Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Waterborn by Greg Keyes | Epic Fantasy Review | Chosen of the Changeling, Book 1

Mulluane | Tuesday, April 28, 2015 | 2 Comments so far
A Princess wishes for a hero and a God hears her plea. The son of a cattle chieftain starts off on a quest to kill the God who is tormenting his true love. And nothing goes exactly how either of them planned.

Blurb might contain spoilers, toggle to view. ( Toggle may not function in email and some feed readers.)

To find her kidnapped cousin, a princess enters the domain of a deadly deity

Hezhi is a princess, daughter of a royal family whose line was founded by the god known as the River. Her blood is not only royal, it is magic, with a power that will not become known until she approaches adulthood. As she grows into her gift, she will take her place in court—or be judged unworthy and cast into the darkness below the palace.

When Hezhi’s cousin D’en is kidnapped by the priests and taken below, Hezhi vows to rescue him. But he is trapped in the domain of the River, and she will need a hero to help her find her way in the dark.

Perhaps that hero is Perkar, a barbarian who has fallen in love with the goddess of the stream. When the River threatens to destroy Perkar’s love, he embarks on a quest that will take him to Hezhi’s side to do battle with a god.

*Blurb source *Amazon
Epic Fantasy eBook Review of Waterborn by Greg Keyes
Book Source: Open Road Media. Ebook release April 28, 2015

Epic Fantasy eBook Review by Mulluane

This is primarily a character-driven coming-of-age story. Both of the main characters have some growing up to do and through trial, travail and error, grow they will. The core theme is pretty straight forward. The story asks a simple question. "Can you control your destiny or will it control you?"

The answers however, are far from simple.

The Basics

Worldbuilding: This world is beautifully diverse. Sprawling highlands, dense forests, sandy deserts, rolling plains, lush waterways and big cities. And each has its own inhabitants whom are just as diverse as their surroundings.

The inhabitants include Giants, Clans, Human Beings, Alwat (primitive and reclusive forest dwellers), Mang (nomadic horse people), Waterborn (Ruling class in the city of Nhol who carry the blood of the River God.) Oh and this world is slam full of ghosts and monsters. Especially the Palace in Nhol.

Magic: The magic is all God based and there is a god for every tree, bush and stone. There is the River also known as the Changeling, the Forest Lord, The Horse Lord, the Huntress and the Crow God. There are wild gods, insane gods and even a god trapped in a sword. And this is not only a world full of gods, there are shamans, half gods, priests and powerful monsters, some of which channel the powers of their favorite god or goddess.

Characters: There are 2 main characters, each with their own set of companions.

Perkar, is the 15 year old son of cattle chieftain. His main companions are Harka, a god trapped in a sword and Ngangata who is ½ human ½ Alwat. There are a multitude of other characters who will share parts of his journey but those two play the biggest role. By the end of this book, Pekar will be a much changed 17 year old.

Hezhi starts out as a 10 year old Waterborn Princess of Nhol. Her main companions are Ghan, an old, grumpy librarian, Qey, her nurse and Tsem, her half giant, ½ human bodyguard. Unlike Pekar, she is a very sheltered child with few relationships. There is a atleast one ardent suitor but at her age, she has little interest in romance. By the time this book concludes, Hezhi will be 13 and again, far different from the child she was.

My Synopsis 
Epic Fantasy eBook Review of Waterborn by Greg Keyes
The Story: Princess Hezhi’s side of this tale is slower; mainly because hers is in a static location, ie the Palace. There is mystery, a prevailing sense of impending doom, a few thrills and plenty of chills. She knows that something potentially dangerous is going to happen once she reaches puberty and she is on a quest to discover just what that is.

Perkar’s story however involves alot of travel, adventure, action and a possibly fatal case of puppy love. He too is on a quest. The stream goddess who made him a man is being hurt by a god. A god who Perkar is determined to kill. 

