Cover Image: Nightborn: Coldfire Rising

Nightborn: Coldfire Rising

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A real delight to go back to a world I loved so much as a teenager - I do think this would have worked better for those new to this series without the extended pseudoepilogue about Tarrant, a character existing fans know well but that may confuse newbies? I was happy, though!  Looking forward to seeing where this goes in future volumes. Great worldbuilding and a truly believable scenario wherein a prepared colony could end up on the brink of collapse after a few days on an unknown planet.
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A ship full of colonists arrive at a plant at the edge of the galaxy.  The planets appears to be hospitable.  Colony Commander Leon Case feels that the planet is hiding something.  It took the colony ships 90 years to decide to wake up the colonists.

After the colonists land, they encounter strange happenings and people are dying.

This is a fascinating story.  It is an awesome blend of sci-fi, horror and fantasy.  I have not read the Coldfire trilogy but plan to add the trilogy to my reading list.

Thank you NetGalley for the e-ARC and this is my honest review.
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There is a trope in Sf where a starship settles a colony on a world with magic. C. S. Friedman’s version, written in the nineties, shows a planet centuries after colonization where the coldfire magic rose from the  depths of the Earth to work with human nightmares. Nightborn: Coldfire Rising (hard from DAW) is the tale of a seedship that found the habitable planet after centuries of looking. The colonists, woken from stasis, were not expecting the magical horrors. The tale follows the first two weeks of settlement Colony Commander Leon Case and Chief Medic Lise Perez have to somehow find a way to ;et the colony survive while their technology is slowly failing. I found this, like the original trilogy, disconcerting, but I have trouble with pure horror.  This is still highly recommended, especially for a short tale at the end with Tarrant, s vampire from the original trilogy.
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I remember attempting to read the original Coldfire trilogy back when I was a child and heavily into the Dragonlance books. I just couldn't get into it back then, and seeing the part of the blurb that states "Nightborn: Coldfire Rising" is a perfect jumping on point for new readers, I decided I'd try it again. 20+ years later and I still can't get into the series, so it's clearly just not meant for me. DNF

Thank you to DAW Books and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Thank you to Netgalley, C.S. Friedman, and DAW publishing for providing this eARC!
<B> Unrelated to the review, this book needs a trigger warning for animal death, assault and kidnapping, and self-unaliving </B> 

I think its only fair to disclose this is my first C.S. Friedman book, and I've never read the Coldfire series. I went into this more or less blind, with only the synopsis to fill me in on what to expect. 
I blinked and was at 53%. I was absolutely freakin' hooked. I was engrossed by the mystery of what the fae is and how to survive its influences (and indeed, how far does the influence go?). I was emotionally invested in Leon, Lise, Angie, Ian, Dani, and the other colonists, and loved that I was able to get little glimpses of what drove their decision to go to Erna. I felt little stabs to my heart as I watched the population of the settlement drop one by one.

I really loved the blending of fantasy and sci fi, where we have humans from Earth relocated twenty thousand light-years from home, with all the usual sci fi trappings of cryo, data tablets, intergalactic travel, and those humans still observe science-defying rituals and religion. 

I did not love the, in my opinion, rather unceremonious time-jump from Day 20 (ish) to Day 364. It's presented as an epilogue, but I feel like epilogues don't happen at the 80% mark. To go from a huge tragic event to, Spongebob Narrator Voice, <i>"One year later",</i> was jarring, and I didn't get to sit with the weight of the scene long enough. This epilogue concludes at 82%, and then we move into the epigraph, 613 years later, which is the remaining 18% of the book. We're given a full new cast of characters, and I suspect the epigraph is closer to what the core trilogy is like, and is much more fantasy-leaning then the previous 82%, so this was jarring as well. We see what is effectively magic, an intentional manipulation of the fae for a specified purpose, and we see two opposing factions: the Church and a fae-controlling sorcerer-demon-undead-formerly-human individual. Their dynamics play out on page for a while, and I was left with only the barest understanding of what a Working or a Knowing is. While I appreciate a book that doesn't pander to me, I couldn't really get past the abrasive shift from sci-fi with a sprinkling of fantasy, to full-on Paladin in plate armor praying to God in the forest for blessings while she's trying to carry out a crusade against hellspawn. 

