Today I am delighted to be reviewing Starbinder by Mark Timmony, a new novella in The Eye of Eternity series. If you missed the cover reveal across at Novel Notions yesterday, you can find it here. You can also find my review for the first book in this series – Blood of the Spear – here.
Disclaimer – I received a copy in exchange for an honest review, all thoughts are my own.
Forged in betrayal.
Tempered by the stellar winds.
Chosen by the stars.
For five hundred years since the Sundering, the order of the Shaluay Starbinders has been dwindling. With their Starwells lying dormant, key artefacts of their order lost and their seers driven mad by the powers that broke the world, only one hope remains to the man who leads them; a fifteen year old girl.
Born to a clan of Wanderers, Reiana has been raised by a harsh grandmother who blames her for the death of her daughter, Reiana’s own mother. When bandits attack the clan’s camp, Reiana leaves the safety of the caravans to pursue the abductor of her younger cousin, heedless of the dangers.
But when a creature of the Void takes notice can Reiana’s own untapped abilities save her, or will the truth of a betrayal see her lost forever?
I was over the moon when I was offered an arc for this one because I adored Blood of the Spear when I read it last year and I was excited to spend more time in this world. Starbinder did not disappoint, and I ended up reading it the same day I received it – and cursing the fact that work interrupted my reading.
‘But it is her story you want. Not mine. No, never mine.’
I always fall firmly on the side of loving prologues, but especially ones like Timmony has done here, which is not only from a different POV, but also first person. It immediately drew me into the book, and I was sold before I’d even finished the first page. An absolutely fantastic way of setting the scene, delivering some delicious worldbuilding and with that level of intrigue that has you immediately carrying on to find out what was happening. I also liked that the prologue not only set up the book but also the wider story and leaves us with the promise of more to come – and I just loved everything about this progue.
‘But books are not the only thing of which the Ardes Librantus are conservators. The world within Arleth’taur, the Cradle of the Stars, contains histories as well as prophecies, works of art as well as books and scrolls, nightmares as well as dreams.’
Starbinder once again demonstrates Timmony’s talent for worldbuilding and weaving that information into the story, but what I love about this novella is that the scope is entirely different. Whereas Blood of the Spear is very much epic fantasy, Starbinder straddles an interesting border between feeling both smaller and more personal in scale – focusing on a narrow location, and a small main cast – but also broader, in that we get to see much more of the universe, of the links between the stars. It was a fascinating combination, and Timmony does it beautifully here, and still captures that wonderful feeling that there is so much more to discover (something that I love to see and feel in books).
I should say that it is not necessary to have read Blood of the Spear before picking up Starbinder, and this novella is a wonderful entry point to this series and world, but if like me you have read the first book then there are some easter eggs to be found. But, staying with the worldbuilding, this novella is very clever in that it builds on the worldbuilding done in that first book for return readers, but also lays more foundations for the world and histories so both new readers and returning readers get to experience new aspects of the world.
Again, this story was very character driven and Timmony does a fantastic job of establishing these characters in a short space of time. One of the aspects I particularly liked was that it offered different viewpoints on the idea of prophecy and destiny from all sides of the prophecy in question, and even more that you could see how both those reactions and views were shaped by the relationships between the characters, but also how in turn that prophecy shaped the relationships. Reiana was an interesting character – and resonated very strongly with me for several reasons. She was also the character that caught me most by surprise and had me on the edge of my seat at one point. While Relosa was a fascinating example of what can happen when a prophecy is in play, and even though I did want to shout at her more than once, I do love what Timmony did with her character – and also that there was a cost to all her choices. Another aspect I loved with the characters was that there is a very different feel between the grounded people of the Wanders, the otherworldly Zurzic (and oh my goodness, I wanted more or him!) and the celestial, almost omnipresence of the Starbinders – it made for some fantastic character dynamics.
Prophecy when done well is one of my favourite things to read about, and it is something that Timmony has played with skillfully throughout the series, but perhaps because it was more concentrated here, it shone even more brightly. I just love how it played into so many layers of the characters, the plot and the worldbuilding – and honestly, I just want more of this!
I can’t recommend Starbinder, and the entire Eye of Eternity series highly enough. Timmony is an excellent writer, and this novella has me even more excited for where he will take this series, and I will certainly be grabbing a physical copy of this novella once it’s available. So, if you’ve already read BOTS then this is another fantastic addition to the series, or if you’re looking for a new epic fantasy series which shines across the board then is a great entry point to the Eye of Eternity.
The ebook for Starbinder is not available for sale, but is available as an exclusive download for people who subscribe to Mark Timmony’s newsletter. Physical versions of the book will be available via amazon etc soon.
If you’ve read it, or read it in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this fantastic book.