** A Note **
I still do not have my computer situation sorted out, so this review is being posted in a strictly blog format until such a time as I can begin editing video again.
This month’s review is of Birthright by M.A. Vice. It is the first book of the Impavidus Cycle, a foundational trilogy. The author has plans for additional spin-offs within the world. Like The Fires of Treason last month, this is a book I came across on Twitter. I’ve had many lovely Twitter interactions with Meg, and I can definitely recommend her as a great follow on that platform.
Kindle estimates the book at 525 pages and 10 hours and 41 minutes of reading time. The actual paperback weighs in at 614 pages. It is currently available in English with no current plans for translation. The author is however currently in talks with a voice actor to record the audio version, so keep a lookout for that!
About the Author
From the author’s Amazon bio:
M. A. Vice is a novelist and artist from the pacific northwest USA. A deep love for fantasy and history, which began early in her life, inspired a passion for writing and has continued to ever since. She enjoys creating epic tales about overcoming adversity and finding family, with a decent helping of political intrigue and mystery. When she is not writing, she enjoys creating illustrations, playing her favorite video games with friends, and exploring the pacific northwest woods with her family.M. A. Vice – Amazon.com
While working on this review, I asked if there was anything specific she’d like me to share with you. She asked that I share with you that she is an autistic author, and that Albtraum, the main character, is an autistic character.
So, what’s super cool about this book is that the cover art is in fact a work by the author. In addition to being a talented writer, she is also a very talented artist.
I don’t know if the cover would have convinced me to buy the book, but I don’t have any stylistic complaints. I think the dark tones really suit the tone of the book, and of course its hard to argue with the author’s vision of their own character. I might have liked a little more contrast between the the text and the gray-on-gray background, but that’s pretty nitpick.
Exterior 4 teaspoons
Next is the interior. The ebook did not have any major formatting issues. The chapters and scenes were well delineated. The one thing that kind of bugged me/left me confused were some early scenes/chapters that were in italics. It didn’t quite dawn on me at first that these were flashbacks/dreams. I’m not sure from a formatting perspective what could have been done to make that clearer, but I found the large chunks of italics a little difficult to read.
The paperback had some stylistic choices that I didn’t care for. Left aligned texted, extra spacing between paragraphs, that sort of thing. It didn’t really hurt readability. I do think some space (and therefore pages) could have been saved.
Interior 3 teaspoons.
I’m going to round it up to 4/5 here for the overall category.
When a young daemon becomes host to his father, the eons-old progenitor of his kind, it seems his only purpose is to kill and kill again, to build a new world fit for the dark to rule. Unseen by humans, the world has long been controlled by the strings of a shadowy secret society of immortal beings, the Order of Azoth. As the organization fractures and begins to unravel, he may be the last hope of the Order to quell the spread of corruption and change the path of the future. Just as they may be his only hope to discover his own humanity.Birthright – Amazon.com
I think the premise here is so interesting. The main character, Albtraum, essentially begins his story as the villain, although from his perspective he is the hero. I have personally never read anything quite like it, and find it to be quite unique.
I give the premise 5/5.
Vice gives us quite a large cast. I’m going to touch just on the main characters, or we’ll be here all day.
The main character and star of the show is of course Albtraum. His beginning is, quite frankly, horrifying. From the very first moment he can remember until he’s taken in by the Order all he has ever known is killing at the direction of the monster living in his brain.
This of course leaves a lot of room for growth, and grow he does. Much of the book is simply Albtraum’s humanity blossoming like a flower. Vice does a masterful job making her plot points do double duty. They both advance the plot and reveal yet another aspect of Al discovering who he is and what family really means.
From the taciturn Brunhart and flamboyant Joaquin, he learns what a father (or fathers) should really be like.
From Glen he learns what a true friend is.
And from Mianna, well… He learns a lot of things. You’ll have to read the book to find out.
Characters get a solid 5/5 from me.
The world in which Birthright takes place is an alternate version of our world in the past. The characters visit a familiar places such as Paris, for example.
There are, however, many fantastical elements that must be accounted for in the worldbuilding. The entire concept behind the foundation of the Order, the functioning of immortality in the world, and the existence of daemons and the dark world. Just to name a few.
The concept of the dark world and the rifts very much gives me Oblivion vibes. In a good way.
Worldbuilding is a solid 4/5.
I’m not going to lie to you, the plot on this one is a slow burn. Some may even finding it a tiny bit plodding. I was wrapped up in the characters enough not to care.
It definitely begins to speed up towards the end as we crash towards the finale. And that finale is… damn. It was not what I expected.
I give it 4/5 for a being a little slow.
I really enjoyed Vice’s style. There is a lot of beautiful and even haunting description throughout the book. She provides a lot of rich detail. If there was one thing I had to complain about, I would say that some of the longer sentences are a touch awkward.
I give the writing 4/5.
Birthright is the first book in a while that comes so close to a five star review from me. The ending left me hungry for the next book. I am dying to know what happens next. The characters that were so lovingly rendered, and the world so rich in detail. I am thoroughly looking forward to the author’s sophomore effort. My overall rating is 4/5.