Honestly, if we had stopped at the 82% mark, at the end of the epilogue, and just not included the epigraph at all, this would have been an easy four stars for me. I could have lived with the one abrupt shift from Day 20 to Day 364, but having the second abrupt change to Year 631 just took me out.
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A “how it happened” narrative creating the background for earlier novels. Human colonists land on Erna and discover that there’s something that can apparently read their minds and manifest dreams and fears, which they label “fae.” The last quarter of the book jumps far ahead in time, to characters we’ve met before, tenuously linked to the first three-fourths. It didn’t seem necessary to enjoy the earlier novels, but I guess there’s a market for this kind of filling out the narrative.
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Thank you to Netgalley and DAW Books for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. Nightborn: Coldfire Rising will be available on July 18th, 2023.

I fell in love with the Coldfire trilogy, back in the 90’s when I first read it. It was, and still is, one of the most remarkable science fantasy I’ve had the pleasure of reading. Naturally, I was beyond excited by the news that C.S. Friedman was returning to the world of Erna.

When there is such a large gap between books in a series, I always wonder how that will work. Will the author be able to slip back into the voice used to write the books in the first place? Will the new book mesh with the others? I found that Nightborn leans on the same original tone, but adds new threads to the rich tapestry of the plot. The story takes on an even more sinister tone with this prequel, becoming more sci-fi horror than science fantasy. The shift was calculated and perfect.

Nightborn: Coldfire Rising is a prequel, detailing how the planet of Erna was originally discovered and the situations that led to the events in the Coldfire trilogy. It isn’t necessary to read the original trilogy first, although whether or not you do will probably change how you experience this book. Some parts will hit differently if you have read the trilogy.

The world of Erna is inhospitable, to say the least. In the original trilogy, much of the science behind the world comes across as magic. Even the energy that flows across the planet has a name reminiscent of the fantastical: fae. Here in the prequel, science takes precedence. The reader gets to see the evolution of the characters’ mindset as they experience things that they struggle to explain with scientific knowledge.

The characters themselves take a backseat to the events that unfold, although each plays an important role. The reader sees things mainly through the eyes of Leo, the Commander of the Colony, although other points of view are added here and there. He is likable, capable, and sincere in his desire to care for those under his command. He, like everyone else, is also way outside his depth. The entire planet seems to want the colonists dead.

Nightborn reads like a horror novel, with sci-fi elements sprinkled in. It is claustrophobic and unsettling. The pacing lends itself to a slow buildup of tension and growing unease. The writing is incredibly smart, balancing scientific theories with an unraveling of everything logical and unemotional. The give and take between the fae and the human colonists explains a power struggle between the new element (humanity) and the planet itself.

I couldn’t get enough of the story. My jaw was clenching by the end, I was so invested. I was fascinated by, yet dreaded the climax. Nightborn: Coldfire Rising is an engrossing and foreboding read. I highly recommend both this book and the Coldfire trilogy. C.S. Friedman has created a masterpiece.
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C.S. Friedman's Coldfire Trilogy is included in the 10 of My Fave SFF Series You May Not Have Heard Of list that I put together and posted on this very blog a few years back. It's such an underrated series in my opinion and contains not only some of the most exceptional worldbuilding you will ever read but also writing that is both evocative and flawless in its execution. C.S. Friedman writes stories that truly take the reader on a journey like no other and it's a shame that she doesn't often get the recognition that myself and many others believe that she deserves. When I heard that she had a new book coming out and that it was a prequel to one of my favorite story arcs of all-time, I jumped at the chance to get an early copy. I have been hoping for a backstory to what took place on that distant planet of Erna for a long long time, and now here it was in my hand. Would it live up to my expectations and do justice to what I feel is an unassailable masterwork of sff/horror? Here are my thoughts...

