Illborn by Daniel T Jackson was bought for me at Christmas at a perfect time for when I was ready for a brand new epic fantasy series to get into. I’d seen a lot of positive things online and decided to follow Jackson on Instagram which resulted in me seeing plenty more positive things. It currently has a 4.36 rating on Goodreads after nearly 500 ratings, so I think we can call that universally positive. But did I think it was any good?
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Yes, yes I did. I’ll get that out of the way now – Illborn by Daniel T. Jackson is a bloomin’ brilliant fantasy novel and even more impressive when you consider that it is his debut book. It is a book of over 600 pages and yet at no point did I ever feel like it was dragging or that I felt it was too long and that’s the real achievement here.
Illborn plot – 4.5/5
The plot of Illborn is one that is fairly simple – four adults slowly come to terms with the fact that having come of age, they have started to experience these powers that they believe to have come from a divine god that the world still worships fairly closely. The powers come in a variety of styles which the book slowly expands upon throughout, giving each “hero” their own unique abilities.
The two important things that I noted whilst reading this book are that firstly, there is very much some slight awkwardness with the way in which the story develops. At times it feels a little like Daniel T. Jackson is making it up as he goes along – this is fairly evident with the powers as, despite the idea surely being that they have their own distinct abilities, you’d argue that a couple of the characters have very similar powers. However, the second thing to note is that which I touched on at the start: to write a book that’s over 600 pages long isn’t easy, it’s especially not easy when you’re writing about a fantastical world across four different characters and it’s even more difficult to keep the reader engaged with every single chapter entry you write. By Jackson has done that here.
The actual story itself doesn’t blast along at a neck-breaking pace – this is likely in part due to the fact that we are covering four different characters’ stories so we jump between parallel times meaning progress can only really happen once every four chapters. However, this doesn’t mean each chapter isn’t filled with progress for that specific character – they very much are.
The end of the book did feel a tad rushed to me – there was almost an element that felt like Jackson could have kept writing forever but knew he needed to bring it to a conclusion so he could write a sequel. I say this and yet I’m not mad – I’m excited about the sequel and the ending of the book was epic enough to feel like a conclusion and enough of a cliffhanger to make me want the sequel.
Illborn characters – 4/5
As you all know, characters are a huge part of a book for me. The plot can be incredibly well written and a lot happens but if everybody taking part in this plot is dull as dishwater then it’ll inevitably leave me feeling like the book didn’t deserve a high rating. Fear not, the characters in Illborn do just fine. No, there isn’t the funny one or the one that makes you want to love them because they’re mean but have a kind side blah blah. BUT, Jackson has written some brilliant character arcs here.
Over the 700 pages, Illborn introduces us to four characters who grow from the bottom of their status into much more powerful or well-developed characters. I don’t want to ruin the plot but trust me when I say you won’t be disappointed by how much the characters evolve and the progress they make from the first pages of their story to the last. Their journeys all involve struggles, they all involve triumph and towards the end, it leaves you wanting to find it out more about all of them and what’s going to happen to them in the next book.
Illborn summary – 5/5
Illborn by Daniel T. Jackson is a simply brilliant fantasy book. It not only takes us on four genuinely fascinating character stories but also introduces us to a brand new developed world, an interesting magic/powers system and has us hooked to the story from the very first page.
If you’re a fantasy fan who isn’t intimidated by a 600+ page book – pick. this. up. It’s brilliant and quite possibly the best fantasy debut I’ve read in a while!