AUTHOR’S WEBSITE: https://www.dkholmberg.com/
SERIES: The Dark Ability
PUBLISHED: January 4, 2016 (Self-published)
GENRE: Young Adult
Exiled by his family. Claimed by thieves. Could his dark ability be the key to his salvation?
Rsiran is a disappointment to his family, gifted with the ability to Slide. It is a dark magic, one where he can transport himself wherever he wants, but using it will only turn him into the thief his father fears.
Forbidden from Sliding, he’s apprenticed under his father as a blacksmith where lorcith, a rare, precious metal with arcane properties, calls to him, seducing him into forming forbidden blades. When discovered, he’s banished, sentenced indefinitely to the mines of Ilphaesn Mountain.
Though Rsiran tries to serve obediently, to learn to control the call of lorcith as his father demands, when his life is threatened in the darkness of the mines, he finds himself Sliding back to Elaeavn where he finds a black market for his blades – and a new family of thieves.
There someone far more powerful than him discovers what he can do and intends to use him. He doesn’t want to be a pawn in anyone’s ambitions; all he ever wanted was a family. But the darkness inside him cannot be ignored – and he’s already embroiled in an ancient struggle that only he may be able to end.
The Dark Ability was one of interest around the FBC circle for SPFBO5, as it already has over 2,000 varied ratings on GR, so I was pretty excited to give it a try. The notion of magical abilities determining a person’s standing in society is an intriguing approach to viewing the many prevalent inequities in our own society. The whole “they only hate and fear it because they don’t understand it” concept plays a huge role in this story, and tackling it sends out a positive message to readers. Additionally, I absolutely loved the blacksmithing aspect introduced, especially how lorcith, a magical and almost sentient metal, calls out to Mastersmiths to be shaped in a way it desires, usually in the form of weapons. These lorcith-forged weapons have been deemed illegal by those ruling – the reasoning unknown. I was also captivated by a supporting cast of complex characters with many unveiled secrets.
Having that said, while I adored Brusus, Jessa, and Haern, I just couldn’t connect with Rsiran, the main character, whatsoever. His constant, repetitive introspection became overly distracting, consistently pulling me from the immersion of the story – if these repetitions had borne fruit, I’d not even mention it. The underlying story is truly fantastic, but I felt some aspects were overly simplified, while others felt too bogged down with superfluous details. Additionally, the corrupt ruling class dictating the lives of all was an interesting thread I wished has been explored in more detail – I know they’re the bad guys, but not why. Despite my mixed reactions to this book, I’ll most likely be continuing with the series, simply because I need to know what happens next.