C.K. Donnelly Fantasy Author | Unsuccessful Quitter (tm)
A magical realm marches to war while a teen hero explores her potential in this second installment of a YA fantasy series.
Sixteen-year-old Mirana Pinal is a powerful Trine from the Kin-Deren province of Kinderra. Many people in her world have Aspects, enhanced skills in Healing, Seeing, or Defending. But Mirana possesses all three magical talents. After a devastating battle at Two Rivers Ford—during which many of her own people, the Fal’kin, and their enemy, the Ken’nar perished—she’s in the Sün-Kasal province with Trine Tetric Garis. The older Trine is her mentor, teaching her that life and death are intimately connected, as are their magical counterparts, the Light from Within and the Power from Without. Mirana doesn’t like killing, not even animals to eat. Yet she must prepare for a prophetic battle with the Dark Trine for control of Jasal’s Keep, the Kin-Deren seat of power, and, eventually, the rest of Kinderra. Meanwhile, Teague Beltran, Mirana’s childhood love whom she left behind for his own safety, heads to Edara in the Varn-Erdal province. If the Ken’nar succeed in overrunning the capital, the Dark Trine will be one step closer to Jasal’s Keep. Though Teague possesses no Aspect, his herbalist skills make him valuable to Defender Prime Liaonne Edaran, ruler of Varn-Erdal. Elsewhere, Mirana must withstand the Dark Trine’s manipulation while mastering her powers over life and death. Donnelly’s high-stakes sequel grapples with the complexities of lingering love and the ethics of war. Teague’s romantic life nearly comes full circle as he ponders the safety of Illenne il’Talz, a new love interest, given that his fate is tied to the coming cataclysm. The Dark Trine’s evil is marked by the Soul Harvest, a spell that results in the “erasure of self-preservation and free will.” With her narrative building slowly toward chaos, the author gives epic fantasy aficionados some truly grim moments, as when Liaonne “hacked at the body until it became an unrecognizable heap of flesh and torn metal armor.” A stunning twist
two-thirds into the story electrifies the pace and gives the series a darker tone, making the next volume unmissable.
A mature and deftly plotted fantasy sequel by a shrewd author.
— Kirkus Review
Donnelly’s immersive second volume in the Kinderra Saga follows 16- year-old Mirana Pinal’s journey to protect her world of Kinderra from destruction. Mirana is a Trine—“One who possess all three powers of the Aspects”—and must save her people by finding her ancestor’s watch watchtower, built to defend Kinderra before it falls into the Dark Trine’s hands, while also learning about her own powers from the legendary Light Trine, Tetric Garis. Meanwhile, 16-year-old Teague Beltran, Mirana’s childhood friend and love, seeks the Dark Trine to avenge his parents’ deaths, using his skills as an herbsman to fight against the Dark Trine’s followers, the Ken’nar. But all is not as it seems, and Mirana struggles to learn who she can trust in her battle for survival.
Young adult readers will be drawn to Mirana as she fights to find her place in “war, the endless cycle of hate” threatening her people. Her journey to understand and believe in the source of her own power is painful at times,
yet often moving, and she rebels against trusting herself, as in her own words—“using the Power from Without isn’t a selfless giving of one’s life force from within the Aspects, it is taking.” Also compelling is Teague’s conviction that “my anger and grief are all I have left” as well as his desperation to be able to physically fight his enemies.
Donnelly includes a glossary of relevant terminology that, while helpful, can also overwhelm, as it charts suffixes and linguistic matters. However, that dedication to invented languages, and the maps and appendices, invite readers to delve as deeper into Kinderra as they care to; fantasy fans especially will be pleased with the convincing world that Donnelly has taken such pains to build. Naturally, this vivid voyage into a well-established realm and its ongoing battle between Light and Dark builds to cliffhanger— and exemplifies its genre.
Takeaway: Young adult and fantasy readers will relish this world of magic and war, with characters facing grief and self-doubt. Great for fans of: Cinda Williams Chima’s The Warrior Heir, Megan Bannen’s Soulswift.
Design and typography: A-
Marketing copy: A
The second novel in the Kinderra Saga, TRINE FALLACY continues the story begun in TRINE RISING with energy, intensity, and a few breathtaking plot twists that will engage and enthrall the reader.
Mirana Pinal continues to struggle with what it is to be a Trine, and seeks to unearth the ancestral secrets that might save Kinderra from the feared Dark Trine and his armies, while her former sweetheart, Teague Beltran, is torn between revenge for his parents and duty to his people in the second book of the Kinderra Saga series.
