What If Being Secondborn Could Control Your Fate?
First, a disclaimer: Amy A. Bartol is one of my favorite authors…It was a beautiful and serendipitous day when one of her books ended up in my recommended list on Amazon! She has ripped my heart out with the ending of the Kricket series, and made me ride an emotional rollercoaster with the Premonition Series. Her heroines are smart, kick butt, and beautiful…and usually beset by romantic quandaries and triangles, along with seriously challenging life changes. I mention this up front because I want to acknowledge that I was predisposed to like Secondborn, but also, to point out that I had very high expectations. And I was not disappointed. At all.
So now, on to the good stuff! The premise of Secondborn is that at some point, we split our society into segments (called fates) based one what we do. For example, one fate is in charge of the military, one fate is in charge of engineering, one fate is in charge of domestic servitude and so on. First born children can lead normal lives, get married, have children of their own, and become leaders in society if they are from the right family. Second born children are forced to leave their families in order to serve the fates, and are unable to marry or have children. Third born children are hunted down like animals and exterminated. Amy A. Bartol does a masterful job of laying all of this out, and explaining it slowly as the story progresses, in such a way that it almost seems like a sensible way to control population growth. But clearly, this is not the model for a sustainable, or inclusive society…which leads to a growing rebellion.
Roselle, the heroine of the story, is a Secondborn Sword, raised to serve the military with blind devotion. She is fiercely loyal to her brother and to her family’s place near the top of the hierarchy of the fatedoms. She is a well trained warrior, but also very compassionate…and beautiful. This combination of traits has given her a vast following, including those who would like to see her take her brother’s place, and an equally powerful contingent who have begun to fear her. Amidst her fight for survival, she falls in love, which is something forbidden to a Secondborn, even a famous one like herself. Her relationship with Hawthorne, and the friendships that she forges with others in the military, make her start to really question the system in which they live…making her ripe for the picking when the rebellion approaches her with a request.
The characters in Secondborn are richly drawn and developed, lending a stark sense of reality to the fanciful nature of the story. Human nature, with all its facets of gray, is probed and examined as Roselle draws closer to the truth of the elaborate lies, moves, and countermoves, that are shaping her life. As always, Amy A. Bartol ends on a cliff hanger, the type that makes you inhale sharply and curse the fact that you are likely to wait a very long time to find out what happens next. But wait I shall, with bated breath, to see the rebellion start to blossom, along with Roselle’s quest to take control of her own fate! I cannot recommend this book enough, go out and get a copy today!