Other than the obvious differences of location, there are other differences in their respective journeys. Hezhi's quest is more external. She does have some growing up to do but she doesn't spend as much time inside her own head. Perkar however, is a conflicted young man and he has plenty of angst, self doubt and guilt to work through. 

The pace is pretty smooth with alternating POVs interrupted by an occasional interlude by secondary characters. The balance was, in my opinion, flawless but some may feel like it is too slow at times. Personally, I like a bit of a slowdown between action filled segments. They allow me to catch my breath before the next conflict has me glued to the pages! 

They also help me control my urges to skip ahead. Something I often find myself doing in books with alternating POVs.

My Opinions 

Thoughts: I am grateful to publishers like Open Road Media for making older books available in ebook form. This is allowing me to not only read, but discover books I missed out on when they were initially released. Granted, not all rereleased ebooks are exceptional but this book was a true gem.

It was tropey and yet, it wasn't. Take Tsem for example. Instead of being your typical giant, he is 1/2 human. This gave him a certain amount, at a risk of being redundant, humanity that you don't normally see in the typical club wielding monster.

Another example are the various God and God based religions. I found it fascinating that every single god was real. These were not the same gods but called by different names in different areas. There is literally every type of god imaginable and more than enough to be unique to the places they claim as their own. 

Sound confusing? Well it wasn't. Atleast not to me. The cultures themselves are so unique, and the gods fit so seamless into the lore of these cultures, telling them apart was easy. Greg Keyes did what he does best; he created a story that was both strange and familiar, creepy and beautiful plus peopled with characters who are all so very human. What a great debut and precursor to the books to come!

Conclusion: There was a twist near the ending that I should have seen coming, but didn't. (Don't you just hate that!) There were twists I could not have predicted and there was an epic battle. All of the elements of a great epic fantasy were there and I loved every minute of it.

One last note. Don't let the young age of the protagonists fool you. Children they may be but it is obvious that in this world, they are not children for long. There is nothing overly descriptive but atleast one character loses their virginity at a young (by our standards) age. As a result this book will easily appeal to both adults and mature young adults.

Highly recommended for Epic, High Fantasy plus Sword and Sorcery fans! 

If you are interested in more Greg Keyes goodness there is a sequel to this book The Blackgod and/or you can read my reviews of Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone or check out a Greg Keyes Quote.

Ratings, Reviews, Similar Reads, Buy Books, Affiliate Links

The Waterborn (Children of the Changeling, #1)
Author: Greg Keyes
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Content: Magic, Politics, War
Publisher: Open Road Media Sci-Fi & Fantasy (April 28, 2015)
Print Length: 457 pages
Cover Design: Kat Lee
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
Amazon Kindle: US 
Interactive List of Epic Fantasy Series
What Should I Read Next?
Greg Keyes Quote From Lord of Souls

Already read the book? Please share your own opinion!

Epic Fantasy eBook Review of Waterborn by Greg Keyes
Reviewed by Mulluane on April 28 2015
Rating: 4 of 5

Mulluane is a 55-year-old proud grandmother of 4, who is passionate about her pets, blogging, traditional fantasy, and tinkering with webdesign. She is obssesively photo shy but she uses an avatar that accurately represents her dreams. ♥ You can also find her on:

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Dragons, Heroes and Wizards


  1. As fascinating as the story seemed through your description, there was a small voice in the back of my head that whispered "yes, ok, but the main characters are KIDS!" and that threatened to spoil the fun in a possible read. Then I came to the paragraph you started with "one last note", and that was indeed a game changer! Because I know I can enjoy a story with young characters who live in a world where you have to grow up faster and reach way beyond the limit of their years.
    So.... thanks for sharing! :-)

    1. There were times it actually gave me pause and a mental "Really? At their age?" But then I put things back into perspective. In days gone by, girls married at the onset of puberty and boys became men at 15 or so.

      The average life span was 40ish, if you were lucky. At that rate, these were not kids but young adults :>)

      And thanks for stopping by once again! I love your visits.


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