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Darkborn (Darkborn #1)

3.41 of 5 stars 3.41  ·  rating details  ·  912 ratings  ·  179 reviews
A new romantic fantasy of magic, manners, and espionage that is also a "fast-paced thriller" (Carol Berg).

For the Darkborn, sunlight kills. For the Lightborn, darkness is fatal. Living under a centuries-old curse, the Darkborn and the Lightborn share the city of Minhorne, coexisting in an uneasy equilibrium but never interacting. When Darkborn physician Balthasar Hearne f
Paperback, 352 pages
Published May 5th 2009 by Roc Trade (first published April 7th 2009)
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Community Reviews

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I'm torn on this one. Wavering between three stars and four. On the one hand, Darkborn was elegantly written. My inner editor hardly made a peep. In fact, I have a little bit of a soft spot for fiction written with older, literate language.

Dialogue exactly suited the period, albeit in an alternate universe with magic, and the characters-- and I was so thankful for these characters, who, to the last, are all intelligent individuals moving in shades of gray. No one argues when they're told to sta
Many years ago there was Imogene, a mage who cursed the entire land. Half of its inhabitants live in sunlight; the other half can't stand darkness. The Darkborn are born blind but have a sonar sense called sonn, which is described as unheard sound. The Lightborn and Darkborn live in the same city and the same land but in different societies. While the Lightborn accept magic, the Darkborn consider it a taboo and embrace technology.

Balthasar Hearne is a man worth his weight in gold. He is a doctor
This book had a lot going for it: a gorgeous cover, an awesome world-building concept, a 'society fantasy' with historical feel but magical twists. Alas, it fell somewhat short of the mark.

Even so, I give props for brainstorming. Imagine a vaguely-Victorian city that's shared between two populations -- a race that can't live in light & a race that can't live in darkness. Some of these people manage to share house complexes. For a Lightborn & Darkborn to split their building -- with acces
I couldn't finish this. I tried to read it, the idea sounded good, but I just couldn't do it. I made it about 50 pages in, but it was definately slogging through, hoping it would get better. I couldn't identify with any of the characters, the names of the lead character's wife and the lady who had the baby were similar enough that I had a hard time telling them apart. I felt like I was thrown into a completely different world without any explanation about how it worked. I was having trouble even ...more
Sharon ✽ is an emotional book junkie ✽
This is a story of two different type of people living side by side in supposed harmony. Throw in another type and there can only be trouble ... at least so far.

A powerful mage and her followers cursed the people a thousand or so years ago. The Darkborn can only live in the dark and the Lightborn only the light and who knows about the Shadowborn except they are trouble. And that begins with Tercelle showing up on Balthasar's doorstop right before sunrise ... and pregnant, ready to give birth at
Kelley Ceccato
Like Gail Carriger's Soulless, this is a book that earned its fourth star in the last hundred pages. The books actually have a crucial similarity: both have heroines who take their own sweet time becoming awesome, and then at last they come into their own and our patience with them is rewarded.

I'll get the negative out of the way first. It took me a while to start to like Telmaine, although I'm willing to admit the problem may be more with me than with the book. I'm naturally impatient with the
I really enjoyed this one - more than I thought I would. What looks like another standard fantasy/paranormal romance is actually a political intrigue/adventure novel. An engrossing 'world' with an interesting magic system, and the underlying 'curse' which sundered the people into the Darkborn and the Lightborn, two societies which operate independently, but share the same space in the capital city. I thought the Darkborn were going to be some kind of vampiric race, this assumption not helped by ...more
The author herself, in her bio for this book, states that this started as "a meditation on the use of light and dark motifs in fantasy". And... then she created a series of books about those elements making epic war on each other. With overly formal dialogue. And REDONKULOUS names. That's about all you need to know.

In other words, if you're feeling down, pick up this book. I swear, if this shiz doesn't make you crack a smile at the hilariousness of the decline of western civilization, I don't kn
It is so refreshing to read a fantasy novel in which the main characters, Balthasar and Telmaine, are married and stick together through the difficult places in the plot, even through temptation. The story is family-oriented, which is nice.

