Songs of the Earth
by Elspeth Cooper
Cover Artist: JS Collaboration
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Tor Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765331656
Date: 28 February 2012 List Price $24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
In the depths of history, the Church's Legions fought the witches led by Gwlach. A great sacrifice allowed the closing of the Veil and protection for the world. The Veil is weakening and man is in jeopardy once more. Now the Order is weakened by corruption and complacency brought on by years of peace and safety. The machinations of one of the Church's leaders start one pious squire on the road to his destiny.
Gair is cast out of the order and branded a witch, because he can hear the song of the earth. This ability to touch the fabric of life cannot be tolerated by the church. Casting him out is not enough, one church leader wants him to burn as is commanded in the scriptures. Others see Gair as hope, and work to help him. His flight takes him hundreds of miles to a hidden academy where others that can hear the songs work and learn together.
Gair is tested and given entrance to the Chapterhouse. He finds friends and a soul mate. His powers grow, but Gair dabbles without focus. A former member of the Chapterhouse, Savin, returns to search for an object of power. He does not care about anyone, only his goals. Savin's attack will nearly destroy Gair, but Savin returns Gair's focus. A focus that Savin is likely to regret in the future.
Songs of the Earth is on the short list for the Gemmell Morningstar Award. After reading it, I can see why. I was drawn into the story immediately and hardly wanted to put it down. Most of the action follows Gair as he goes from trial for witchcraft to the aftermath of Savin's attack. It is the first book in the Wild Hunt series. The second book will be Trinity Moon.
This is not our world although some of the names are the same. The church is different and eerily similar. There are hints to the differences, but I expect to learn more as the series progresses. The most interesting side perspective is that of Ansel, the Preceptor of the Order, as he seeks to find that which was hidden by the Church in the years that followed the great war. His quest for knowledge is stymied by those that don’t want to know or admit that there is danger.
This novel compares well to Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicles. The heart and soul of each is learning, developing, and overcoming the odds that others set in the path. Gair is a protagonist to watch.