(2015) Lucy Hounsom, Pan, £8.99, pbk, vi + 495pp, ISBN 978-1-447-26855-0
Starborn is the debut novel from Lucy Hounsom. It is the first in the new 'Worldmaker' trilogy and is a nostalgic-filled story that feels like it was written in the 1980’s, a time when epic fantasy stories were becoming increasingly popular. As with many traditional fantasy stories, this one focuses on a quest, but Lucy Hounsom also puts her own twist onto the tale, making it a unique and memorable tale.
This novel focuses on the character of Kyndra, who comes of age but storm and an accident sees the blame for the resulting damage go to Kyndra. Saved by two strangers, they escape to the city of Naris. There she will be shown how to make use of her nascent powers whilst discovering the evil that is rising.
This novel is clearly a set-up for the rest of the series. However, Lucy Hounsom manages to keep the pace of the plot moving whilst introducing the reader to the main cast of characters that they will be following throughout the series. One of the distinguishing elements of this novel compared to other similar stories available is the character of Kyndra. Whilst the reader may expect a well-mannered and slightly confident hero, they instead get a disrespectful and slightly self-centred character. Kyndra has many qualities of the character of Vin, the hero in the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson. Kyndra, like Vin, also needs guidance to understand what she must do and to adapt to interacting with people. Throughout the novel the reader gets to see the development of Kyndra through her relationship with other characters.
The novel focuses heavily on characterisation whilst the plot is moves slowly at first, but then gathers with the introduction of Naris to swiftly move along. The epic fantasy element of the story and the highly character driven plot bring several authors to mind. Karen Miller and Trudi Canavan created strong characters to ensure their series found a place on reader’s bookshelves and its clear Lucy Hounsom looked to those novels for inspiration in her characters and story. Inspiration also seems to of been drawn from David Eddings, an author known for his epic fantasy series focusing on the traditional ‘farm boy discovers he has a magical power’ story plot. These authors are known for their amazing works in the genre and it seems clear that Lucy Hounsom will be joining them in their ranks as some of the leading figures in fantasy writing today.
Lucy Hounsoms novel is a great start to a series that will inspire and delight readers of many ages. Although the story is limited, the return of magical powers and the finale of the novel make the next novel an eagerly awaited read that will be on the top of many readers list. A strong debut that gives a strong female hero in a time when the fantasy genre needs it.
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