Nightborn: Coldfire Rising
by C.S. Friedman
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Pub Date 18 Jul 2023 | Archive Date 18 Jul 2023
A ship full of colonists arrive on a seemingly hospitable planet, only to discover that it harbors a terrifying secret. Soon the settlers find themselves caught up in a desperate battle for survival against the fae, a natural force with the power to prey upon the human mind itself, bringing a person’s greatest fears and darkest nightmares to life.
As Colony Commander Leon Case and Chief Medic Lise Perez struggle to find a way to control the fae before more people die, other settlers have ideas of their own…and they may prove more of a threat to colony than the fae itself.
Nightborn: Coldfire Rising is a tale that blends sci-fi, fantasy, and horror, suspenseful and emotionally intense, as a handful of humans struggle to survive on an alien world that seems determined to kill them. In the end they will have to draw upon both scientific knowledge and mystical traditions to save themselves.
Whether you're just discovering the Coldfire universe through this prequel or returning to it as a classic favorite, Nightborn: Coldfire Rising is the perfect entry point to this unique, genre-blending space fantasy epic.
Praise for the Coldfire trilogy
“Readers will be enthralled.” —Publishers Weekly
“Complex and compelling... The richly detailed setting and strong supporting characters give substance to a tale that explores the consequences of embracing evil in hopes of achieving its redemption. A priority purchase.” —Library Journal
“Stunning…. A feast for those who like their fantasies dark, and as emotionally heady as a rich, red wine.” —Locus
“The creative genius of C. S. Friedman burns brightly with the publication of her stunning new novel, blending elements of science fiction and fantasy into an extraordinary reading experience.” —Rave Reviews
“Some of the best writing I have seen in quite a while, and the ending is excellent. Buy this one. Don't wait for it to come out in paperback. Very highly recommended.” —Science Fiction Review
“A good mystery wrapped in an adventure story and set against an original and often fascinating background.” —Science Fiction Chronicle
“Epic fantasy with a keen, dark edge ... shows off Friedman's gifts of craft and authorial insight.” —South Bend Tribune
“Words do not suffice to describe the sheer imaginative genius, not to mention incredible power, of Ms. Friedman's formidable storytelling gift—you simply have to experience it.” —Romantic Times
“Hard to put down.” —Midwest Book Review
Pre-pub: DRC, cover share, review outreach, Goodreads & social media giveaways
Publicity: National media campaign including print, online, podcast, and blog coverage
Advertising: Search & Social, OpenRoad, Reddit, BookRiot
Followers and Fans: Grass-roots marketing squad, Facebook ~2.3k followers, Goodreads >1k
Events & Cons: Local events, virtual events, and promotion at larger conventions such as SDCC, NYCC, ECCC, etc
Library: DRC & series outreach to librarians, along with themed round-up promotions
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 30 members
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.
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!
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.
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.
Nothing beats getting new books from some very talented authors, and C.S. Friedman is one of those! Another absolute classic.
First off, I loved the Coldfire series and the Magister series from Friedman, while those two are more geared towards the fantasy aspect, Nightborn is more about the shift from sci-fi to fantasy.
The way this story weaves horror and Sci-fi together is pretty amazing.
When the fae starts to affect the earth colonists throughout their camp, there’s a sense of fear, but also something familiar about it.
I love the circle back to the way the fae respects sacrifice.
This book also includes Dominion, which I read years ago.
It’s always great to revisit Gerald Tarrant’s story and origin though. He’s still one of my favorites, a very complex reformed villain / anti-hero.
Nightborn is a prequel to C. S. Friedman's ColdFire Trilogy. I purposely did not read over the trilogy before divulging into the book because I wanted to see how well it stands alone. It did not disappoint.
The basis of Nightborn is to introduce us to the founding of Erna by humans and their discovery of the fae. Friedman is a master of making characters seem real, giving them good back stories and diving into the colonists and the early struggles of settling on a new planet.
The story unfolds with a hint of horror. It pulled me in rather quickly, as a reader, and I must admit I started reading late in the day and finished the next morning. It's definitely one of those "cover to cover" novels.
The appearance of her most notable character in the Coldfire Trilogy late in the book throws several hints of how he came into being, and I'm sure these are indications of more stories to come. I eagerly await them.
I just finished reading Nightborn, and it’s incredible! Well worth the wait! I found myself caught up in it, immersed—at least once—so deeply that, had my wife not been sitting next to me as I read, I would’ve let a tear roll down my face. That’s not an exaggeration or hyperbole, either. Everything about that particular scene shook me, because it was so well written that it took me back to a dark place I’d hoped never to revisit. Is that melodramatic? Absolutely. Is it also the truth? Unequivocally. The way the author’s words reached into my psyche and pulled that pain up from where I’d buried it so long ago is a testament to her gift for storytelling. She should feel very proud of almost making me cry.