TRINE FALLACY is the second book in the Kinderra Saga series, and is an exception to the rule that the middle book or books in a series are usually the weakest. If anything, it’s even better-written, livelier and more full of revelations and plot twists than its predecessor, TRINE RISING, and that’s saying quite a lot. It is a continuation, however, and while it’s possible to make sense of what’s going on without having read the first novel, it’s far better to read them in their proper order, as there’s a lot of setup in the first book that is continued and built upon in this one.
There’s a great deal of character development going on here, with Mirana Pinal and her former sweetheart, Teague Beltran, both learning a lot about who they are, what they might have the potential to become, and how they can best care for and serve the people they love and want to protect. Both of them make some unexpected and heartbreaking discoveries during the course of the story, which change them in equally unexpected ways. All the characters in this book feel real and whole, and even the villain has perfectly rational-seeming, perfectly believable justifications for his actions and goals, justifications that make his actions completely understandable even if readers are convinced that his assumptions and rationalizations are wrong. It helps that we get to see the story from multiple points of view and perspectives, giving us a wider and clearer version of what’s going on. Even so, there are still revelations in this book with the power to surprise and startle. But once readers do figure out what’s going on, the author’s deft hand with foreshadowing becomes visible, with acts and words that take on new meaning and new clarity in the light of the book’s plot twists.
The world-building, too, is brilliant – the cultures, beliefs, assumptions, and history of the peoples of Kinderra are complex, intricate, meaningful, and believably realistic, and they are revealed casually, in natural ways as the events of the story unfold, without too much tedious explanation or narration. The story is packed full of action and adventure, and in the nearly 400-page novel, there is not one dull spot or tedious interval to be found. If anything, the book feels too short, and be warned, it’s very hard to put down once you’ve picked it up. But if you love a complex and well-written fantasy tale with relatable characters and a vigorous and engaging plot, it’s also very hard to go wrong with the Kinderra Saga.
The second novel in the Kinderra Saga, TRINE FALLACY continues the story begun in TRINE RISING with energy, intensity, and a few breathtaking plot twists that will engage and enthrall the reader.
~Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader
Before I start the actual review, I highly suggest you read the first book before you start book 2 as there is so much history that should be absorbed first. I found it very valuable. Plus you get more familiar with the characters.
Now on to this review....
This is more than a story of fate and fantasy. It is about deep emotions and how we deal with them. I have to admit that when I first started reading this epic story I was just enjoying the story itself. Toward the end of book two, I began to feel something deeper than just enjoyment. I began to analyze what I had read on a much deeper and psychological level. Is the bad guy all that bad? Why do I feel connected to him in some level? Why are the good and bad guys not so clearly good and bad anymore? Why does this feel so real? Why do I feel like i know these characters?
The story is developed in a manner that keeps the reader engaged and holding their breath to discover what will happen next. There is a mission as every epic story needs to have. There is a antagonist and a protagonist and everyone in between. Then the lines blur in a way that signifies good writing. Most people aren't only one role or the other. Real people cross lines and have baggage of their own that changes those lines. So do these characters. Because of that, these characters are some of the most "real" I have read in a long time.
The writing is very well done in that there is not excessive amount of descriptions of the scenes or characters. There is just enough to give the reader the necessary information to get the scene right in their head. Excessive descriptions turn me off and have me quickly putting the book down. This one did not do that. I got exactly what my imagination needed to see it all in my head.
I was very upset to know book three wasn't done yet. I need it now! I hope you enjoy this story as much as I have. Great read. Check it out.
— Rebecca Graf for Reedsy Discovery.com
Trine Fallacy: The Kinderra Saga by C.K. Donnelly is a gripping epic fantasy that features an intense conﬂict. The Dark Trine is on the path to accomplishing his insidious plot to take control of Kinderra. His domination grows more substantial every day, and he has achieved many victories already. Young Trine Mirana Pinal undergoes rigorous training under Trine hero Tetric Garis. She is the only hope for her people. Can she uncover the hidden power of the watchtower of Jasal’s Keep that once saved the land? Can she master her Aspects in time to stop the extermination of her people?
