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Review: Vengeance Born by Kylie Griffin

25 Aug

Vengeance Born by Kylie Griffin
Penguin (February 2012)
Trade: $15.00; ebook: $9.99
ISBN: 9780425245361

Favorite Lines: “Yes, I gave you the perfect weapon for retribution against me. I’m frightened my actions have hurt you too much to forgive me, but I’m more afraid of denying myself the chance of knowing what might happen between us.” (p. 214)

There is no mercy in the demon realm. No escape. In this place of desperation and conflict, anyone who is not pure bred is virtually powerless. Until an unlikely champion is born…

Annika, half-blood daughter of the Na’Reish King, longs for more than her tormented life among her father’s people. Conceived in hatred and bred as a tool of retribution, she’s gifted with a special talent that can heal as well as destroy…

With the Na’Reish vastly outnumbering them, Kalan, a Light Blade warrior, knows the future of humankind depends on him alone. Incursions into human territory and raids for blood-slaves by the Na’Reish Horde have increased. As Chosen-leader, he faces the task of stopping the demons-and convincing the Council of aging Light Blade warriors that change is necessary for survival.

When Annika learns Kalan is a prisoner in her father’s dungeon, her dream of escape seems within reach. She agrees to free him in exchange for his protection once they reach human territory. Now, marked for death for helping him, Annika must learn to trust Kalan as they face not only the perilous journey to the border but enemies within the Council-and discover a shocking truth that could throw the human race into civil war…

Vengeance Born is book one in Kylie Griffin’s Light Blade series which pits humans against demons. The reader is introduced to a world in which demons are violent and malicious predators who hunt humans. Once captured humans are tortured and often enslaved. Humans are their food source. But humanity has a protectors known as the Light Blade Warriors. The warriors are stronger than the average human and are excellent fighters.

The heroine of the book, Annika, is a myth. Both humans and demons are proud of their lineage which is called being blood proud. The idea of human-demon children is an unproven myth to humans until Annika saves the Light Blade Kalan. She’s faced nothing but adversity her entire life, but she takes a chance that her life may be different if she lives with humans. She also hopes to learn about her human mother.

I liked Annika from the moment she was introduced. She is a peaceful woman who could have let despair lead her to become a cruel person. Instead she chose religion. She put her faith in the Lady and cultivated her ability to heal those in need. Despite her gentle nature she is able to kill when needed. She is tough and fair-minded. She never thinks she is entitled to anything. I was drawn to her and wanted her to become the big dog on top instead of the under dog she was presented as.

Her hero Kalan was another thing. I flip-flopped with him. One moment I thought okay, he’s reacting the way any soldier would. The next minute I wanted to smack him for hurting the heroine’s feelings. He was suspicious but honorable. I never truly loved him, however, I did come to like him.

The danger comes from all sides in Vengeance Born. As a mixed blood, Annika is set up to fail from birth. She is seen as a disgrace as is shown from the women who give birth and “overcome with the shame of delivering crossbreed children, would plead with her (Hessia, an enslaved healer) to kill the child.” (p. 261)  Demons view the mixed bloods as being outranked by even the lowest caste of Na’Reish (demons). On her merits and with the help of a good human man, Annika has a chance at living a decent life.

One of the things I liked about the book was its honesty. Not all prejudices can be overcome and the book doesn’t gloss over that fact. Individuals can choose a new path or stick to a known path. In Vengeance Born the challenge comes from a semi-unexpected place. It was violent and I loved it. However, I kept waiting for Annika’s bad ass father to come and decimate all in his path or to lead some attacks on the humans. The depth his evilness were visited time and time again, but the reader never gets to see Annika’s father. That was disappointing.

I read Vengeance Born quickly and liked the new world Griffin introduced me to. Blindly we are placed in the middle of a war at the beginning of the story. It isn’t until nearly the end of the book that we are given historical evidence which explains the war between humans and demons. It worked to upset life as all the characters knew it to be in the Light Blade world and open doors to Kalan and Annika, as well as the future heroes and heroines in the Light Blade world.

I jumped into the Light Blade world and had a good time with most of it. The violent, depressing world was intriguing, but I never felt the draw between the characters. I was shown the sexual attraction, but didn’t really feel it or its transformation to love. It was slow in building, but for me never passed a friendship level on a love basis.

Vengeance Born had a steady pace until the end. I think it wrapped up a little too quickly. One minute we’re at a crisis level, the next everything is settled and book one is over. I’m thankful, though, that the book ended with the couple together, but not riding off into the sunset. The Light Blade world isn’t ready for that yet. I was left wondering how the hero and heroine would do as a couple faced with discrimination and hope book two, Alliance Forged, will show Kalan and Annnika overcoming many hurdles.