If you haven’t seen Songs of the Earth by Elspeth Cooper, but you enjoy traditional epic fantasy, with knights and swords, wild magic — and perhaps even a church that forbids the use of such magic — you should definitely go pick it up. This book is the first in her Wild Hunt series, which should tell you that there are other classic tropes at play — the spirit world (here called the Hidden Kingdom), filled with demons and fey, with nobility that hunts the magic stags, and a Veil between the worlds that can weaken or tear, with the threat of spirits pouring through from the other side. This book has plots, schemes, machinations, petty evil, deeper evils, threats of war, and personal rivalry — everything one could hope for in an engaging read.
Gair, the protagonist of the book, is the first person we meet, a man who has been able to do magic since he was a child, a man who worked to become a knight until his careless use of magic exposed him. At the beginning of the book, he is imprisoned in an iron cell, awaiting the outcome of his trial for witchcraft and praying to the Goddess to deliver him.
One of the reasons I originally picked up this book is because of the Song. Magic is perceived as music that the wielders can hear but normal people cannot. This magic is referred to as the Song. I wanted to check this out because I’m actually planning an epic fantasy that relies on music and magic being intertwined, and it’s nice to see how others have used the concept. I love the way Cooper describes the Song, especially when Gair is trying in vain to control it, as well as how he strives to hear subtler melodies within the Song to learn how to do new types of magic.
This book was originally published by Gollancz in the U.K., then by Tor in the U.S. Spelling and word usage are British English (my first clue was the spelling “judgement,” which I prefer but most American dictionaries and publishers do not), which makes perfect sense for the author. I only mention this so others will not be thrown by mention of stooks or other words with which they may not be familiar.
Very different from yesterday’s book, but just as highly recommended.
This is a post for the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. My theme is epic fantasy, and blog posts will cover authors, books, tropes, themes, or anything else I can think of to fill the alphabet. Come back regularly to see what else I’ve had to say — or check out some of the other bloggers participating.