadiest of the shady and his POV was rather ominous more than once. This book decided for me that I don't really like him at all. I mean  I get where he's coming from but we all know it's not going to end well. Things like what he's after never do in movies...TV...books...anything. Kait is another character I find to be a bit shady and I didn't really warm up to her at all and I spent most of the book disliking her. Partially because leave my ship alone Kait! 

We get Bregenne's POV and you guys know how much I love her! She's badass and I ship her and Nediah so badly so I was kinda gutted they where separated for the book! She's teamed up with Gareth to try and deal with his...issue shall we say. We all know he did the thing he shouldn't have done, and as predicted, the fallout from it was interesting. I mean...I actually came to really like Gareth so I'm like 'please don't die' but also...you kinda had it coming. Thanks to Gareth and Bregenne's journey we get to see a different part of the world and a different set of characters which was a lot of fun because their story had a different vibe to what was going on with Kyndra and her group. Don't get me wrong it's all woven together but it was like two stories in one in this book!

The world building continues to be brilliant. Like I said, we get to see some more settings, and meet some more characters that populate these new settings. I'm loving learning more and more about the world and it's history and how it works and I feel like Lucy does a brilliant job with her world building. It's richly written, and very vivid. 

Once again, I ended up feeling a lot of different emotions while reading, and I was kinda exhausted by the end of the book! There's a lot of action to keep you on the edge of your seat. A lot of intrigue and mystery for you to puzzle out and think through and come up with theories for...that then ends up surprising you with a brilliant twist. And of course there's the betrayal and backstabbing and political manoeuvring that personally had me feeling a multitude of different things depending on who was doing what. 

Heartland has a different vibe from Starborn, in Starborn Kyndra's journeying to find out who and what she is, and there where some Harry Potter vibes going on for one part of the book. In this book I felt some Game of Thrones vibes more than once. Things are getting serious. There's plenty of different plot threads woven together to create the plot of this book, everything with Char, Gareth, and Kyndra herself. There's lots of different intrigues. I personally enjoyed the complexities of the  plot, sure it meant there where slower parts but it wasn't so many as the first book and it all went towards developing the world, characters or previously mentioned plot so I can't really find a fault with it. It's not like it was pages of information that had nothing to do with anything if you know what I mean! 

Things really ramp up towards the end with even more betrayals and shock plot twists. I feel like the ending, much like the ending of Starborn, is a real game changer and kind of changes the landscape of the book. I'm not sure how to explain what I mean, like, Starborn for me was all about the journeying to the Hogwarts-esque place that Kyndra needed to go  and then at the end it was like BOOM. Completely mind blown and things changed. Then with this book, everything happens, it's a bit Game of Thrones-y and then we think we know how this is going to go but then BOOM another mind blowing plot twist that changes the game completely and for me made me reevaluate again where this story is going. 

Either way this series has really sucked me in with the rich world building and writing and the intricate plot. Not to mention the interesting characters that populate the book and all the other little touches that really hook you in to the books! Every time I think I've figured out what's going on, I'm completely blown away and I'm loving the pacing and just everything basically.  Once again, the way has been paved for the second book, and I'm excited to see what twists and turns are going to come next, and see where the story is going to take us. 

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