Birthright by M.A. Vice – Review

"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."

To say I liked this book wouldn’t even begin to describe how thoroughly entertained I was throughout the course of the story. It was well-paced, and the plot gradually built in intensity until by the end I was so enthralled that I couldn’t put it down.

Death and destruction grow to be the only thing the young daemon, Albtraum, knows after he awakens to the voice of his father in his head. He is given the task of helping him in his goal to destroy humankind and does this for years until he meets his match and is taken prisoner by the Queen of Sylva. There, he is given the opportunity to be separated from his father, and to assist the Queen and the Order of Azoth (a society of immortals) in (hopefully) destroying him once and for all.

The best part for me was watching Albtraum grow from a simple puppet of his father’s to an independent character with a will and wants of his own. It was particularly sweet to watch his curiosity and desire for knowledge (for example, his reading and re-reading of Machiavelli) develop as he learns that there is more to the world than what he was first led to believe. And the more he learns, the more he clashes with his father (this makes for some very intense scenes later in the book).

Albtraum also meets and befriends a diverse cast of characters – The Queen of Sylva, Mianna, Brunhart, the captain of the guard, and Joaquin, Mianna’s seneschal, to name just a few.  Each of these characters had distinct personalities and backstories for how they came to be together, so even when the focus wasn’t on Albtraum, I enjoyed getting to learn about the others. I’ll say now that Brunhart was by far my favorite character overall for his tough exterior but his deep, fatherly care for Albtraum that develops during the young man’s stay with everyone. He truly warmed my heart.

Likewise, the care that everyone shows for Albtraum (but especially that of the aforementioned characters) stands out in sharp contrast to the way his father treats him, and made me root for his downfall, even when there were times at the beginning where one might think that MAYBE he was in the right after all – he was a good villain that way. But as he loses his hold on Al, so does he lose his hold on the reader.

The events in the last 3-4 chapters were well foreshadowed, but even then still came as a surprise due to how they played out. They had me hopping from anger, to hope, to holding back tears. And at the very end, the story left me anticipating the conflict that is sure to begin in book two. This was a truly enrapturing fantasy read.

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