Today, I get to interview my very first author on Just A Glimpse, and I’m so excited that it gets to be Rachel Rossano. I’ve been beta reading stories for Rachel for what feels like ages now, just because her stories are so immersive and take the reader on such amazing journeys that feel like they last a lifetime.
Rachel has a ton of published works out there, her newest being Seventh Born, which I’m reviewing today. Read my review of Seventh Born below (no spoilers, promise!) and then a short blurb from Rachel herself on how she worked to fashion the detailed and complex world of Pratinus.
Seventh Born is an amazing book that deserves every star it gets. I was swept away right from the beginning and it only got better as I continued on. It’s a book about faith and love, loyalty and trust, and above all, about choosing to do the right thing in the midst of the hardest of circumstances.
Seventh Born is a vibrantly full story told from the points of view of two characters who come from very different walks of life. Hadrian Aleron is a seventh son, meaning his mental and telekinetic Talents far surpass any of his peers. He’s chosen by the aging king to take the throne during the midst of an increasingly difficult season in the kingdom. He is more than capable for the task at hand, but the true hardship comes from his faith — he openly serves the God of heaven, while the grand majority of the kingdom serves the goddess, a fact which brings him more trouble than he’s prepared to handle.
The counterpart main character of the story is fifteen year old Zezilia Ilar, daughter of one of the lower monarchs of the kingdom Hadrian rules. Zezilia was born the disappointment and the dishonor. As the seventh child in her family, her parents were devastated that she was born a daughter, rather than a son, ruining their chances to have a Talented seventh son who could ascend to the throne in Hadrian’s stead. Zezilia, however, unbeknownst to her parents, is highly Talented, perhaps more so than any other female has ever been, and even more powerful than many of the trained men around her. She’s taken in by the lovable Errol Silas and his family, who acts as her mentor and teacher, and trains her to access and control her newly-discovered talents.
This book was amazing in so many ways. It’s rare for me to find a book that not only touches my heart, but is absolute inspiration for the writer side of me. I became so sucked into the worldbuilding and the politics and foundations of this fantasy kingdom that my own writing was seriously enhanced because of it. As far as the plot goes, Seventh Born isn’t heavy or depressing or dark, which makes it a truly uplifting read, and yet it’s somehow still incredibly gripping and fascinating, enough so that I never wanted to put the book down. It’s entirely a world and a plot that I want to live in.
I really loved the different portrayals of faith in this story. Hadrian, as the persecuted spokesman for God, stepped into the story already firm in his faith, and yet he was tested time and time again, and had to very literally choose between his faith or his life multiple times. I really liked the periodic seasons of heavy doubts he went through, and how he always found himself desperately clinging to God to pull him through. On the other side of that was Zezilia, who begins the story innocently unaware of just who God is, and over her time spent with the Silas family, begins to slowly but steadily realize how badly she needs Him. And the portrayals of faith didn’t just stop with the two main characters. The side characters, too, though they came from all different walks of life, all had some sort of outward stance on their faith that made the story realistic and really influenced the plot and the characters around them; some of them were really grounded in their faith and trusted God easily and without question, and others outright denied God and were opposed to the idea of faith at all.
I think one of my favorite things about Seventh Born was Zezilia’s character. She was the perfect blend of bravery and submission, and her soft-spoken nature and subtle strength really drew me in. She comes into the story at fifteen years old, nearly ten years younger than her counterpart main character, Hadrian, and as such, she’s new and naive to everything: her Talents, her faith, her place in society. She has a lovely personality that you can absolutely see develop over the course of the series as she continues to grow and come into her own, and while she begins to build an emotional armor of resilience after experiencing harsher sides of life, she never fully loses the innocence and kindness that makes her so endearing. She’s obedient and willing to learn, not cocky and just naturally an expert at everything she touches, like so many feminist heroines out there. And yet even in her tenderhearted submission, there’s an insane amount of strength and talent — she’s *good* at what she does, and the reader catches onto that right away. She’s always learning, always willing to be taught, always ready to step into whatever role she’s needed for, and her character never seems to stop growing and evolving.
Overall, this book was amazing. Emotional, exciting, inspirational, and altogether too hard to put down. Rachel Rossano has a true talent for storytelling, and I absolutely cannot wait to see more from her.
Here’s a little glimpse at what the worldbuilding is like in the The Talented series.
Pratinus (which means green in Latin) began with the concept of seventh sons and the talents. Seventh born sons being exceptional has been a reoccurring theme in folktales and lore for a long time. Whether they were lucky or powerful in magic, they were special. Using this concept, I started building a world around it.
Although I drew a great deal of inspiration from Roman architecture and the Latin language, but when it came to the governmental structure, Pratinus breaks the mold. There are two sides to the government. The non-talent side is made up of seven ruling families that take turns ruling as the high king. When the high king is appointed to the post, it is a lifetime job. His family moves into the High King’s residences and he rules with the help of representatives of the other ruling families. Upon his death, the rule passes to another family. My heroine is the daughter of one of the under kings.
On the other side of the government is a single representative of the talented population, functioning as second in power second only to the high king. The talented are those who can speak mind to mind, which is called sending, and move things without touching them, which they call mass moving. The title of Sept Son (or seventh son) is given to the strongest seventh born son out of a series of only sons. His office is to oversee the regulation, education, and training of all the talent users of the kingdom.
This balance of power between those who aren’t strong in talent (the high king and the ruling families) and those who are judged on talent alone (the Sept Son and his administration) is integral to keeping the country well represented. Non-nobles, like my hero, are equally eligible along with the nobles to take up the responsibilities of Sept Son.
Although, this balance was originally supposed to work indefinitely, through the course of my trilogy, my villains deconstruct it. Tearing the system down as my heroes and heroine try to continue to uphold the government that they have sworn to defend was a very complex process that I will save for the next book’s release.
Pretty cool right? It definitely inspired my own story world in amazing ways.
If you’re hooked, go check out Seventh Born on Amazon and take a second to browse her other titles. There’s so many good ones to choose from, I don’t even know which I want to read next!
Rachel Rossano is a happily married mother of three children. She spends her days teaching, mothering, and keeping the chaos at bay. After the little ones are in bed, she immerses herself in the fantasy worlds of her books. Tales of romance, adventure, and virtue set in a medieval fantasy world are her preference, but she also writes speculative fantasy and a bit of science fiction.