Trine Fallacy is a skillfully written story that immerses the reader in a world where forces of good and evil ﬁght against each other and characters are not what they seem to be. There are unexpected moments, and readers will enjoy how the author presents the relationship between mentor and mentee and an unsuspecting twist in their journey. C.K. Donnelly writes in prose that is crisp and has a spell of its own. The prophecies compel the characters to act, driving them to seek hope in unexpected places. The characters are multilayered and well-developed, and I particularly enjoyed characters like Mirana and her beloved Teague Beltran, a healer
who is not born with magical skills but imbued with the spirit of a warrior. The characters are genuinely ﬂawed and believable, and the plot is unpredictable and gripping. Trine Fallacy transports readers into a magical world of encroaching darkness with a heroine desperate to bring light to her people.
— Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite
Donnelly’s sweeping second in The Kinderra Saga offers an engrossing mix of exhilarating hope and grim reality as Mirana embarks on a quest to save her beloved Kinderra and its people.
Mirana Pinal has been revealed as a legendary Trine, the person who possesses all three powers of a Defender, a Healer, and a Seer, from the divine Aspects Above. But great power comes with a bigger responsibility: the protection of her home of Kinderra, a land ravaged by a perpetual conflict with the Ken’nar, and its people is now Mirana’s responsibility.
Accompanied by her mentor, the legendary Tetric Garis, she journeys across the land to seek the answers to save her people, unaware of the perilous dangers ahead.
Donnelly’s gripping narrative expertly immerses readers in the various character’s inner conflict as they try to deal with the precarious situations life throws their way. She exhaustively draws Mirana and Teague’s individual journeys while building an expansive fantasy world, and in doing so, she succeeds at crafting a gripping, multifaceted plot, with intricate, authentic characters at its center struggling with their individual weights.
Along the way, the vividly written action sequences and tear-jerking moments of silence keep readers engrossed. Excellent execution of the plot, deadly betrayals, and shocking twists make the pages fly as the narrative builds to a climax which increases readers’ fervor for the next installment. This unforgettable tale of friendship, love, duty, responsibility, trust, betrayal, and insanity proves impossible to put down.
— The Prairies Review
In this YA fantasy debut, a teenage girl has powers that could save or destroy her homeland as a centurieslong war reaches its climax.
In the land of Kinderra, in the province of Kin-Deren, 15-year-old Mirana Pinal is a magical Trine. Some of her people possess a single gift, called an Aspect, in Healing, Defending, or Seeing, but Mirana has all three powers. In two years, she’ll choose an amulet to focus her Aspects and aid the war against the Ken’nar, the ancient enemy of the Fal’kin people. Her father is Kaarl Pinal, Kinderra’s greatest warrior, and her mother is Desde, the governing prime in the capital. They don’t let on that they know that Mirana is a Trine, because public knowledge of that fact would pull the girl into war early. Ain Magne, a Dark Trine who leads the Ken’nar, aims to rule all of Kinderra. A prophecy from the Book of Kinderra describes a battle between Light and Dark Trines, and that “one of the Trines would come to destroy, the other to rebuild.” When Mirana has contradictory visions of soldiers and carnage at the Two Rivers Ford, she questions whether she’s the Light or Dark Trine of the prophecy. Can guidance from Trine Lord Tetric Garis make her future clearer?
Donnelly vigorously describes [her] his characters’ emotions and also explores the pitfalls of first love in this first book in a planned series. Mirana and 16-year-old Teague Beltran are fiercely loyal to each other; the boy, however, is has no powers, which the adults say dooms their romance. The fact that Mirana was born two months prematurely and is physically small adds complexity to her story of trading childhood for war. Donnelly clearly describes each Aspect as having numerous properties, for good or ill, as Ain Magne demonstrates by stripping his soldiers’ wills, creating battle-slaves who’ll fight until thoroughly butchered. Donnelly’s scenes of gore aren’t excessive, but when they appear, they’re effective. More impressive is the well-calibrated tension in the run-up to a single battle that begins in the minds of psychic characters long before the first sword falls. The finale promises a grand, devastating sequel.
Good characterization and well-described superpowers strengthen this series opener. (maps, glossary)
Plot: Donnelly's YA novel is set in a strikingly well-conceived fantasy world. Gifted — or cursed — with a trifecta of powers, Mirana Pinal is one of a select few tasked with an enormous moral responsibility. Readers will become fully immersed in Mirana's narrative as she struggles to come to terms with her potential for restoration or destruction.
Prose: Donnelly excels at crafting a seamless narrative that conveys the unique parameters of the universe at-hand through dialogue, character introspection, and balanced exposition. Descriptions are lyrical, vivid, and nicely polished.
Originality: Stories of exceptional teens are frequent, but Donnelly's convincing worldbuilding elevates the somewhat conventional underpinnings of the premise.
