Aug 13, 2012

Daughter of Light, by Morgan Busse

Disclaimer: All reviews are the result of my personal opinion from a Christian stand-point. These reviews are provided for those who share my beliefs and morals, to help guide what fiction a reader may wish to pick up. For those who do not share these beliefs, please refrain from hateful comments. It is due to rude commenting that I must now include this note prior to all reviews. For more information, visit my purpose behind this blog. Thank you for your understanding.

Recommended Age-Group: 15+
Issues of Violence: physical injuries, magic-related violence, assassination, war
Intimacy Level: mild attraction
Swearing: none
Recommendation: yes, 4.5 out of 5 stars! (see end of entry)

Rowen Mar is an orphan adopted into a village where she's not accepted. Her reputation sinks even deeper when a strange mark brands her as a witch and she's cast out of the only home she's known. She travels to the White City--a place she's never been, but the place her adoptive father has spent most of his life..and he's built a reputation. She arrives with hopes to become the varor to the princess--aka ferocious female bodyguard.  

Rowen is haunted by memories of when she accidentally touched a person with her mark, which revealed the evil inside a human's heart. Out of fear, she covers her hand with a glove and attempts to live without anyone knowing she is different, but God made her different for a purpose. War brews in the land and Rowen finds herself drawn to reveal and accept who and what she is, but will that acceptance distance those she loves away from her? Particularly the handsome Captain Lore?

Initial Reaction: *****
I enjoyed the fast pace to Morgan Busse's debut novel, Daughter of Light, which kept the story from dragging. There is a wide variety of characters who are more "out-of-the-box" than some of the recent fantasy I've read--a female scribe, woman bodyguard, and a blackmailed assassin. Those characters are an instant handful of gold.

Plot: *****
Rowen's journey is a great model of an under-qualified person embarking upon God's path of greater things. His calling can be intimidating and seemingly impossible, but it's important for her (and us) to take that tentative step that seems terrifying.

Daughter of Light has a similar feel to Lord of the Rings (only it's easier to read!). For those who enjoy that type of fantasy, this will be right up your alley!

Characters: *****
I had a difficult time relating to the characters, which in turn made me read the story mostly for plot-reasons than character plight. Rowen seemed very soft-hearted through the entire book, even after becoming a bodyguard and swordsman (swordswoman?). I would have liked to see a little more ferocity in her internal character--there were a lot of moments where she had to step up to bravely defend the princess, but I didn't see much confidence or determination grow from those experiences.

There were three point-of-views in this book, but Rowen's seemed to be the main one. I greatly enjoyed the assassin, Caleb's, point-of-view and looked forward to his chapters. The third character, a scribe named Nierne, caught my attention when her city was attacked. I connected with her plight the most--feeling her fear, her dread, her desperation to escape--but after her initial introduction, we only enter her head a couple more times. Not much follow-up comes regarding her city, but the way Daughter of Light ends leaves an opening for a lot more development in Nierne's besieged city. After all, we can't expect all the answers in one book. ;)

Spiritual Elements: *****
Just as the book is focused on adventure and quest for one's king/queen and country, it is focused on God's (called the Word) interaction with those He loves and pursues. This is done in a way that doesn't slap the reader across the face with Christian theology or over-the-top Christian fantasy. It touches on the Word's ability to heal and forgive.

The story also enters into the human struggle with faith, instead of thrusting every character into a "believe" moment and be a perfect apostle afterward. Characters pray out of desperation, admitting they have no faith that God will come through. A scribe who's spent her entire life copying and studying the Word's law doesn't understand His choice to allow good people to die and grows angry with Him. These moments just confirm God's faithfulness even when we doubt or don't understand.

Many scenes of battle have short graphic images--a dagger to the throat, bones splintering through a person's skin, screams of anguish. These bring the reader into the scenes, but Morgan Busse does an excellent job of giving just enough information to understand and feel what is going on without leaving a bad taste in the reader's mouth. 

Rowen is a very innocent and genuine person. When her mark leads her to see into the darkness of someone's soul, she is haunted by what she sees. Much of this includes the thoughts, desires, and memories of lust. Rowen is disgusted when she sees into the heart of a rapist. The book does not go into detail, but it informs the reader enough to know what she's seeing.

I really had to stay on my toes to keep the characters and locations straight. I have difficulty with names in general so this may not apply to all readers, but I mixed up the names of cities quite often through this book. I thought I'd also have a hard time with the characters, but the author does an excellent job reminding the reader in subtle ways who each character is.

Overall Recommendation:
Overall, I recommend this book. It's a great read and the driving idea is very original (my initial reason for stalking the release of this book). Again, I tip my hat to Marcher Lord Press for producing another inspiring book that touches the often forgotten corners of Christian fantasy. Bravo, Morgan Busse!

Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She writes stories about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her debut dystopian novel, A Time to Die, released September 2014 from Enclave Publishing. When Nadine's not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she is out pursuing adventures. She currently lives in Idaho with her husband. You can find out more about Nadine and her books at