I received a free digital copy from the author/publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest feedback.
Hero Born tells the story of Brann, an ordinary boy who is captured by slave traders and ends up being a rower on a pirate-turned-slaving ship. Under the care of stern but kind Captain, Brann soon ends up discovering that he has skills that better suit the battle field than his father's mill. Brann ends up in lands farther than he could have ever imagined and caught up in battles he could only ever dream of fighting.
This was a really good start to a fantasy series. From the start I was really intrigued and couldn't wait to see what happened.. Brann's time on the ship is very detailed and it's obvious a lot of investigation went in to getting it exactly right. I really enjoyed both the storyline on the ship and on land but I think I preferred how Brann's storyline progressed when they travelled to Lord Raggnar and Lord Sigur, There was nice world-building but not all at once. Brann was pretty good at describing what he was seeing in all its splendor due to his curiosity but I also liked that the reader got an idea of how the kingdom worked through the Captain explaining it to Brann.
Brann was an extremely likable character and it's easy to see how he ended up making so many friends. His friendship with Gerens, Konall and Konall's page (whose name is escaping me right now) was lovely and seemed to help replace the friendship Brann had with his brother. The Captain was very intriguing, he wasn't quite a hero being the captain of a slave ship (even if he was 'forced' into it by his circumstances) but he wasn't an anti-hero either. He certainly had a very interesting background and I'm looking forward to seeing him take Brann under his wing properly in the second book and maybe teach him a bit of fighting. Konall was also an exciting character to read about. He definitely became one of my favourites which is funny as I didn't like him at all when Brann first met him. His character development was great and his affection towards Brann was pretty heart-warming. And then Gerens and Grakk, both slaves but both become fierce friends and defenders of Brann. Both characters were great additions to Brann's friend group (and the original additions).
I did find the overall pace of the book slightly slow at times, in particular when Brann and Konall teamed up for their rescue mission. The build-up to them getting to the village was very long, as was their coming back and it began to bore me and I just wanted a bit more action in those parts. I was also disappointed at the lack of female characters in the book. It would have been great to have actually seen a woman fighting when there had been talk of them being able to do so.
Overall, a great fantasy book and I can't wait for the next one!