Title: Harbinger ( Fate’s Forsaken #1)
Author: Shae Ford
Publication Date: July 30, 2012
I received a copy from the author for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion in any way.
Seventeen years ago, a long and bloody rebellion wracked the six united regions of the Kingdom. Now the new King wields the vast and unvanquished army of Midlan with his right hand, and with his left has granted a small group of thugs — the nobles he calls his Sovereign Five — unbridled rule over the other regions. As if this weren’t bad enough, the King has also outlawed the practice of whispering — which is a problem for Kael.
It’s not like he asked to be born a whisperer: he didn’t ask for his strange healing powers anymore than he asked to be the village runt. And when he rescues a wounded girl from the perils of the Unforgivable Mountains, his luck only gets worse. She couldn’t have been just any girl: she had to be Kyleigh —the sword-wielding renegade knight with all of Midlan on her trail. Then one miserable, snowy evening, things go from bad to worse, and Kael is left with no choice but to follow Kyleigh down the mountains and into the tumultuous lowlands. She leads him on one mad quest after the next — eventually pulling off an act of such mischievous proportions that it threatens to change the Kingdom as they know it.
Well, this was a fun, epic fantasy complete with a dragon-girl, other were-creature, a naive coming-of-age hero, a unique magic system, pirates , quests, mischief and humour. I thought it was brilliant, well-written and an enjoyable read. I’m so happy to have books 2 – 4 ready for when I’m ready to continue this adventure.
The plot is pretty clearcut. We have a tyrant king who have tried his best to get rid of all the Whisperers, one group of the magic-wielders in this world, subjugated the mages and were-creatures with the use of spells and curses. As fate would have it, not all of the Whisperers were killed! Our hero, Kael , is one of those who survived the culling and he also happens to be a special kind of Whisperer, living in the Unforgivable Mountains, keeping his talent hidden, He is the runt in this community and longs for adventure. When he rescues a young lady, he has no idea that she is the infamous Dragon Girl, on the run from the tyrant king. He is about to get the adventure he craves in spades and to put his whispering talents to the test as he goes up against a corrupt empire. Along the way, he will gain confidence, find himself, make new friends and new alliances and go on many an adventure.
I really enjoyed this the first book in a so far quadrilogy. It is definitely slower paced and simpler to hose sprawling epic fantasies I’m accustomed to but I felt that only worked in its favour. It’s tone is also significantly lighter than the grim dark fantasies so popular in recent times. The world building was adequate; I mean I had a clear picture of the world and the main players without too much descriptive scenes which is enough for me. The prose is clear and concise without any flowery purposeless passages which made it quick and easy reading.
The characters are developing; there is room for growth but since there are four novels thus far in the series, I think they will do so. The main characters have already shown significant growth especially in Kael’s case, who has to learn to wield his talent and is still discovering that the only limits he has are those he places on himself.
I’m a sucker for magic systems and I can honestly say this Whispering magic system is well thought-out and executed. I like that one’s talent is only limited perhaps by one’s imagination. It does mean you have to suspend your imagination quite a lot but hell, it’s fantasy! I for one, had no problem with it and thought it was pretty cool. I do hope I get to see it in action more in the other books though.
The pacing is not as fast as I would have liked but it was in no way boring or slow. It felt natural to be able to follow along on this journey with Kael, see his blunders and grow to connect with him as a character. Was he the bravest, most manly and self-assured character? No, but that’s just what I like about him. I get to watch his growth both in confidence and his talents.
Harbinger has all the requirements of a fantasy without being too dark and heavy. With its intricate yet concise prose, likeable, memorable characters, adventure, magical intrigue, and a wide array of fantastical creatures, it slowly drew me into this world and held my attention throughout. I can’t wait to read the rest of this series.
Shae Ford is the USA Today bestselling author of the Fate’s Forsaken series, and a lifelong Texan. Born as arguably the quietest child in a raucous (but wonderful) extended family, Shae spent much of her early years daydreaming about the places and characters inside her head. She went to Texas A&M University (Whoop!) with every intention of becoming a geneticist. But wound up with an English degree, instead.
Shae published her debut novel, Harbinger, a few years later at the age of twenty-three. Though she had no idea what she was doing, fantasy readers from all over the world seemed to fall in love with her characters — characters who’d been with her for many years, through thick and thin. Her readers’ heartfelt admissions ultimately encouraged her to keep writing.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
The Fate’s Forsaken series follows the story of Kael: a young man who is gifted with extraordinary powers, but plagued by rotten bad luck. Having the chance to share his many (mis)adventures with readers all over the world has been the opportunity of a lifetime, and a journey Shae will never forget.