First let me say that you don't need to read the Coldfire Trilogy to enjoy this book. It's a fantastic story in its own right and I can see how any reader would find it a solid self-contained read. That being said, I do think that this prequel will have much more of an emotional impact if you have the knowledge of those first three books going into this one. If you have read the series already I also recommend going back and quickly reading the prologue to the first book, Black Sun Rising. It really sets things up and enhances the prequel to the point where it makes it a much more haunting tale than it would be otherwise. Just my opinion though.

NIGHTBORN: COLDFIRE RISING is the perfect segue into the larger series and answered all of those nagging questions I had with regard to the origins of the colonization of the enigmatic planet of Erna. This was always a trilogy that begged for a prequel in my opinion and Friedman has written one that is about as perfect as you could ask for. This prequel gives the reader a front row seat as the first settlers of Erna begin to realize that the planet they all thought might be ideal for colonization slowly reveals that it is anything but. As they struggle to understand what is going on there is also a realization that there's no going back because they have all committed 100% to this and the ship can no longer be used to escape.

Friedman could have easily made this a book that is filled with a bunch of info dumps and a litany of backstory and that would have probably satisfied some readers. But that's not what she does at all with this prequel, rather, she weaves a wholly action-packed and intriguing story all its own that is in itself an enjoyable read that if you didn't know it was a prequel, you would never be the wiser. That's how good this story is and it's also what makes C.S. Friedman one of the best sff writers to ever grace the genre. There are no cutting corners or skimming over of things. I was fully enamored with the mystery of Erna's past and the secrets of the all powerful glowing blue force called the fae that permeates the planet and appears every time the three moons disappear and True Night falls.

If you enjoy science-fiction with a good dose of horror and also some fantasy elements sprinkled in, you should pick this book up immediately. But don't stop there, proceed right on to the Coldfire Trilogy and treat yourself to an amazingly written masterpiece that truly stands out from its peers. C.S. Friedman has once again solidified her place in the upper pantheon of sff authors (as if she needed to). I'm so thankful that I got a chance to peel back the curtain on Erna and the first generation of ancestors of those who I am so familiar with from those beloved original books. NIGHTBORN: COLDFIRE RISING is a wonderful gift that will delight C.S. Friedman's already established fans and should introduce a whole new segment of readers to the multi-faceted greatness of her writing.
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It’s been nearly 30 years since C.S.Friedman concluded her COLDFIRE trilogy, one of my favorite fantasy series with a brilliant character at its core. Now Friedman is back with a prequel, Nightborn, which thanks to the unique setting of the series is actually more science fiction than fantasy. Though not as immersive and compelling as the original trilogy, it’s a fast-moving and often tense book that if anything is too short. It also includes a novella (or sort of includes, it’s complicated) that jumps forward a few centuries and bridges us to the original series. 

One of the questions that quickly arises in these sorts of situations involving prequels has to do with reading order — should you read in chronological order and thus begin here with the prequel or read in publication order and begin with the original trilogy. The short answer is you can do either quite happily; you don’t need to have read the trilogy to enjoy Nightborn  nor does Nightborn spoil anything for the original trilogy. The longer answer is that while you can start either place, my strong recommendation is to begin with the trilogy. First is for those reasons noted above (more immersive and compelling); it’s a classic for a reason. My second reason is a bit more subjective; prequels tend to “explain” things (why is the world like this, why do characters do this and not that, why is that funny thing named that), and I kind of like not having everything explained to me. Finally, while Nightborn works as a standalone, I think it’s a richer read knowing where all this early stuff leads to. Finally, the novella at the end will probably feel hugely abrupt and detached if you haven’t read the original trilogy, as it involves one of the characters from those books. For all those reasons then, while you can start here; I’d advise picking up Black Sun Rising first. I don’t need to tell you to pick up the next two because you’ll do that all on your own once you’ve gobbled down book one, believe me. 