I love the world the author has created. Contrast is one of my favourite things, and what's a better contrast than light to dark? The way she explains the Darkborn, and how their society works in conjunction with that of the Lightborn, and the existence and d
“Nachtgeboren” handelt von einem Land, indem Nacht- und Lichtgeborene gemeinsam in Frieden leben. Während die Lichtgeborenen tagsüber ihre Leben bestreiten und Dank des Lichts sehen können, leben die Nachtgeborenen, wenn die Dunkelheit die Sonne vertreibt und orientieren sich lediglich mit Hilfe ihres Ultraschalls und ihren anderen Sinnen. So unterschiedlich wie beide Rassen sind verbindet sie dieser immer gegenwärtige Fluch, wie ebenfalls die Magie. Doch wo die Lichtgeborenen forschen un
Darkborn crept up on me. The beginning was slow, and overladen with awkward exposition. I think it was around page 60, halfway through an aristrocratic party, when all the little details about dress and art and social norms started to build in my head and I realized just how carefully the author had thought through her society of the blind.

The adventure story is fun, but it's that aspect of the book--its worldbuilding--that bumped it toward the top of my currently reading list. This is a book th
Darkborn is set in a victorian world where a curse from a powerful mage hundreds of years ago has divided its people into the Darkborn, Lightborn and Shadowborn.
The Darkborn can only live in darkness, are born blind and use Sonn (a form of sonar) to scan their surroundings. They despise magic - the few practitioners are shunned by society - but are very interested in technology and scientific inventions. The Lightborn can only live in constant light and are powerful magic users. They both have
Lee Anne
I picked this up at a Borders' sale, was suckered in by the cover and concept, and pleasantly surprised by the story. I'd technically give it 3 1/2 stars: I want to read the rest, but the sporadic adult content means I can't recommend it to the people I would usually give it to, and the story is not so fantastic as to make my recommended list.

That said, kudos to Alison Sinclair for creating a fantasy world with just enough history, realism, and originality to make the story compelling and the f
The premise of the story was initially nice. You have the pregnant lady coming at the break of dawn asking for help, you expect her to die, but she just goes ahead and gives birth to not just one, but twin abominations (so to speak). Then that one act of goodness turns into a curse when Bal's own daughter is kidnapped and he gets the living daylights beaten out of him and then his wife becomes the heroine of the story as a sad result. Of course, the story would have been nice if the rest had fol ...more
I suspect that I am going to be really sad when I finish the final book in this trilogy. Darkborn is a fabulous read and I am expecting great things from Lightborn and Shadowborn. Alison Sinclair is an assured writer in full control of her story. And what a story it is. The Lightborn and the Darkborn co-exist in the city of Minhorne--the Lightborn by day and the Darkborn by night. The setting is very Victorian as to manners, mores, and physical environment. There is magic in this world, but the ...more
Shelley aka Gizmo's Reviews
Synopsis: For the Darkborn, sunlight kills. For the Lightborn, darkness is fatal. Living under a centuries-old curse, the Darkborn and the Lightborn share the city of Minhorne, coexisting in an uneasy equilibrium but never interacting. When Darkborn physician Balthasar Hearne finds a pregnant fugitive on his doorstep just before sunrise, he has no choice but to take her in.

Tercelle Amberley's betrothed is a powerful Darkborn nobleman named Ferdenzil, but her illicit lover came to her through the
Apr 25, 2010 Jared rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who like "Sorcery and Cecilia"
Recommended to Jared by: some amazon list
An incredibly powerful magician and her helpers cast a spell a few thousand years ago that resulted in the division of people into Lightborn, those able to see and bear the light, killed by darkness; Darkborn, those who lack the ability to see by light but can "see" by a variant of sonar, killed by light; and Shadowborn, monsters. This story follows intrigues among the Darkborn.

The world is beautifully and richly crafted. The author does a great job of describing a world without visual descripti
I loved that this world was so different from anything I had read before. It reminded a little of Poison Study by Maria Snyder in atmosphere - a little dark in places but with great characters and settings that made you feel like you were there. I will definitely be recommending this to people who can't wait for the next Maria Snyder book to come out. It does take a little effort to get through the first 50 pages but after that it is great. There is no mention of color but lots of tactile clues ...more
Robin Wright
I am kicking myself for putting this on the back shelf for so long. Alison Sinclair drops you into a fantasy world that is complex, beautiful, and fortifying--much like a glass of vintage wine. Her writing is lyrical, her characters are distinct, and her world building is immaculate. I am VERY happy that this is going to be a series--I am definitely not ready to let these characters go.

