Monday, 28 November 2011

Review: Lastborn - Rachel Forde

Extent: ebook (619 KB)
Publisher: self published
Pub Date: 4th July 2011

The exciting first installment of the Sixth Cycle series.

Nara-Ya is a pugnacious adolescent girl on the run from a powerful sorceress. Fate lands her in the company of her polar opposite, the soft-spoken Donovan Brennan, who is simultaneously struggling to lead a Resistance movement, regain a throne for a wronged King, and prevent a war between the land he lives in and the land of his birth.

Brennan walks a fine line between his principles and success; Nara-Ya, by contrast, knows what she has to do to survive, and circumstances shunt her towards the life of a fighter and warrior. However, as war looms, as her friendship with Donovan grows into something more, and as Nara-Ya is forced to confront her darker instincts, she begins to question her destiny, and is forced to make a decision that will alter the fate of their world.

Here’s one for those of you who like complex plots. Lastborn is a high fantasy novel crammed with diverse cultures, political unrest and interesting characters – plenty of material for a thoroughly engaging story and Rachel Forde does not fail to provide.

I have to say, I love a story that surprises me, gives me something new and refreshing to chew on and you’d be hard pressed to find a character more refreshing than Ayuma, the heroine of Lastborn. At first glance, she seems like quite a normal character, a heroine with spine but nothing more. As the story unfolds, however, it’s clear she’s a little bit more than that. Ayuma is clearly pretty damaged which is understanding seeing as she was enslaved and abused throughout her childhood. She’s uncontrollably violent at times, vengeful and clearly disturbed. Having said that, she is not unlikeable. I loved the way that Ayuma’s (lead female) and Donovan’s (lead male) roles are reversed – Ayuma is the strong, protective hero figure while Donovan is the meek and gentle one. I felt like jumping for joy to find a girl leading the way for once! Feisty, independent and strong heroines are my all time favourite characters and Ayuma’s dark, disturbed edge makes her wonderfully original and engaging. It’s great to see her grow and mature throughout the story too.

As I said before, Lastborn has a really complex plot but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s highly political and you have to keep up with which country is upset with which country and which people come from where (I was longing for a political map to help me out!) but once you’ve got the hang of that, it all gets rather intriguing. It makes the world that Rachel Forde has created very convincing and dynamic. There are clear influences from native American cultures as well as African and Western Victorian cultures, the author has captured an entire world within her pages and given it great depth. Plus there are some great baddies! My favourite has to be the Urqaani queen who reminds me of the White Witch from the Chronicles of Narnia, her mere presence has you trembling in your boots (or slippers in my case!) and she’s a great adversary to Ayuma. You don’t get much better than two incredibly strong and powerful women facing off against one another!

In all, I enjoyed Lastborn. It’s complexities create a dynamic world and an intriguing storyline. The characters are anything but dull and for the most part completely unexpected with wonderfully threatening antagonists. The writing was also of a quality that brought me moments of brilliant imaginative clarity, the scene easily taking place in my mind’s eye where I could see every detail.

Rachel recently contacted me, worried that she had wrongly classified her book as a young adult book but I would agree with her original assessment. Yes, there is some violence but it’s not overly graphic and nothing that an older teen couldn’t handle – you have to trust me on that one because I can’t watch films rated over a 12 or read adult books for fear an unwitting author plants something nasty in my far-too-vivid-to-be-good-for-me imagination. I’ve certainly read some young adult books that were more disturbing!

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful review! Once again you have managed to introduce a book to me that would have otherwise stayed unknown to me. This book sounds like one of true substance, and I love nothing more than a powerful and capable female lead. =)

    Side note: I am definitely going to participate in the Best of the Bunch awards for this month, so count me in!