The series takes place on the planet Erna, home to a strange phenomenon known as the “fae”, an odd energy that can mold itself (or be molded) by a human’s thoughts. The rub is those thoughts don’t have to be intentional. So if you happen to be thinking of that monster that used to scare you as a child, wholly unintentionally you just might animate that monster via the fae and then, well, it will do whatever it did that scared you (this is no spoiler btw; all this is laid out in the book’s blurb). At the time of the trilogy, humans have learned to adapt to the fae (not that’s it’s any less dangerous) and even “work” it with intent. Nightborn takes us all the way back to the beginning — maybe a thousand or so year ago as a very rough guess — when a long-traveling colonist ship from Earth has arrived, its crew woken up from a lengthy hibernation after their ship’s computer has determined the planet beneath them is habitable despite some issues mostly centered around geologic instability. The ship was supposed to spend only five years determining habitability, but it took nearly a century, which makes the colonists more than a little nervous. Unfortunately, they don’t really have any other options. So down to the planet they go, hoping for the best.

Oh well. So much for the best. It takes all of one night for one of the colonists to turn up dead. Then it’s another. Then another. What follows is a tense and quick-moving attempt to figure out what’s killing them off one by one (if you’re guessing the fae, remember the colonists didn’t get to read the book blurb). 

The colony is relatively small, and the book’s focus even smaller, taking as its focus the colony’s Year One leader (after a year they’ll decide how they want to structure leadership) and his inner circle of advisors via third-person POVs and also a first-person log kept by the leader. The main characters are Leo the captain, Lise the head of medical, Ian the botanist, Dani the chaplain, Angie who has a focus on symbol and ritual and medicine, and a few others. We also get flashbacks for some of them showing either some past trauma or some event that motivated them to join a settler ship. 

As noted, Nightborn moves at a fast pace, and I’d call that both a strength and a weakness. The speed helps add to the sense of urgency, of near panic, of confusion and fear. Just like the colonists, the reader doesn’t get much breathing space, and it’s a nice mirroring effect between the reading experience and the narrative. And even knowing the fae is what causing the deaths, because of the nature of the phenomenon, also like the colonists the reader is never sure what form it will take, when it will strike, or where, or at whom. All of that is obviously the strength part of the equation. The weakness aspect is it moves a little too fast for me. I would have liked the story to slow down a bit and stretch things out a bit: a little more time for the colonists to figure out what was happening, a few more hit and miss attempts to deal with it once they’ve figured it out, a little more time to understand at least one character’s actions a bit more fully, a bit more time spent seeing the colony actually do some colony-ing before everything goes to hell. Nightborn comes in under 300 pages, twenty percent of which is the added novella that leaps ahead centuries, and I for one wouldn’t have minded another 70-100 pages spent with the colony. That said, I know a lot of people like their books stripped down, short and sweet, so this may be nothing but a strength if you’re in that camp.

Despite the book’s pace and relative brevity, Friedman does take the time, particularly via the flashbacks, to give us some good characterization, especially with regard to Leo, whose story is particularly moving. And the ending is highly effective, perhaps predicable but in the “inevitable” way that adds to the impact rather in the overly familiar “can see where this is going, ho-hum” fashion. 

The novella, as I said, takes a big jump forward in time and honestly, feels a bit detached from what came before, both in terms of narrative and style, which is much more vivid, lyrical, and nigh on gothic, as well as fitting more in the fantasy rather than sci-fi vein. It’s well written, beautifully written in a number of places, and tense in its own way, but it will I’d say play much better if you’ve read the trilogy. 

Nightborn stands on its own, both in that you don’t have to have read the original trilogy and in that its main point is resolved by the end. That said, there’s a lot of history between what happens here and what happens in that trilogy, so it’s possibly we’ll see more books filling in those gaps. Based on this one, I’d say that’s a good thing, so I’m hoping Friedman isn’t done revisiting this world. Recommended, but again, as book four rather than book one.
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A huge thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for this advance reader's copy. I love the original Coldfire trilogy, and to be given the opportunity to read this early, was amazing and wonderful. Friedman has written another brilliant book. This story introduces you to the world of Erna before it was the Erna most know in the original trilogy. It's well written and gives the reader a new introduction to this world. If you haven't read the original trilogy, this is a great introduction. If you have read the original trilogy, it's like coming home. And spoilers, but a favorite character makes his appearance near the end. Thank you C.S. Friedman for revisiting this world. I will be buying it when it comes out, and gifting it to the person who first introduced me to Erna. Best book I've read this year so far. Now excuse me while I go reread the Coldfire trilogy.
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Nightborn: Coldfire Rising by C.S. Friedman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I may be in the minority to say that this one is NOT a perfect entry point in the Coldfire Trilogy, but I won't deny that it is still an excellent companion novel.

