February 11, 2015

BOOK REVIEW | Songs of the Earth by Elspeth Cooper


Title: Songs of the Earth
Author: Elspeth Cooper
Series: The Wild Hunt #1
Genre: high fantasy, adult
Published: Gollancz, 2011

Novice knight Gair has a gift: he can hear the songs of the earth, and weave that music into magic. But in the Holy City, that makes him a witch, and that means he must be tortured until he gives up the name of his demon master - except that he has no demon lord; it's just something he can do.

I have never heard anyone talk about this book or series before. I found it at a book fair, read the blurb in the back and thought it sounded promising, something I'd enjoy. I went into this book without prejudice or without any recommendations. This way I can look at it more objectively, if that's possible. I mean that my opinion isn't already partly formed before starting this by other people. I feel like I can review this book like I should and I won't hold anything back!

In the first few chapters you get a lot of information thrown your way. Names of people, names of cities, names of mountain ranges, ... the list goes on. The story is told (especially in the beginning) in a way as if you should know all of this information (the names) already. It's confusing. It made me double-check if I was really reading the first book in the series. Also: there's no map. The author explained why on her website. If there had been a map I wouldn't have had such a hard time getting into this book, that's for sure. I'm not saying a map is mandatory in a high fantasy book, but it makes things a lot easier for the reader to understand this entire new world the author has shaped.

Other things that were unclear to me at first: the fact that there are multiple POV's. This gets better as the book continues though. But not to forget: the magic system isn't explained. It's 'shown' to you, you find out as you read and you see people use it but you have to figure it out yourself it seems.

Songs of the Earth is fast-paced and it's basically your standard high fantasy novel. All the elements are there: alternate world, different religion, different lifestyle, magic, mythological creatures, etc.
Anyway the story itself got interesting when the MC, Gair, arrived at ... wait for it ... a school for magical people! I don't think that's a spoiler as that's where 3/4 of the story takes place. I prefer a little more action in a high fantasy book than I got, but maybe there's more in the sequels, who knows.

To conclude this review: I have read much better fantasy in the short time I've been reading the genre BUT Songs of the Earth isn't bad either. I could go on for a little longer about the things I didn't like but then I would make this sound like a terrible book and it isn't. It just wasn't as good as I had hoped. Would I recommend this book to anyone? Most likely not because I didn't get the wow-factor I got out of many other books in this genre.

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