Hero Born by Andy Livingstone

Posted On 1 June 2015

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Hero Born is the first book in the Seeds of Destiny Trilogy by Andy Livingstone which brings to us a young boy, just on the cusp of manhood, who on one horrible day loses everything he holds dear.  His family are murdered, his home destroyed and his freedom taken when he is captured and thrown aboard a ship sailing to distant lands where he will be sold into slavery.

Hero Born has a coming of age type of feel to it, plenty of action and is a solid first instalment to the series.

The story starts out with a look at village life.  The local boys/young men are competing in a team game (akin to early rugby maybe) with a neighbouring village.  This is where we are first introduced to Brann and come to realise that in spite of his diminutive stature he’s a tough little nut who refuses to stay beaten.  Meanwhile, a stranger watches the games, well dressed, well armed and relatively unnoticed.

At the conclusion of the games and returning home with his brother the two notice armed men sneaking through the woods obviously planning on attacking the village. From there things spiralled downhill quickly – the village was massacred and Brann, whilst attempting to escape, was captured and thrown aboard a ship heading to distant lands to become a slave.

During the trip Brann’s fortune continually fluctuates – he manages to capture the attention of the ship’s soothsayer or wise woman who provides him with a strange prophecy and thereby draws the attention of the captain and also the anger and jealousy of one of the warriors.  Eventually, following pirate attack, he becomes a replacement galley slave thus sealing his future.

In terms of the setting we have a pseudo mediaeval period.  People use carts and horses and live fairly basic lives.  Bow and arrow and sword are the typical weapons of choice.  During boat travel we go from Brann’s home – which has a maybe UK/Scottish type feel to one more akin to Norway with cold temperatures, seasons where the sun barely puts in an appearance and viking type warriors are the order of the day.

The characters.  The main one is obviously Brann and over the course of the story we begin to understand that something is different about him, not only does he have a prophecy foretold but he seems to have the luck of the Gods not to mention a tough skull  The other main characters are Gerens and Grakk, Brann’s onboard mates and fellow rowers and then two additional friends that he becomes attached to in Hakon and Konall.  I quite liked the characters, particularly Konall who starts off as a rather arrogant and generally misunderstood and disliked character but goes on to disprove that first impression.  They both go on something of an adventure together where they have to learn to trust each other in order to survive.  I also found Grakk very interesting and would definitely like to learn more of his story.

In terms of the writing – let’s just say that Mr Livingstone is very thorough!  There is plenty of detail about everything whether that be the life of a slave or paige, fighting, weapons and the like.  I actually liked the writing but had a couple of criticisms.  Particularly toward the start, there was a little bit of repetition where sometimes I almost felt I was reading the same or very similar sentence twice.  This did taper off.  I would also say that the dialogue could have been sharpened a little. Plus, I’m not going to deny that in spite of the action it did take me 20/30% of the story to get truly into the novel.  In fact it really kicked off for me towards the end of the first journey over water. In fairness I think this could probably have been cut a little, I wouldn’t say that the length put me off reading but it might deter some readers and I feel it could have been shortened without any detriment effect.

Anyway, the upshot is I thought this was an enjoyable first instalment with a good ending.  We have a decent plot, savage baddies and an evil scheming snake in the grass living amidst them all.  I would say it has a YA feel and is a good start to an action/adventure/hero type story.

Now, do I discuss the elephant in the room??  Yes.  I couldn’t help making a rather obvious comparison to Abercrombie’s Half a King and I’m sure that others will make the same connection.  There are certainly similarities – both about heros in the making, set in similar types of world, the main characters become galley slaves, make friends where least expected, etc.  But, whilst I can’t deny there are similarities in terms of those elements I don’t think it extends to the overall story arc. I think it’s probably just a little unfortunate that this story comes so closely on the back of Half a King so comparisons are probably inevitable.  Like I said though, I don’t think this story is going in the same direction.

I received a copy of this from the publishers through Netgalley for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

5 Responses to “Hero Born by Andy Livingstone”

  1. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    Haha, when I read the first few paragraphs of the review, I thought “Half A King!” as well. Brann seems to have several things going for him that makes him unique though, and the subsequent descriptions make it sound very different.

    • lynnsbooks

      Yeah, he’s not a potential heir to the throne – he’s a hero in the making with what seems like a certain destiny mapped out before him. I liked this, it took me a little while to get into it but then it was very enjoyable. I had a few little niggles but on the whole it was good and I’d definitely continue with the series to see where this goes next.
      Lynn 😀

  2. jessicabookworm

    Sounds like a good start to a new series 🙂

  3. ‘But why is the rum gone?…?’ |

    […] Hero Born by Andy Livingstone is another book that spends a large portion of the book on water.  The main protagonist is captured and put aboard a slaver’s ship to be taken to distant lands.  Along the way his fortunes change dramatically as he attracts the eye of the onboard soothsayer, the captain and one of the more vindictive crew members.  After a pirate attack he becomes a galley slave.  The other rowers keep their own code of conduct and enforce it harshly sometimes involving vicious attack. […]

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