Thursday, September 12, 2013

Shadowborn by Moira Katson

Release date: April 8, 2013
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Format: Ebook
Source: Purchased
Pages: 320
Buy the book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBookstore
(Hey, y'all! It's freeeee!)
“You, Catwin, no longer exist. You no longer have a fate of your own, a will of your own, or indeed a soul of your own. You will go where Miriel goes, you will watch instead of being watched, you will hear instead of being heard.”

Catwin has always been good at being unseen…that is, until one fateful mistake brings her to the attention of the Duke of Voltur: the commander of the bloodiest battle in living memory, a man of legendary ruthlessness who is determined to be the power behind the throne. To this end, he has chosen Catwin to be a Shadow—spy, shield, and blade—to his niece Miriel as she works to catch the eye of the King.

But the Duke’s carefully laid plans are only a piece of the intrigue swirling within the royal court. Shadows gather: legacies of the centuries-long rivalries for power, old betrayals, the endless plots of the courtiers, and the murmur of rebellion in the southern provinces.

Greater forces than Catwin can imagine are massed against her, determined to eliminate Miriel and impose a new order of their own. If Catwin and Miriel are to survive, they must learn quickly who to trust, and when to turn their skills against the very people who have trained them...
Fantasy has been my favorite genre to read for, like, forever. I go through spells where I'm not especially mentally prepared to read it, but every time I read one I get so happy and remember exactly why it's my favorite genre. Shadowborn is no exception. It promises court intrigue and assassin-y fun, and that's exactly what you get!

Catwin lives with a prophecy over her head, a prophecy that made her mother give her up the day she was born. Catwin will be betrayed, and that betrayal will change the balance. She doesn't know any more, but that prophecy haunts her, even as she rockets toward its conclusion. She begins the book as a daring and mischievous child but becomes a calculating and discerning young adult--over a relatively short period of time. Catwin really isn't sure she wants to be a part of what she's gotten herself into, especially at first, but she knows there is no way out. She has to live her decisions to their conclusion, and it's great to read.

The relationship between Catwin and Miriel is really fascinating. It's a constant give and take between them, and they're never really friends, at least in a traditional sense. They're allies, and they're growing to trust one another through trial and error. Each is young and petty and believes the other to think little of them, so it's a hard-earned balance, but it's so fun to read. In many ways, I think--as much as the book is about the state of the country and its balance--the book is really about the light and dark of Miriel and Catwin. Who is the light and who is the dark, really?

There's not a ton of traditional action here. Most of the story is court intrigue and training of the girls, but that's really interesting to read--at least to me! We're given a really great groundwork for the entire series; not only do we know the history of the country, but we're familiar with all of the major players and know their general motives. I think this will set the stage for some really action-packed sequels!

And can I mention that I loved the writing style? A lot of books adopt a general style that would work for any genre any time, but Moira writes in a style that perfectly fits this book. It's formalized and a little antiquated in structure--and I LOVED it.

Shadowborn is a standout fantasy novel and has everything I love. It's got characters that are flawed but likable, a medieval setting, a lovely sense of foreboding, drama drama drama, and a friendship that's just waiting to blossom. Moira Katson has created a world that utterly intrigues me and I can't wait to get back into it! (And, hey! There's nothing to lose in trying it; this book--the first--is free!)

Moira Katson writes Fantasy and Science Fiction novels. Born and raised in the farmland of the eastern United States, she is now a transplant living in the oft-frigid wastes of the midwest, where she is learning to love hot dish, fried food on a stick, ice fishing, and the hilarious faces her friends make when she tells them about winter temperatures.

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