Reign the Earth (The Elementae, #1)by Published 30 Jan 2018
|Reign the Earth (The Elementae, #1).pdf|
Shalia is a proud daughter of the desert, but after years of devastating war with the adjoining kingdom, her people are desperate for peace. Willing to trade her freedom to ensure the safety of her family, Shalia becomes Queen of the Bonelands.
But she soon learns that her husband, Calix, is motivated only by his desire to exterminate the Elementae—mystical people who can control earth, wind, air, and fire. Even more unsettling are Shalia’s feelings for her husband’s brother, which unleash a power over the earth she never knew she possessed—a power that could get her killed. As rumors of a rebellion against Calix spread, Shalia must choose between the last chance for peace and her own future as an Elementae.
This intense, richly drawn high-fantasy by the author of Scarlet will hold readers spellbound.
"Reign the Earth (The Elementae, #1)" Reviews
This book was emotionally exhausting. I'm not quite sure where to leave the rating, so I'll say 3.5?
Despite what the cover implies, this book is not a light-hearted fantasy in the least. Prepare yourself for extremely heavy topics such as physical and emotional abuse, including unconsented physical relations in an arranged marriage and pregnancy [spoilers removed] Now, I'm not saying the author didn't handle them well, but they are definitely a prominent part of the book as a whole. It isn't a scene you can skip, it buries itself deep into the theme.
Because of this, it was a VERY difficult book for me to finish, let alone review.
Shalia is a strong heroine who agrees to an arranged marriage to bring about peace. However, her husband is extremely cruel and itches for war. Shalia tries to change his heart and weave peace into his rule, but almost everything backfires. It doesn't help that Shalia's brothers are involved in the resistance, and if her husband finds out, she will pay the price (and oh, she does.)
The writing was lovely and there were some truly outstanding characters including Shalia's brother Kairos. In fact, I really admire her whole family though they were quite sparse.
I really can't say it enough though - this is not a happy book. I had to walk away from reading it a few times just for a breath of fresh air. Just be prepared if you decide to read it. The author does NOT glorify any of the abuse, but it is still difficult to read. Also, I want to note that the romance does not involve the abuser.
I guess I don't really know what else to say. This is different than your average fantasy for sure and involves lots of political strategizing/etc. The plotline is unique. I can't speak to the representation but I liked the richness of the tribes, though most of the book isn't actually spent amongst Shalia's family in the desert, despite what the cover suggests.
Lastly, I would like to point out that I read the authors note and I recommend everyone else do the same. I relate so much - the author has been fighting a very rough battle, one that I completely relate to. I have a different illness, but props to her for writing a book of this caliber while dealing with all that. I'm in the same boat, I'm writing a book despite there being days I can't even hash out a sentence, let alone look at a screen. I have a ton of respect for her and I'm so glad she shared her story in the back.
My Blog ~ Instagram ~ Twitter ~ Etsy
Disclaimer: I did skim several parts of this book because it became way too heavy, dark, and depressing. Sometimes I leave ratings off if I feel like I might have missed something crucial during the skimming, but I'm pretty confident in my rating here.
I've been dismissed before as "weak" or "sheltered" for not wanting to endure endless pain and suffering in stories. But that's my honest opinion aaaaand I read for fun/to escape. I'm not here to test my endurance level for the miserable aspects of reality even further.
And obviously I can handle some heavy stuff in stories because of course there needs to be conflict, threats, something to overcome, etc. BUT I also need... a break from that too? Some hope to get behind? Topics like questionable rape, abuse (both physical & emotional), torture, the trauma of a miscarriage, and a general lack of power were such a central part of this story that it's not something you can just read around. But at least the author wasn't supporting any of that... like Shalia doesn't excuse her cruel husband's actions and fall in love with him (thank goodness). But it was still hard to sit through for so long.
And I can't really speak for the rep in this book, but the diversity was definitely great to see! I wish the story had spent more time with the tribes in the desert because the beginning was awesome.
So this was not a book I personally enjoyed, yet I can't bring myself to give it less than 3 stars because the writing is good, the worldbuilding is strong, there's a creative system of elemental magic, there's a solid plot that's easy to follow, and there are some truly wonderful characters. The story just turned out to be a lot different than I was expecting... it's not the magical adventure that the cover sounded like. It's more like a lot of suffering for both the reader and characters. But I think others who are looking for more intense stories would still enjoy this!
Thank you to the publisher for sending me an ARC.
Well, that was a hell of a ride!
I did not expect to love this as much as I did. Not that this book looked bad, but I absolutely loved Gaughen's book Scarlet, and have been hankering to read Lady Thief and Lionheart, so I wasn't sure I wanted to try something new by her just yet. And yes, I admit I was a little like, yes, yes, elemental magic, sure, sure. But as I noticed in another review: when was the last time EARTH magic took center stage? Water and fire get all the love! Not only that, but I am a total sucker for desert dwelling nomad fantasy. I mean, I've only read The Blue Sword around 50 times, it's not like I was obsessed with it or anything, but still, I do love a good desert magic story. This reminded me very much of Blue Sword or, more recently, Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst. And since this book doesn't come out until the end of January, 2018, you could all read The Blue Sword and Vessel in that time! Eh, eh? Not to mention her Scarlet books!
But why, why did I love this book? Because of all the sand? Nope. Because of the characters. The characters were amazing. I loved them all, except for that one, the villain, who was TERRIFYING. I mean, seriously, like I started sweating and freaking out every time they entered a scene. The villain in this book is so incredibly, horribly, realistically dangerous I could not get over it. Like, I still feel traumatized hours later. And I loved the others so much that I was genuinely afraid for them, and rightly so. The stakes are high. No punches are pulled. This is some hardcore stuff. The writing is beautiful, but she does not shy away from real tragedy and real brutality.
This is a good book.
I absolutely adored Gaughen's Scarlet series which is why I picked this up without any hesitation at all. Add in the cover and that description and I knew I would get something different, something fun, and something well written.
And I did get those things but yet I can't help but feel somewhat..... disappointed.
Don't get me wrong, this was a good story but it some how fell lacking from the greatness that was Scarlet.
It was a bit slow and even dragged in places and the love interest and storyline were predictable at best and even, I hate to say it, a tiny bit cliched. But, there is a but here, it was still a really good and interesting (and most of the time entertaining) story and one I am glad that I took the time to read. I definitely won't be giving up on this author or any of her stories because she really does know how to create a unique twist on something that isn't unique at all and that is always worth a try.
*ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
I was lucky enough to pick up a copy of this at ALA this year and it took me until now to finally start it. The fact that I finished it in a day is a pretty good indicator of how solid of a start to a series it was. I enjoyed almost all of the main characters (and enjoyed hating the other one...) and there was some great world building and an interesting elemental-type magic scheme that seemed fresh and new.
Actually for some reason certain aspects of this book reminded me of Roar by Cora Carmack, which also had new (or new to me at least) magic concepts. So if you enjoyed that one, definitely check this out!
The only think that didn't quite convince me was the romance...can't really say more right now or else it would give things away so I'll let you guys decide. :) Definitely a new series that could be really big so come January, you better make sure you get your hands on it!
Huge thanks to Bloomsbury for the physical ARC! ♥