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Shadowborn by Alison Sinclair

Shadowborn - Alison Sinclair

I enjoyed this final book in the trilogy, though not as much as Lightborn. Using the first third of the book to catch up on a plotline that runs concurrently with the second book works fairly well, and though the ending is rushed and leaves some threads hanging, it isn’t as bad as I’d been led to believe.


This is the book that shifts the focus to fighting Shadowborn, but as a reader not crazy about action scenes I enjoyed these parts without feeling that the fighting dragged on too long. Unfortunately, characters tend to be blasé about events that ought to be horrifying; for instance, Telmaine never does seem to care much about the supposed best friend who took a bullet for her and died in her arms (presumably because the supposed best friend lacks plot importance), nor, despite their posturing at the end of the last book, are the Lightborn appropriately furious or frightened by faceless enemies attacking the heart of their power, in a way that threatens their survival as a people. Instead they simply take the opportunity to maneuver for advantage, presumably because author and readers know the Darkborn won’t repeat it and aren’t really trying to wipe them out. It is too bad the author felt this trilogy needed evil villains as an organizing principle, because far more interesting conflicts are brushed aside to make room for fighting them.


Still, I did enjoy these books. There are some very strong moments and unexpected plot twists, and somewhere along the way these characters endeared themselves to me. Sinclair is especially good at creating strong secondary characters: my favorites were Olivede, Phoebe, Farquhar, and Laurel. (Laurel is notable for being not only badass but also pregnant. Not for any plot-related reason, not to create some cheap tearjerker moment, but because while you wouldn't know it from most fantasy, people can't reproduce without sometimes being pregnant.) And I appreciate that despite the focus on it in the first book, the love quadrilateral doesn’t take over the story and that the author doesn’t pair everyone off at the end.


Overall, this is a fun fantasy trilogy that, while it has plenty of flaws, is still as good as many more popular works and deserves more attention than it gets. Not world-changing, but a good find and enjoyable while it lasted.