The world she creates is genius--a world set in out past yet different. It's not quite steampunk, perhaps magic
One of my pet peeves in sci-fi/fantasy books is when authors use a made-up term and then neglect to explain that term for several pages after they first use it. I cannot handle books that do that. In this book, the term "sonned" is used and then explained a dozen pages later. Not cool. I lost the thread of the book trying to figure out what the heck these people were doing to each other, and I never was able immerse myself in the story thereafter, which is too bad, because the plot intrigued me. ...more
You know what? I really enjoyed this book. It's a cool fantasy novel where two kinds of people live side by side in the same city: those who can only exist in darkness, and those who can only exist in the light. They share the same streets, the same businesses, and in some cases the same apartment buildings, but can never meet because the merest sliver of light would kill the Darkborn, and the darkness would kill the Lightborn.

Anyway, I don't read hardly any fantasy, but this one was fast paced
joy *the clean-reader extraordinaire*
i had a hard time classifying this one. it's definitely fantasy, but what subgenre? i don't know.

any book that earns a cover blurb from Sharon Shinn is a book for me!

highly original and engaging mythology and concepts ... the darkborn are all blind, with sonar-like abilities instead of sight

a little too much intrigue

pg13 yellow for a kidnapping, poisoning, murder, and peril -- political and physical

Great premise for a series, but probably not the best writer to do it. I haven't read her other titles, but her writing is sometimes difficult to understand, and since she is writing fantasy about a different kind of people, she doesn't really explain the different abilities she assigns them--she gives the abilities made up names, so it is up to the reader to ascertain what she is talking about. Which is fine, but it was about two chapters into it that I understood what "sonn" was.
Kiera Healy
I picked this up on a whim. The conceit is interesting enough: it's a fantasy set in a city divided in two, with half the population being unable to live in dark, the other half unable to live in light. The two societies function side by side, but distrust each other.

The fantasy world is richly drawn, and the magic is done well. I liked the characters, too - there's a refreshing lack of good guys and bad guys, and everyone is depicted in shades of grey. I really liked the start of this novel, an
I almost gave this two stars but had to give it one because I skipped so many parts that were uninteresting to me. I plowed ahead because I was mildly interested in two of the characters - Telmaine and Ishmael, and I needed to finish the book for a challenge I'd set. If it weren't for the challenge I wouldn't have finished the book. I have no desire to read the rest of the trilogy.
May 03, 2010 Rebecca rated it 1 of 5 stars
Shelves: dnf
I stopped at 72 pages. About 70 of those were devoted to politics, class system, fashion, and backstory. I found the amount of worldbuilding overwhelming and tedious, particularly since it completely overshadowed the tiny segment of plot I would have liked to see more of.

The cover artist (Melanie Delon) gets 5 stars, though. It's beautiful artwork.
Jafumbwa Asad-pratt
I very move enjoyed the care that the author took in building the world of the dark and light-born. Despite being so different it was relatable and easy to imagine. The story had me from the beginning and the momentum built and coninued from there. Can't wait to read the next one in the series.
I found this one to be confusing. There were concepts and words that were integral to the story, but they weren't explained and even after reading for many pages I couldn't figure out just what it was. After more than 50 pages of this I decided to give up, this one just wasn't for me.
Aug 18, 2009 M rated it 1 of 5 stars
Shelves: fantasy
I skip read this, after about the first third. Premise was quite good, but all too obvious by end that only the first in trilogy. Darkborn characters cannot bear sunlight or see, they 'son' each other. Mages can heal. Number of deaths after seeing children born to darkborn mother.
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
This is a cross between urban fantasy and mannerpunk, likely to move into epic fantasy in the sequels. By which I mean it mixes action scenes and captures/escapes/rescues with formal social encounters and an adherence to societal norms, all of it with a potential Ultimate Evil brewing in the background. My thoughts on all aspects of the book are mixed, so I'll take them one at a time.

The Worldbuilding: This book's novelty is primarily in its world, divided into two societies, Darkborn and Lightb
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Alison Sinclair is a science fiction and fantasy author.
More about Alison Sinclair...
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“Bal," she whispered, her forehead resting against his chest as the seconds counted away. "The only power I'd wish for is the power to turn back time.” 2 likes
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