Character/Execution: Mirana's behavior, thought processes, and motivations are clear and authentic. Villainous characters and allies are portrayed with nuance and dimension, while the world of Kinderra emerges as an engrossing character in its own right.
Credit: The BookLife Prize
A truly immersive fantasy! It’s not my go-to genre, but I have the wonderful opportunity to do a Q&A with the author for her book launch next week, so I devoured it over the past week. The world-building (even language creating!) is so thorough and impressive, and I loved the nuances of each character, especially (and surprisingly!) the villain. As I was reading it, it felt so cinematic to me. This could easily be a movie series as well as a book trilogy.
— Leah LeMoine, Managing Editor, PHOENIX MAGAZINE
Wow, TRINE RISING was full of twists and turns that I was not expecting. Mirana is a very unique character. While you think she is your archetypal young adult fiction heroine, she is just the opposite. She is not someone who thinks she isn’t special. She knows she is special and knows for a fact that she can be dangerous to people. The best thing she thought she could do for her people was to suppress her powers and never allow them to surface. She is a smart girl, so she knows how to play things to her advantage.
Author C.K. Donnelly did a great job of building Mirana’s development. Mirana is no wallflower, but she grows and learns to be more comfortable in her skin as the story progresses. The mystery behind the Dark Trine and the Ken’nar attack was introduced strategically to have maximum impact on readers. I could tell that the author planned out this whole story to make it believable, entertaining, and nail-bitingly good.
— Rabia Tanveer for Readers' Favorite
The first installment of Donnelly’s coming-of-age fantasy series that blends introspective self-discovery with high-stakes adventure. In the land of Kinderra, people are born either Aspected—having the power of clairvoyance, healing, or defending, or Unaspected. Young Mirana Pinal is born with all three powers, making her a Trine. After seeing a disturbing vision wherein she destroys Kinderra, Mirana confides her secret only to her boyfriend, the Unaspected Teague Beltran. She soon learns that she is part of prophecy foretelling the destruction of her homeland at the hands of a new Trine. The other Trines are the peaceable sage Tetric Garis and the Ain Magne, a warmonger bent on subjugating the citizens of Kinderra. When the threat of an attack from the Dark Trine forces Mirana to reveal her visions, Tetric Garis takes her under his wing to train her. Can Mirana thwart her own destiny and save the kingdom from herself?
Donnelly has set her story in a classic medieval Europe-flavored fantasy world, complete with armies on horses, ancient prophecies, and an extensive dramatis personae. Although the author makes some moves to differentiate her work from other stories in the genre—for instance, by substituting common English terms with Kinderrian ones—some readers may find the net result is more distracting than illustrative.
But Mirana is a sympathetic heroine, her struggle to find her place in the world will be relatable to young readers, and her romance with Teague captures the tensions and thrills of teenage love. Polished prose, strong characterization, and the author’s keen eye for atmospheric detail keep this coming-of-age story engrossing.
Takeaway: Young adult readers will be swept up in a gripping fantasy adventure with a main character they can root for.
Great for fans of: Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen series and Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: C
C.K. Donnelly’s TRINE RISING is the first book in a promised series, and does a fine job of introducing readers to its world and characters without too much tedious explication. We are given the information we need naturally, as characters interact and speak and, most of all, worry, but it feels as natural and comprehensible as the Kinderran words sprinkled through the dialogue, most of which can be understood by connotation and cognates without reference to the handy glossary in the back. It’s an interesting world, too, with its own defined culture, religion, and norms, well thought-out and well-described, and worth exploring.
Mirana is a standard archetype, the teenage Chosen One, but her character is approached in a different way – instead of a heroic destiny, the signs in her own visions and in the prophecy point to the possibility that she just might become the villain, making her fears plausible despite her obvious good heart. And the character who is set up as the villain has a clear and in some ways persuasive argument for being the hero of his own story, whose only goal is to bring peace and comfort and spare innocent human lives the horror of war. It’s a nice touch, and it makes the story more complex and interesting. Mirana’s Unaspected sweetheart, Teague, is a good match for her, warm and caring, and her parents, the province’s Prime Desde and Kaarl, the leader of its Defenders, are truly loving and supportive and cherish each other, their daughter, and their duty to their province over all – which makes certain revelations and plot twists in the book even more heartrendingly powerful.
And the Trine Tetric Garis, who takes over Mirana’s training, is clearly a deeper and more complicated personality than he reveals on the surface – it’ll be interesting to watch his character develop as the series continues. The plot takes a bit of time to get started, and quite a lot of quiet angst on Mirana’s part, but once it does, the action is swift and fierce, and the characters and readers are both mercilessly swept up in it.
