The Godborn by Paul S. Kemp – New Fantasy Authors

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The Sundering #2 – 4 of 5 stars

I received this book for free from Wizards of the Coast publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Confession: I have a problem when it comes to the fantasy genre of sticking with my tried and true authors – mainly Tolkien, R.A. Salvatore, J.K. Rowling (of course), and Terry Goodkind (although after reading what he really thinks about himself, I’m pretty sure I’m off that train – see this interview).

So after doing a little bit of research on The Sundering Series, I figured it would be the perfect way to discover new fantasy authors because (1) The series is headed off by R.A. Salvatore who I know I love. (2) The books are considered stand alone as each of them are about about a different world within the Forgotten Realms. (3) Wizards of the Coast chose the authors they consider to be their best to participate in this series. Sounds perfect to me!

The Godborn was, therefore, the first book I read by a fantasy author that I am unfamiliar with. I feel really accomplished right now!

The story starts with Varra (great name, right?) She’s running from something, and she’s pregnant. She ends up in a wildflower field where a shadowwalker touches her stomach and “changes” the baby. Then, she suddenly is able to magically wish herself to safety. The place that she unknowingly wishes herself to is 70 years in the future at the Abbey of the Rose. She dies in childbirth, and baby Vasen is left for the people of the light to raise. Skip ahead 30 years – Vasen is one of the First Blade, the protectors of the Oracle and very powerful with his gift of the light. He was born of shadow but studies the light – it is this that makes him the key to saving the world and also sought by powerful evil for an end to their means. So the journey begins with our hero Vasen Cale..

This book is extremely well written – I was literally getting a vocabulary lesson the entire time; however, it did not distract from the story. This story was darker than the typical fantasy that I go for – there was a lot of brutal and vivid killing, and the fighting scenes were explained in gory detail – but I found it essential to the story. The characters, even the small ones, were developed in such a way that you get to really know the plight of the people living in darkness and you truly understand the extent of the evil that is threatening to end the world.

I’m sure that a fantasy author trying to write a standalone novel is not an easy task, because most authors develop their world throughout several series and have so much rich, imagined history woven in. I had to read this book slowly at the beginning to make sure I wasn’t missing any details, but for the amount of backstory that had to be told, Kemp did an amazing job. I never felt lost or confused.

Vasen Cale is the type of character that draws you in and keeps you rooting for his outcome. I loved the combination of light and darkness. Vasen himself is a contradiction and proves that what is considered “bad” is not always bad. Perceptions are not always correct. There is tue evil in the world and then there are just prejudices.

He didn’t know how much more apetite he had for any of it. The things he’d seen…

The Godborn is rich in detail, action, character development, and vivid themes. It will make your soul hurt for the people suffering but smile with the victory throughout. Overall, I’m intrigued and will continue on in The Sundering series.

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