Songs of the Earth: a book review

Songs_of_the_Earth_Tor

Gair is under a death sentence. He can hear the music of the earth – music with power – and in the Holy City that means only one thing: he’s a witch, and he’s going to be burned t the stake. Even if he could escape, the Church Knights and their witchfinder would be hot on his heels, while his burgeoning power threatens to tear him apart from within…

Songs of the Earth by Elspeth Cooper is an epic fantasy of, according to a Library Journal review, A Song of Ice and Fire proportions. It was an extensive story with a unique setting, and a very interesting and intricate magical system. It was a good read altogether, but it was one of the most confusing books I’ve read in a very long time. Let me explain why:

Pros:

The magical system was one of the neatest that I’ve read. The best is in the Legend of Eli Monpress books by Rachel Aaron, but that’s beside the point. The magic in this world is called, you guessed it, the songs of the earth. Each person who can hear the songs has certain colours, and different magical spells are associated with colours. The author didn’t delve too deep into the science of it all, but she did mention enough for the reader to get a feel for it. In the past, the church decided that magic was bad and it was made illegal, and those who had it were persecuted. Fast forward to current time, and Gair is told by a mysterious and friendly old man Alderan, that magic isn’t bad, but something to be revered and honoured.

The Hidden Kingdom, which is the magical world beyond the mortal realm. It isn’t discussed in depth, because it’s protected and something of a mystery, but what is explained is fascinating. Gatekeepers wander the countryside, ensuring the gates through the Veil, which separates the mortal realm with the Hidden Kingdom, stay shut. If they open, horrible demons and magical things can get through and wreak havoc.

The history of the church and wars of the past were interesting as well. But that also ties in with the cons –

Cons:

The author included plenty of information about the history, which was fascinating, but the way she did it was a bit rough on the reader. There were too many text walls of exposition that got a bit dry after a while. Breaking them up a bit more would have been best.

The characters: this was the main reason I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I would have liked to. The characters weren’t given enough depth, or even described at all. Things happened to them, but they didn’t necessarily react to them, or react to them appropriately. I felt nothing for any of the characters, except for maybe Alderan and that may only be because his name is suspiciously close to Alderaan. When the main love interest was introduced, I knew exactly what her character’s intent was, which is of course to be a love interest. In plenty of books you can tell right off the bat who the love interest will be – hell, in my own books you can tell without a doubt – but she wasn’t a very enticing character and their relationship progressed without much interesting plot. It was all very predictable with them. And at the end during an epic battle (which a little too much exposition, which I skimmed over) a certain character dies. I understood that the death was important to the development of Gair, the main character, but because I had no attachment to any of the characters, I simply didn’t care.

It was the strangest feeling I’ve ever had after finishing a book. I enjoyed it, but cared little for the characters. Feeling emotion for the characters and their plights is an important thing for me, because the characters make up a very important portion of the story. If I don’t care for the characters, I won’t enjoy the story nearly as much.

★★★☆☆

Altogether, I’d give Songs of the Earth three stars. It would have been more, but the lack of emotion for the characters sort of killed it for me.

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