Pros: Fantastic new world; intriguing exploration of the development of friendship and love in the context of war and racism
Cons: Somewhat predictable
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Annika is the half-blood daughter of the Na’Reish leader. She was created as vengeance against her human family, and her demon father feels nothing but loathing for her. She’s had to learn to be clever and light on her feet to avoid pain and humiliation at the hands of her father and his people, while hiding a great gift for healing—that can also kill.
Kalan is a Light Blade warrior captured by the Na’Reish. Annika wants to use him to escape, promising him freedom in exchange for safe passage to—and within—human territory. If her father’s people find them, they’ll kill her. Kalan may kill her himself if he doesn’t learn to trust her. And if they reach human territory, well, then things really become dangerous.
Together they must convince the Council of the Light Blade warriors that change is coming, and that the Na’Reish are even more dangerous and numerous than previously realized. But the council is hiding dangerous secrets, and some of them are afraid of what Annika might represent.
The worldbuilding in Kylie Griffin’s Vengeance Born (A Novel of the Light Blade) is wonderful. This is a creative world, with fascinating back-story and interesting characters. I could completely buy into and appreciate the difficulties the two leads faced in trusting each other and allowing themselves to feel for one another; in most contexts I’d be frustrated with the characters, but this was entirely understandable. The exploration of cross-racial relationships, particularly within the context of war, is lovely and touching.
The overall story arc is somewhat predictable, which is my only real negative. There are however some nice surprises along the way, and I particularly enjoyed seeing what happened once Annika found herself within the humans’ city. That’s when things truly get emotional and riveting, as racism, hatred, and old hurts threaten everything Annika and Kalan hold dear. I even ended up reading that part of the book a second time—it’s one of those fictions where it’s fascinating to go back and look at what came before knowing how the rest of the story ends. I’m certainly glad to have discovered Griffin’s Light Blade series.