A little backstory: This trilogy is one of the few truly excellent crossover Fantasy/SF/Horror novels that are equal in every portion. The worldbuilding is very well thought-out and very memorable, even after decades of reading so many other SF and Fantasy.

The surprise really did it for me. The slow build-up and reveal, the inherent complexity and coherence. *chef's kiss*

This short prequel of a novel really lays ALL those secrets out and if you already know the story, it's great... especially since we get to follow the big bad's beginnings and progress. Muahahahaha

Oh yeah, it's great. I may have a few quibbles about the poor preparedness of the original colony, but streamlined like this? It's still pretty great.
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This book felt “off” to me. I haven’t read the original Coldfire trilogy, but Nightborn is supposed to be a prequel, so I thought I’d be ok.

Part 1: Yes, there was no need to read the other books first for this. A group of colonizers on their generation ship find a seemingly suitable planet, calling it Erna. They get to work on creating a community, but there’s a mysterious energy from the planet that connects to all parts of it (living creatures/plants). It seems to reject the Terrans and their dreams and nightmares are manifested into reality from their interactions with this property. I don’t like that the mysterious energy is called “fae”, I think it’s confusing and misleading. When I heard there was “fae” in this book I was picturing elves or fairy like sentient creatures the humans would be fighting.

Overall Part 1 was written fairly well; it was an interesting take on space voyagers and how they accomplish their mission on their new planet. The characters were meh, as several were introduced as important, but only 4 or so had any backstory or narration time. The writing lacked description. I wanted to know more about the alien landscape and creatures (even the bugs!) and hoped for detailed prose that I could picture, there really isn’t any imagery descriptions provided. 
I wish there would’ve been more written about the early settler years. We only get to see up to Year 2 and there are still so many unanswered questions, things are still breaking down and going wrong in the settlement, and a group are heading out on an exploration mission….


BAM!!! Part 2 is 600+ years later….
It follows a random dude that means nothing to me, but I understand he’s a prominent character in the other books in the series.

I basically gave up here. It was a huge let down to not follow the original main characters any further. Why did I read all these pages to suddenly fall off a cliff and end up 600 years in the future?! Literally nothing was confirmed or resolved or answered in Part 1?! 

Seriously annoying, and I wouldn’t have even included Part 2 in this book, just make a separate short story or something. Super super bummed that I wasted my time with this book. I had high hopes as I liked The Magister Trilogy by this author, but my opinion has changed and I won’t bother reading the rest of the books in the Coldfire series.
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This is a prequel to the Coldfire trilogy, one of my favorite sci-fantasy series.  While you could read this either before or after the trilogy, I read it after and I believe that I enjoyed the trilogy more because of that experience (YMMV).  Keep in mind this is not hard sci-fi, but a prequel to what is more like a dark fantasy series (so the science is good but still not solid); however, In the series, you eventually come to realize the world on which it all happens is an earth colony that essentially lost its tech and was more or less a primitive semi-feudal society.  This book explains how that came about … and the colony story was actually pretty compelling and well done … with the action starting up quickly and ramping up just as fast (perhaps too fast).  Although there are some 200 original colonists, the story revolves about a dozen of so personalities, each with their own back story (some of which are explored in flashbacks at the beginning of the chapters.  The main characters are Leo (mission commander), Lisa (Doctor), Dani (chaplain) and Angie (a holistic neural researcher/occultist) with some important side characters, such as Ian the biologist.  At the confusion of the story, you will have a solid understanding of the relationship between humans and their new world (aka Erna) that for me would have detracted a bit from the mystery/puzzle presented in the beginning of the trilogy (which is what I am happy to have read this last).  What is missing is the story of Gerald … whose story has such an outsized impact on the trilogy that its short treatment at the end just didn’t seem like it was enough.  All of that considered, if you enjoyed the trilogy you will very likely enjoy this prequel … if you enjoyed the prequel, you might enjoy the trilogy (which I liked primarily for the well executed redemption arc of the hero’s journey).

