Lightborn by Allison Sinclair

There have been a couple times when I’ve started a series unknowingly out of order. Then there are times when I need to read only one book in a series, and I don’t feel like reading all the books that lead up to the one I’m expected to read. Either way I’m taking a chance on whether or not I’ll be able to follow what’s happening. I’ve had it where I’ve started reading the fourth book in a series and I’m able to follow it perfectly; and then I’ve had it where I’ve jumped to the second book and have only been able to follow what was happening halfway. Unfortunately for me, my experience with Lightborn by Allison Sinclair was more of the latter than the former.

The Darkborn aristocracy has rejected magic, viewing the pursuit of science as the only worthy goal. But Lady Telmaine Hearne does not have that luxury. She has kept her own powers secret, fearful of being ruined in society…until her husband Balthasar draws her into a conspiracy to protect the archduke and his brother against a magical enemy. But who will protect them from her?

Lightborn is the second in the Darkborn trilogy, and the first in the trilogy that I’ve read. When I started this book I was fully aware of that. I knew nothing of the story or it’s characters, but I was hoping that there would be enough back story and explanations along the way. Don’t get me wrong, there was some, but not nearly enough for me to fully follow everything that was going on. For example: Sonn was something that the character’s did often. However, I couldn’t exactly pinpoint what sonn was. From inference I gathered that it’s a sort of emotional radar, a way to tell what others are feeling, but I’m not sure. The story overall would have benefited greatly if it had a least one or two sentences in the beginning explaining what sonn was. Especially since it was done so often. Every time someone walked in a room, was having a conversation, or wanted to know another persons feelings they used sonn. It’s more than likely that the concept was introduced in the first of this trilogy, but having skipped to the second book I had no real idea what it was. Through most of the book, I was trying to figure it out and that greatly affected my experience with Lightborn.

Admittedly, I know that I should have read the first book. The above paragraph probably wouldn’t even be needed had I done that, but it irritates me to know that this could have been solved so easily. There could have been a glossary of terms in the beginning of the book. That would have allowed me to fully focus on the story instead of trying to work out what some of the terms throughout the entire book meant.

That complaint out of the way, I will say that, from what I could follow, I fully enjoyed the story and the characters were well developed. That’s to say that they each had their own personalities, and interacted well together. Lady Telmaine was competent, if not a tad over confident in dealing with her growing powers and trying to protect Lord Vladimir. Having been assigned to protect him, she more often then not is caught in his mind games that he likes to play. And although Lord Vladimir is not necessarily the good guy by any means, I found myself liking him more than any other character. He wasn’t afraid to do what he needed in order to get what he wanted, and I found myself admiring his quick wit.

Vladimer’s quick wit is needed with all of the politics that play out in Lightborn. His brother being the Archduke of the Darkborn certainly adds to the need for his sharp mind. Especially since it seems that everybody, no matter what side they are on, is out for each other. I felt like I was watching a game of CLUE play out when the Lightborn prince was murdered. Every single person was suspect, and it was interesting seeing who was the actual murderer and why.

So, to sum everything up, I really recommend reading the first in this Trilogy, Darkborn, before you jump into Lightborn by Alison Sinclair. Take it from me, this is not a book that is easily understood if you do actually read the books out of order. I suspect that if you do read them in the correct order that you might have no complaints about Lightborn. Because once I fought my way through a couple words that I couldn’t understand, I actually was able to get into the story, and it’s ending had me quite curious as to what was going to happen next.

Read Order:
Shadowborn (6/7/11)

Also reviewed by: SF Signal and Drey’s Library


  1. Reading books in order is one of the few things that I’m OCD about, and for exactly the reason you described. With all of these series today, you just never know whether it’s one that you can pick up in the middle, or if you’ve got to start at the beginning. Since I was interested in the second book and not as much in the first, it’s good to know that it would be best not to start off with it. Thanks for the review.

  2. I havene’t tried this series yet but it does sound intriguing…will be looking more in to this series. I’m like JenM I have to read the books in order…if i’m unsure whether what # it is i’ll probably look it up to make sure. Great review jennifer.

  3. I really enjoyed Darkborn but haven’t read the follow up just yet. I’d definitely recommend checking it out if you have the chance (or still have the inclination).

  4. I just read both books, and I can’t imagine trying to read LB before DB — it’s rather like starting Lord of the Rings with the Two Towers. It’s clear from your experience that you can follow the storyline of the one book, but it seems to me, looking over the landscape of both, that you’re missing a whole big chunk of the story.

    Sonning is like sonar; it enables the Darkborn to sense textures such as facial expressions and also to find out where things are in space when the space is unfamiliar. The trouble with sonn is that someone can tell when you’re doing it, so no covert observation.

    I can’t wait for Shadowborn to come out this June…

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