(I received an ARC of Nightborn in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This review is being posted before publication to celebrate the release of the paperback of Frostborn!)
Nightborn is the second book in the middle-grade fantasy Thrones and Bones series by Lou Anders. It follows the adventures of half-giantess Thianna Frostborn and game-loving farmer Karn Korlundsson as they attempt to find an ancient mythical object. There are dragons, elves, riddles, and disguises, among other fantastical things. This series has been a pleasant surprise: very well-rounded and balanced, which I definitely needed. I give Nightborn a 7.5/10 stars for being one heck of a sequel.
*SOME SPOILERS AHEAD (I did my best guys my reviews are usually super spoilery)*
Things I Liked:
- World expansion is the bomb. In Frostborn, the story sticks to the northernmost corners of the continent of Katernia; in Nightborn, there are tons of new cities and places because “hey! We have flying creatures who can travel quickly!” I really enjoyed getting to see how the adventures impact the world outside of Norrongard.
- Cast expansion (is that a thing? Just made it one.) is also the bomb. The minor characters, especially Desstra, and their development kept me a lot more interested. The bigger the cast of a series, the more invested I am; I liked that Frostborn features a nice cast of pretty detailed minor characters.
- The riddles are really fun, especially with all the play on words. I’m a sucker for a good mystery riddle leading to treasure.
- The climax is awesome! The book builds really well to the final scenes, including the shocking twist at the end. As much as I love good riddles, I love exciting battle scenes even more.
- The lines between good guys and bad guys are a little blurry, which I always love; unclear morality is one of my favorite things in any story. The themes of the book don’t really explore this too much, but the bad guys are usually the ones whose goals conflict with Karn and Thianna’s, or the ones who are mean. I hope moral ambiguity gets developed more in book three, because it always makes me feel for the characters more (a la The 100).
- The brains are the dude and the brawn is the girl. Reversal of gender roles for the win. I loved that Karn is the one who thinks his way out of sticky situations and Thianna is the one who smashes first and asks questions later.
- They remain platonic! Which is really, really, really refreshing!
- Friendship = feels. I freaking love Karn and Thianna. My heart.
Things I Didn’t Like:
- The humor fell a little flat for me. This is probably because it’s a middle-grade series and I am a little over six months away from adulthood (hahahahahahahahahaha), but I wasn’t as charmed by the funny scenes as I would’ve liked.
- Though it didn’t detract from the story, the writing didn’t particularly wow me either. This could’ve made the experience a little more enjoyable, but the overall story is totally worth it.
I’m really glad I picked up the Thrones and Bones series! The adventure and the characters have been surprisingly fun and enjoyable, and I’m really excited for book three. I recommend this series to anyone looking for a relatively easy read with a nice blend of action and character development.