Title: The Waking Land
Author: Callie Bates
Genre: Fantasy, Coming of Age
Story Setting: Laon, Cerid Aven
Published by: Del Rey
Published Date: June 27, 2017
Sold by: Randoom House LLC
In the lush and magical tradition of Naomi Novik’s award-winning Uprooted comes this riveting debut from brilliant young writer Callie Bates—whose boundless imagination places her among the finest authors of fantasy fiction, including Sarah J. Maas and Sabaa Tahir.
Lady Elanna is fiercely devoted to the king who raised her like a daughter. But when he dies under mysterious circumstances, Elanna is accused of his murder—and must flee for her life.
Returning to the homeland of magical legends she has forsaken, Elanna is forced to reckon with her despised, estranged father, branded a traitor long ago. Feeling a strange, deep connection to the natural world, she also must face the truth about the forces she has always denied or disdained as superstition—powers that suddenly stir within her.
But an all-too-human threat is drawing near, determined to exact vengeance. Now Elanna has no choice but to lead a rebellion against the kingdom to which she once gave her allegiance. Trapped between divided loyalties, she must summon the courage to confront a destiny that could tear her apart.
My Thoughts: Wow! From the cover of the book to the last page, you’re in for a treat. While you read, you’ll realize how appropriate the cover is. It is as creative and unique as this tale of fantasy.
For a debut novel, the writer shows real talent and imagination. She weaves a land of fantasy with secret little pockets of intrigue hidden within the bigger picture. Characters are well fleshed out. The characters are complex, providing a rich selection of people with questionable motives in a tale which gets increasingly desperate. The best part is you feel for Elanna’s plight, your emotion of right and wrong will run high.
The book is written in first person, Elanna’s point of view. She is a Caerisian girl abducted from her parents, used as a political pawn. This event and the death of her abductor, King Antoine, catapults the story into a situation where Elanna, the protagonist must make decisions. Chaos and the power struggle of the Ereni embroil Elanna into unsafe territory. She is accused of killing the king, using magic and her knowledge of botany to poison him. Using magic is a crime, penalty by death. She runs, the witch hunt is on.
Elanna is strong and intelligent. She is also a foundling in magic. Fourteen years in Ereni lands has made her detest her own people, her father and mother, particularly, who didn’t come to save her. She’s been content, however, living under the wing of her abductor, King Antoine, almost like a daughter. She enjoys working with the royal botanist, Guerin Jacquard. This is her opportunity to feel the earth. Elanna has a secret gift, she dare not share with anyone. When she touches a plant, it will grow. Magic is in the lass, but not enough to save her.
Unbeknownst to Elanna, her family has been watching over her. They infiltrate the court to save her. But does she want to be saved from those she’s learned to hate? Those who fight against the new ways?
The Caerisians don’t have as much magic as they did. There are no more stewards of the land. The wardens of the mountains keep to themselves. They are safekeeping the old ways until a new steward appears. The land of magic is dying. No one can wake it.
Princess Loyce, daughter to the king is particularly vindictive to Elanna. She is a character easily disliked. One other is Denis Falconier, who plays up Princess Loyce’s hatred of Elanna. They both demean her, smearing her heritage.
Jahan Korakides,a character, is iffy. Is he a good guy or bad? Bates plays the reader’s doubts like a harpist plucking her strings. I doesn’t seem to matter to Elanna whose side he’s on. She is drawn to him.
A sigh unravels from within me. I wish I could talk to Jahan. I liked the way he listened to me, as if he really heard me—more than that, as if he understood what it’s like to hold secrets buried so deep you don’t even let yourself see them. As if he understands what it’s like to be born for a purpose you never chose.
What Elanna doesn’t realize is she is the new steward of the land. To save her people, to save her world from annihilation, she must become the steward, not just in word, but in deed. Can she live up to it? Can she harness the mystery and magic in the Circle of Stones?
Elanna’s mother is one to watch. Bates is a marvel not giving away the motives behind certain characters. They are enigma to the reader as is to Elanna.
Lord Gilbert, known as the Butcher, will scare you. What is his game? Denis Falconier, bed partner to Princess Loyce, is difficult to read. He doesn’t like Elanna and makes her life extremely uncomfortable. With the passing of the king, the walls of the court ooze with evil and fear.
Elanna must face the truth of who she is. She’d prefer to lose herself in studies in Ida. She has spent her life trying to forget her magic, her past. Now it’s time to face her past, accept the truth and play the role she is chosen to play. Only then, can her real strength unfold.
Bates absolutely captivated me with her creative, unique story in this brilliant tale of intrigue, strength, doing the right thing, finding your true self, and overcoming fear. I enjoy taking away from a story more than entertainment. She shows even though divided into nations, we are still one people, people who want peace and prosperity, living harmonious with the earth.
I recommend the read and am certainly interested in following Callie Bates, a newly published author.