Book Review: Fireborn by Katie MacAlister

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Fireborn, the latest fantasy by bestselling paranormal romance author Katie MacAlister, launches a new series with a theme that diverges a bit from MacAlister’s previous work.  To be released on June 11, 2019, the Born Prophesy series is set in a magical realism Middle Ages type era during a time of war between the Fireborn, the children of light created by the goddess Kiriah, and the Starborn, the children of the heavens created by her twin Bellias.  While the Fireborn wield magic drawn from sun’s energy and their connection with nature, the Starborn harness arcane magic derived from the night’s starlight which flows through all living things.  The kingdoms are forced to face a new power who invade their realm, the Harborym, who draw their power from destructive chaos magic.

Three unlikely heroes form a tentative alliance to confront the Harborym.  Allegria is a young priestess of the temple of Kiriah who prefers honing her skills as a warrior and practicing Kiriah’s blessing of light magic than kneeling in silent prayer behind temple walls.  Hallow grew up as an orphan and an apprentice in need of a master to learn the skills of arcane magic.  Deo was noble born as a child of both sun and stars, expected to be the key to bringing peace between the two warring factions.

I was eager to read this book because I enjoyed MacAlister’s previous work, particularly her dragon novels.  Initially, I was drawn in by the premise of this book and the promise of a new world of magic.  However, I found the execution a bit disjointed.  It started strong with a scene between two characters who come together in the hopes of ushering in the Fourth Age and bringing peace to their two kingdoms through the birth of their son, Deo.  However, their motives behind not staying together and why they chose to have the mother raise the son for a bit and then turn him over to his father as he got older, is never explained.

Many intriguing characters were introduced, but their back stories were just slightly lacking, so it was difficult to become strongly emotionally invested in them or to understand where their loyalties fully stood.  Though the story was told from the viewpoint of Allegria, I felt more connected to Hallow because his character seemed more substantial.  The world built for this story was interesting, with its own set of myths, and each of the characters held a lot of promise.

“If only I’d managed to convince Lord Israel all those years ago to take me into his company. If only Sandor understood that I was better able to serve the temple by use of my bow and swords than the endless prayers to Kiriah. If only I was allowed to use the power that had been given to me at birth…”

MacAlister is able to weave a world with its own legends and rules of magic, deftly and believably, straight from the beginning of the book.  True to her signature style, MacAlister included several steamy sex scenes.  While incorporating some lighthearted humor, I was hoping for more of the irreverent whimsy she interlaced in her other series that had me unexpectedly laughing out loud on occasion.  (Specifically, Jim, the demon Newfoundland dog, in her Guardian series comes to mind as an example.)

Overall, I look forward to seeing where this series will lead us.  I hope that in the next book, she delves more deeply into a single character’s perspective and background story. I’d like to learn more about Deo’s motivations and why his parents made the decisions they did.  Is he truly the promised one to usher in the Fourth Age, or did he simply spark the catalyst to help bring about the one who would?

I was provided an advance review copy compliments of Kensington Publishing Corporation through NetGalley for the purpose of this impartial review.

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