**spoiler alert** I know I gave this book five stars, and I stick by this rating because despite the niggling bits I’m about to highlight, I really di**spoiler alert** I know I gave this book five stars, and I stick by this rating because despite the niggling bits I’m about to highlight, I really did enjoy reading it.
Kenyon’s Born of Shadows is the fourth installation in her League series, and so I was surprised to learn of another installation given the fact that the first three were written quite some time ago and have now been republished. Given the large gap between stories, I thought the League series was supposed to be a trilogy, but not only do we now have a fourth, we are set to be given a fifth book one in the near future. I thought the jump from one generation of fighters to another in books two and three meant things were wrapping up or moving on, but no, in Born of Shadows we find ourselves thrown back in time to pursue Caillen and his misadventures.
Having read and loved the previous books, I was not sure about reading Caillen’s story; he just didn’t seem likeable, especially in Born of Fire. Now that I’ve finished the book, I’m still not completely in love with him, but nor do I hate him. I thought his character was a little forced and more than a bit contradictory. He is described by all - including himself - as being a fierce fighter, intelligent, independent, and most importantly, incapable of falling for a woman. He was in no way ready to settle down and was adamant that he never wanted a wife and kids. Given these strong characteristics, I was a bit confused at each point in the novel where his actions or dialogue blatantly contradicted all previous proclamations of his character. Something else I found extremely odd throughout the book was his closed off personality, and yet he blurted out pretty much his entire life story to Desideria, all the while questioning her loyalty and being half convinced that she would knife him in the back the first chance she got. Not an intelligent move by a long shot in my opinion. In saying that, I still liked his playfulness and his devotion to his sisters - especially Kasen, who I could see any one wanting to strangle after being in her presence for more than a couple of minutes.
On to Desideria, then. I wanted to like her, I really did. But again, some of her attributes had her falling short in my opinion. She is described as being a fearless warrior, bred of a warrior race that shows no mercy in battle and where women are the stronger sex. Even taking into consideration that Desideria is only half Qillaq, I still found it frustrating every time she made a declaration about the strength/brutality of her people, and then followed up such a comment with a completely opposite action or piece of dialogue. I can’t recall any one instance at the moment - there were so many to choose from as well - but I really got tired of hearing her gloat about her heritage, and then promptly reacting in such a way that makes her out to be a liar. She’d spent her whole life training to survive, as she put it, but then relied so heavily on Caillen when they were under attack and on enemy soil, that without him she would have been caught in a matter of minutes.
The ending was predictable, but I won’t hold that against Kenyon. I am hard pressed these days to find a novel that leaves me in shock by the end of it.
I wasn’t a big fan of all the twists and turns. Sometimes one has to sit back and really think, “Was that last twist just one too many?” Unfortunately I have to say Kenyon should have had that thought five twists before the resolution popped up. There were far too many, and just when you thought things were beginning to wrap up nicely, it was like “Oh, hold on, so it wasn’t the aunt, it was the daughter that’s just been apprehended. Oh, but wait, the daughter’s only a pawn, and it’s the other aunt who’s the mastermind. Quick! Catch her before she gets on her ship and leaves you all in her wake.” Cue massive fight sequence #8. Or was it #9? Then cue massive, maybe fatal wounding of main character…again!
I hate to admit this, but by the last 20 pages of the book, I didn’t really care for the resolution of the assassination attempt or the happily ever after, because I was so exhausted having made it through the convoluted plot.
One thing that really concerned me was how ALL of the characters seemed to possess the same witty sarcasm. I would have thought Fain incapable of it with the way he was described. I even recall Caillen being shocked when he first encountered Fain and the guy spoke two whole sentences instead of his usual one word answer. Then weirdly, as soon as we take note of Caillen’s surprise, Fain decides he doesn’t have an off switch and the sarcasm flows out of his mouth at an alarming rate. The illusion created about his fierceness and stoic demeanour is shattered and I must admit I was kind of saddened about that. The rest of the supporting characters were the exact same, and it kind of made them blur until you couldn’t discern one from the other and none of them were memorable.
Now after all my complaining it’s hard to believe I’ve given this five stars, right? No, it was no mistake. I give it five stars because despite my misgivings, Kenyon is still one of the best writers I have ever had the pleasure of reading her work, and although this particular novel might not have been up to her usual standards in my opinion, it is still a masterpiece, and I envy her talent....more
This story was a lovely reminder of why I love Simone Elkeles' work.
As is common with her stories, I was sucked in from the very beginning, caught upThis story was a lovely reminder of why I love Simone Elkeles' work.
As is common with her stories, I was sucked in from the very beginning, caught up in the whirlwind of emotions emanating from both Caleb and Maggie. I loved the complexity of the characters and the extensive detail paid to both character's personalities. Written in both Maggie's and Caleb's perspective it was interesting being able to see their different thought processes and how they related to each other. The plot was very believable and I thought Elkeles' weaved it together perfectly to create a very compelling love story. It's always nice to read a book where the main characters have to go through a hardship (or several) in order to be together, and even then the relationship is far from perfect. It makes the love between them seem stronger, more vibrant and shows how unrelenting they are in letting someone take it from them.
All in all, I enjoyed it immensely, not being able to put it down once I started. An easy 5 stars!!...more