I was given this free advance reader copy (ARC) ebook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

#NightbornColdfireRising #NetGalley
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Prequel to the Coldfire trilogy.

I read this one first because I didn’t want to start another trilogy right now. 

The story starts with Annalise Perez being woken from Cryo by Leo. She is medical personnel aboard a sleeper ship sent to find and colonize a habitable planet. Once she is awoken, Leo’s lack of straight answers about their situation has her worried. 

It turns out the planet is not the worry but the distance and therefore time. The hopeful planet had not been suitable so the ship kept looking and looking until it ended up on the edge of the galaxy, 20,000 light years from earth. It’s been a long time and they are so far away they have essentially become a lost colony automatically, knowing they will not have contact, hope of resupply or more colonists coming from earth.

And beyond that, the ship took more than its standard 5 years to study the planet, it took 90 and still woke Leo up. So he only woke up 9 others rather than all 200, just in case it is too dangerous for everyone to inhabit they have the possibility of the 10 going down and sending the rest on their way. They can’t go back to sleep because chance of fatality increases exponentially with a second cryo freezing. 

But eventually, I’m talking first chapter here folks, the 200 are woken. Before they head down we get a POV from Leo who has a flashback to his time on Earth. 

Then Tia gets a POV, she has recently lost someone and is in mourning when the planet is named Erna in honor of the woman who funded the trip. She also gets a flashback to the polluted and overcrowded Earth. The government heavily restricts reproduction and it’s very obviously a dystopia that would see people leave for the hardship never seeing all they know and the hardship of exomigration. 

We have other POV’s from Ian and Angie, a handful.

People of the future have to become Hunter gatherers, which is what they and we are built for anyway buts not what they were raised with. 

Beyond these mundane difficulties, the planet Erna is odd, what you could call supernatural because the science can’t explain it. Events become progressively creepier and more disturbing. A fire that is chilling, cold haunts peoples nightmares, and in a planet with 3 moons that keep the world lit and the galactic core apparent in the sky, when all 3 moons are absent and true night falls, what will happen?

I like writing, very easy to get into and the feeling of pioneering into the unknown and its monsters give the story a nice dichotomy of tones. An alien planet is something humans are not built for, and in a sense that makes them post-human, even more so the children that will follow. 

The age of sail feel in space is cool, reminds me some of DJ Butler’s Abbott in Darkness. There is a decent amount of cursing you’d expect with this kind of sci-fi. 

There is a short story released in 2012 called Dominion that takes place after this novel and before the trilogy. It was revised and is included after the novel. It is about a sorcerer, somehow connected with Dark Fae, called Gerald Tarrant.  It seems like maybe there will be even more prequel novels at some point. Also the epilogue takes place at the end of the first year.
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Awesome read! I may be one of the few that has not read the Coldfire Trilogy, though I have read other works by CS Friedman (Alien Shores and Dreamwalkers series). With that said, I'm actually glad I didn't have advanced knowledge of Erna and the fae because going into this blind really amped up the mystery of what was going on, and it's definitely going to propel me into Coldfire because I want to see how things develop. First, I want to say that I think Friedman is a master of science-fantasy. I wouldn't call this hard SF (so if that's what you're looking for, you may be disappointed), even with the premise being grounded in settlers colonizing a planet and the craziness that ensues when the planet rejects them. The fae is magic, and Friedman is masterful is weaving the science with the magic. The pacing is so fast and the attacks on the colonists by the fae, which manifest differently every time, really sucks you into the story and keeps you wanting to figure out what's going to happen (if you read Coldfire, that element of mystery may not be as palpable, because you know). And even as the colonists think they've figured something out about the fae, other things happen that challenge what they think they understand. They come to some sort of resolution at the end, which has a very shocking conclusion, though things still seem uncertain and tense, which I can appreciate given that this is a prequel set hundreds of years prior to Coldfire, where the story really is. So needless to say, now I want to know how humans and the fae come to relate to one another, how the magic evolves, how humans themselves may have evolved given the way the fae plays on their fears and desires. I will say, though, that without having read Coldfire, I can sense that there are elements of the story that attempt to lay groundwork for what's to come that I am not fully able to yet appreciate or grasp the significance of yet - in particular, religion and sacrifice and the way in which Dani and Angie serve as opposing perspectives on how to understand faith/belief, how it is that the magic specifically manifests in certain places, particularly with what seems to be a vampire like creature that appears. And there may be other smaller examples that I missed altogether. Still, however, as I move into Coldfire, I think these will be elements I can come to appreciate in hindsight.