There is enough resolution at the end to leave the reader feeling as if something has been accomplished, but enough left hanging to make you eager for the sequel. All in all, this is an excellent start to a series, and promises well for the rest of it.
TRINE RISING is an intense and emotionally-engaging beginning to a promising new fantasy series, set in a well-crafted new world with believable and thoroughly human characters.
— Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader
This first installment in the Kinderra Saga brings with it all of the essentials for an engaging read. With well-established characters, and artful plot development and pacing, Donnelly will have you hooked, and needing the sequel. Lately, I’ve been craving a new fantasy world to escape to, and Trine Rising provided exactly what I needed. With unique worldbuilding, a well-paced plot, an phenomenal character and conflict development, this read truly exceeded my expectations and left me wanting more.
This book discusses themes of power, morality, and prophecy through the protagonist, Mirana Pinal. As Mirana approaches her sixteenth summer, she is faced with destructive secrets. In a world where people are gifted with powers of sight, strength, and healing by the Aspects, Mirana finds she is one of the few who possesses powers from all three. She is a Trine. However, there is a prophecy suggesting that one Trine who is destined to save Kinderra, one is meant to be its destruction. With three known Trines, where lies Mirana’s fate. When Mirana receives terrifying visions predicting a devastating battle to come, she must reveal her secrets in order to give her people, especially the man she loves, a fighting chance. Will she be Kinderra’s saving grace? Or will she be responsible for its demise? Donnelly invites you to discover the answers for yourself.
From a structural standpoint, this novel perfectly achieves its purpose. Within the introductory chapters of the novel, readers are presented with many layers of conflict. We learn of Mirana’s Trine identity, and begin questioning whether or not she is gifted with a blessing or a curse. We learn that her love interest, a healer named Teague, is unaspected, and their relationship is doomed. If that wasn’t enough to peak a reader’s interest, we also learn there is a malicious Trine among the enemy Ken’nar forces. As a result, readers are forced early on to draw three very important conclusions: We’re faced with an epic battle of good and evil, Mirana’s relationship and future are on the line, and a bloody battle is on the horizon. Pair those things with an effective use of foreshadowing in visions and the prophecy, and you have readers turning pages needing answers.
Likewise, Donnelly provides readers with a well-developed fantasy world in Kinderra. I felt the balance of exposition, character development, and conflict fit what was needed for a first installment in the series. The world maps were helpful in creating a frame of reference, and providing context for readers as it became necessary was an effective way of developing this story. It's easy for authors to give too much exposition in books, and it results in a slow start for readers. This book does a great job avoiding that tendency. By introducing readers to the characters and the conflict first, this book hooked the audience, and then allowing them to fall in love with the nuances of the world the characters live in. As the plot progresses in the novel and the conflict builds, I found myself entirely invested in the fate of the characters.
This novel isn’t a "resolve all" kind of read, and as much as I need the answers, I love books that make me wait for them. As the novel peaks, Mirana is forced to face her true identity, but readers are left with more questions to be answered, another battle lurking on the horizon, and more secrets to discover. With Mirana’s Trine ancestor, Jasal Pinal playing a larger role than previously anticipated, readers learn that this journey is only getting started for Mirana, Teague, and the characters in the story. Where will this journey lead? We’ll have to find out in the next installment: Trine Fallacy.
Overall, Trine Rising was a phenomenal first installment in a new fantasy series. With engaging characters, a riveting plot, and well-executed structure, C.K. Donnelly provides a refreshing and engaging read for fantasy lovers.
— Kayla Riportella for Reedsy Discovery.com
Donnelly’s intriguing, deeply engrossing debut fantasy gets her “The Kinderra Saga” YA fantasy series off to an impressive start. Sixteen-summer-old Mirana Pinal is one of the few in Kinderra to have ever possessed all three magical powers of the Aspects, and unfortunately one of two trines at whose hands the whole of the Kinderra will be destroyed and rebuilt. An alarming premonition of an enemy attack forces Mirana to reveal her destiny to the people of Kinderra and pick between using her powers and leaving them intact. Donnelly devotes as much time to characterization as she provides to plot development, making the tale both thrilling and deep. She takes her time with Mirana’s pressing inner conflicts, providing depth and substance to the protagonist’s coming-of-age story. The chilling action sequences involving the ruthless warlord notch up the tension and suspense, and the fascinating premise and complex worldbuilding will keep readers hooked. This is a winner.
— The Prairies Review