Hero Grown (Seeds of Destiny #2 by Andy Livingstone
Hero Grown is the second in series by Andy Livingstone that got off to a strong start with Hero Born. I guess you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to work out from the titles that the first and second books have brought to us a character who is gradually being forged into a hero. I must confess that I enjoy this type of tale. We have a prophecy, we have a young boy who suffered terribly with the loss of everything he knew, thrown into slavery and yet overcoming adversity and managing to find friends against the odds. The latest edition takes that story further yet again when the hero of the tale is once again thrown into the most dire of situations and then, when you think things can get no worse – well, they do!
So, I’m not going to recap the first story and I will give an obligatory warning that this review may contain spoilers for the first in series.
At the start of this story Brann, the hero in the making, is travelling to the capital of the Empire with a number of characters that we met in the last book. They aim to warn the Emperor of the cult they uncovered at the conclusion of the last story – a cult headed by one called Loku. Now, at this stage of the review the next point could be considered a spoiler – however, given the description on the jacket I don’t think so. Basically, Loku is the Emperor’s spymaster and not only does the Emperor rely heavily on him but it seems has been forewarned of this visit by Lord Einar and his companions and in fact believes it to be an assassination attempt. As you can imagine, all hell is let loose, A couple of the company die swiftly, a couple are taken hostage, there is a bold escape and the remaining two are taken into slavery once more. Brann and Grakk, the other captive, are taken to a gladiatorial school to be prepared for a fight to the death! Of course, nobody really expects Brann to survive but yet again his luck holds out. His natural ability to take in a situation and make the most of what is available under pressure come to the fore. And, for a brief time, following his success at the death match, and the fact that the Emperor virtually forgets of his existence, he spends a period of time at the school that can almost be considered happy. I certainly enjoyed this element of the story and found it really entertaining. Then, without warning it seems that Brann has once again come to the attention of certain others and is once again expected to fight to the death – the stakes are much higher this time however.
Accompanying the story we are made privy to another voice. One who speaks with others and influences Brann’s future, seeking to shape him into the kind of man who can fulfil the prophecy. Unfortunately for Brann, this shaping involves a lot more hardship. He finds himself thrown to the fighting pits beneath the City where the only rule – is that there are no rules. All fights are to the death and after a few months of living such an existence Brann is slowly becoming a feral fighting machine – with very little humanity left inside.
Seeds of Destiny is proving to be a very enjoyable story – a coming of age tale with a young protagonist slowly growing into his own destiny
As with the first book the writing is clever and the attention to detail really good. The storyline is really entertaining, gladiatorial fights, pit fights, streets beneath the city, escapes, quests, Egyptian style cities hidden deep in the desert – there is a lot going on and plenty to entertain the reader.
In terms of criticisms – I don’t really think I had much to be honest, I think I would have preferred a little more witty banter now and again and, even though Brann does suffer so terribly I did at one point wonder about whether some of his abilities felt as though they came a little bit too speedily. But, those brief points aside this was a very enjoyable read, plenty of action and adventure and with a good pace that gathers momentum and delivers plenty of tension.
Seeds of Destiny delivers the type of story that I love to read in that it shows a character developing slowly and allows me to watch their progress. It also brings a good supporting cast of characters and, in a fantasy world where the dark and grim (which I admit I love) can be prohibitive to a young adult audience I think this is a perfect adventure.
I look forward to reading the next step in Brann’s journey very much.
I received a copy courtesy of the publisher for which my thanks. The above is my own opinion.