Vengeance Born, the excellent first installment in the Light Blade series, effectively draws the reader in with its opening sentence. The world of the series has two main components: the Na’Reish vampiric demons who enslave humans, and the humans, led and protected by Light Blade warriors, who worship a feminine deity they refer to as The Lady. When the story begins, Annika, a half human/half Na’Reish healer, goes to the dungeons to see to the wounds of a captured Light Blade warrior. Hesia, the human slave woman who basically raised her and taught her the healing craft, accompanies Annika. The two woman plan to approach the captive about an escape–as long as he agrees to take Annika with him. Though her father holds the main leadership position among the Na’Reish, Annika wishes to leave and seek sanctuary with the humans to escape his cruelty.
Unfortunately for Annika, when the captive, Kalan, sees her eyes, he automatically assumes her Na’Reish, and immediately distrusts her, even though she has just healed his wounds. Hesia tells Kalan of Annika’s half-blood status, which he finds difficult to believe, having been raised to think the Na’Chi a myth. Despite his reservations, Kalan agrees to the plan, and he witnesses another power Annika possesses which she employs in their escape. After their flight from the fortress, the two face dangers between there and the Light Blade city, but one of the biggest obstacles will most certainly be the attitudes of the humans towards Annika.
Griffith depicts a world of magic and menace suffused with both compassion and cruelty, adding a realistic touch to a fantasy realm. Annika proves a fascinating character–someone who has rarely known kindness or acceptance throughout her whole life yet chooses to use her gift to aid those who look down upon her due to her half-blood status. The relationship between Annika and Kalan, one born out of necessity that grows through mutual respect, feels believable, and the reader roots for both of them (at least after Kalan comes around to understand that Annika presents no threat). The majority of the secondary characters add to the narrative, and a few in particular aid Annika in the adjustment to her new life. This absorbing novel should appeal to fans of all types of fantasy. This reviewer very much looks forward to book two in the series, Alliance Forged.
Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Berkley (April 2, 2013)