While Nightborn fits perfectly in the world of the Coldfire Trilogy, it is not the world of the Hunter. Not yet. Nightborn is very close to “hard science fiction”. While there is plenty of mysticism and religious symbology, it’s still rooted in the plausible and has a certain logic to it. Nightborn is about people that are culturally familiar to us, how they discovered the fae, what that cost them, and it also offers a glimpse of what they might gain.
Now, Dominion, that’s a whole other story! Literally! It drops you right smack in the middle of a world chock-full of malevolent demons, knights with shining swords, and soul-selling sorcerers! It revolves around Gerald Tarrant, of course, but you also meet a knight of the church with an unexpected gift. Amoril, Gerald’s protégé from the Coldfire Trilogy, makes his debut and you learn more about him than expected. But to me, the most interesting character in Dominion is the Forest. Not a walking-talking character, of course, but close. Through its interactions with the other three characters—and they are interactions, not just the environment reacting to characters, make no mistake—you get a glimpse into what makes the Forest tick, and what it was like before the Hunter.
Together, the two stories are the yin-yang of Coldfire. Nightborn shows you the “science-y” side of things and how people react to something that they’re completely unprepared for, something completely unexpected and unnatural (unnatural to them, anyway!) On the other end of the spectrum, Dominion shows you both humanity’s ultimate compromise with that unknown, and its ultimate weapon in its fight against it.
I have not previously read any of the Coldfire series, so I went into this prequel with no real idea of what I was getting myself into. The lack of knowledge wasn’t a problem; this works fine as a stand-alone. I could tell when something was being introduced that was important to the series (the casual, “oh, she called them Nightborn” or “we decided on ‘fae’” felt prophetic) but it wasn’t awkward.
As a stand-alone, this gripped me right away. Chapter One immediately thrusts you into a mystery to be solved, with the perfect balance of world-building and plot. The entire novel had an ominous vibe to it. Not super dark, but an undercurrent of unease with a mild sense of threat throughout. I stayed up late on several nights wanting to know what was going to happen next. This is not horror, but there are some suspenseful moments as well as descriptions of violence.
Decent character development for a novel that is not really character-driven. Dialogue is natural. Prose flows well. A lot of unanswered questions about the world-building, but I’m not mad about it. That’s to be expected with a prequel. Some interesting plot twists that are foreshadowed enough to make sense when they happen without being heavy-handed.
Overall I was impressed. I may even pick up the first book of the original series to see where things go from here.
I have followed C.S. Friedman for many years, I love her writing. The original coldfire books were addictive, dark and wild. This book took me back to those books and didn't disappoint. We are there at the landing from Earth, living with the colonists on a planet wild, wonderful and so deeply deadly to human beings. We are there with the discovery of the Fae and the tactics used to learn to control them. I loved it, every spooky minute. The language used is deep, descriptive and beautiful. I wanted so much more and it is a nice large book. There is even a wonderful short story at the end. Well wonderful in my opinion as it is a horrifying, terror wracked run in a forest with an old friend. But yes it was fantastic. READ this book!
4.5/5 stars! I picked up this story strictly based on its beautiful cover. It reminded me of the old Wheel of Time covers. Then I read the premise and was hooked. This prequel is an epic start to a science-fiction tale of survival. The characters are written with so much raw genuine expression that I found myself mourning their struggles alongside them. This was a really enjoyable read and I will be checking out the Coldfire Trilogy next.
I received an advance review copy for free through NetGalley, and I am leaving this review voluntarily
This book is quite good, with the colonists struggling to build a colony on Erna, a world at the edge of the galaxy, and to adapt to life on a world quite unlike Earth. The struggle of the colonists to build a new life as their expectations have to continually shift is well laid out and carries the plot forward well. The novella Dominion is also included. Dominion follows Gerald Tarrant in a perilous forest journey, as well as Faith, a young knight abandoned by her fellows in the same forest. The transition from the world of the colonists to the world of their descendants is rather jarring, but not unexpected, given the threads laid out in Nightborn. The struggle to control the Fae runs throughout both works and is surprisingly fierce. I haven't read the trilogy, but if it is anything like Nightborn, it is certainty worth reading.
this was a great prequel in the Coldfire trilogy, it had everything that I was looking for in the description. The characters were what I was looking for and it worked overall with the story. C.S. Friedman has a great writing style and it was what I was hoping for. I was invested in what was going and thought the world was what I was hoping for.
“Very well.” He bowed his head. “Without further ado.” He signaled for one of his assistants to bring forward a tray with a towel laid over it, which he took and held up in front of him. “I bring you tonight’s main course, a dish I fondly call Ode to Earth.” He nodded toward his assistant, who reached up and pulled the towel off with a flourish."