One other thing is that I really loved the fact that the colony didn't devolve into anarchy as death and other frightening things were happening around the colonists. Friedman provides a a rationale for this with respect to the types of people (with a particular mental profile) being selected for this project, but I do want to say that I think there is often too much emphasis in fiction or movies on how it is that human groups break down when things get rough. I had recently read an analysis of William Goldings Lord of the Flies that criticized this very problem and the kind of worldview that illustrates, while also offering counter-examples. I greatly appreciated the fact that the colonists continued to try and work together over the course of the story. This isn't to say there were interpersonal conflicts that emerged - this isn't a story where the conflict is completely external. But the conflicts that did emerge didn't necessarily result in the colonists factionalizing. I don't yet know what this means with respect to the Coldfire world, but to me this is a move away from a pretty well worn trope in a lot of fiction. 

Overall, I loved this as my introduction into the Coldfire world and can't wait to jump into Black Sun Rising!
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Nightborn: Coldfire Rising is CS Friedman’s return to a world that gave a masterclass to a generation of SF writers, once again providing rich characters, intricate worldbuilding, and a nail-biting sense of dread. Any time readers ask me to recommend great SF writers, CS Friedman tops the list.
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This is an honest review in exchange for an ARC copy from Netgalley. Thanks to DAW and Netgalley both.

Okay, I read the original trilogy a long, long time ago and remember vaguely that I loved it. This new Novella--may I call it that because it is too short?--is set in the same universe and is the story of the first human settlement in that world.

I do think the story, the plot, and the characters were interesting but the story was too short for me to be able to review it fairly.

The one aspect that I didn't like was the final 4th of the story. All of a sudden the story is moved 600 years into the future just to introduce us to Gerald Terrant. There are no rhymes or reasons for this other than for the readers of the original trilogy to gush over memories. The jump is completely unnecessary and jarring and takes away from the beauty of the story. I gave this a generous 4 stars but it probably deserves a solid 3 stars.
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This was a first for me, a rich blend of both science fiction and fantasy. Intense with a mystery that keeps the novel moving to reveal a complicated world with complex characters. The wordsmithing is fantastic and captures scenes and feelings in raw detail. It is a dark science fiction/fantasy book and gave me goosebumps from trepidation as a vulnerable population makes sense of all the unknowns.  

C.S. Friedman wrote many various perspectives (and does it well), but I prefer to connect to only a few individuals when reading. 

It can be enjoyed without reading the others as a prequel to C.S. Friedman’s series: great work and a great read. I highly recommend it for those that like suspense, science fiction, and fantasy.
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Nightborn: Coldfire Rising by C.S. Friedman

It has been a minute since I’ve read any C.S. Friedman.  This story takes place on a far distant planet where a colony ship that has gone awry deposits its occupants.  After reading the book, I recalled watching Forbidden Planet, a movie that came out in 1956.   The monster in the movie was created by a manifestation of Moibius's Id. I don’t know if Friedman is old enough to have seen the movie but there are some parallels between the book and the movie.   The colony finds the planet itself seems to be opposed to them settling there.   The immediate problems are resolved and the story jumps 600 years in the future and occupants of that time period are now the protagonists. 
I enjoyed the book.  The concept of Earth Mother has been explored many times.   This iteration is entertaining and thought-provoking. 
I look forward to the next book in the series.
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this is Tera Nova meets Danger Will Robinson. without the charming robots. Lots of over thinking and could use a bit more science.
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