Songs of the Earth by Elspeth Cooper: A Book Review
Songs of the Earth (Wild Hunt Trilogy #1) by Elspeth Cooper: A Book Review
After buying so many ebooks, I’ve finally started going back to the library for something to do in a new town. It’s amazing how much I had missed walking in and browsing physical books. Songs of the Earth was one of the first I picked up to read. It is a debut fantasy novel by Elspeth Cooper, and while not the best, it is entertaining and the series has some promise.
I enjoyed the story overall, but it contains many typical elements of a fantasy story, which may be overdone and boring to some. I know I found it that way at times. There is a young man with extraordinary powers who is freed from prison after being accused as a witch by the Church (which greatly resembles the Catholic Church). This youth, Gair, is saved by a Guardian and taken to a school to help develop his powers. Sound familiar yet? There are elves, humans, and various other races also.
The end of the novel was great—there is a battle, plenty of action, a victory of sorts, and then loss and grief. The lead-up to the end is a little lacking, but I will explain that in the section below.
Gair’s relationships are one thing that helps make the book interesting. Ms. Cooper could go more in depth with them and explore them even more, but even so, his relationship with Alderan, Aysha, Darin, and others brings out his character and really helps define him as a person. How those relationships develop and progress through the first book really leads into the second book, Trinity Rising, and the somewhat changed Gair we see there.
The book is rather slow, and you never really know where things are going. There are a few different viewpoints, but Gair’s story is followed the most. Unfortunately I think the other characters get lost in the story after they don’t turn up for a long while. There is one character that has quite a few viewpoints early in the story and then not so many later—and I don’t even really know who he is, what part he plays overall in the book, and it kind of felt like Ms. Cooper just added him in as filler and to broadly hint at past events that may have impact on the future. There are many bits and pieces of the history and story of the world we are exploring in the book, but almost too much hinting and not enough explanation to make the story fulfilling and understandable. I’m half-way through the second book in the series and with adding new characters and going back in time to tell the viewpoints of characters we already know, I have a better feel for the story, but at the same time the jumping around and lack of continuity is difficult and confusing.
Fantasy novels need to have good worldbuilding. I still don’t know what kind of a world this series is set in. It is definitely a middle-ages type time period, but besides a general cold to warm (north to south, I’m assuming) description of the different countries, Ms. Cooper hasn’t shown us what the world looks like. It took a long while to even realize there are races other than humans. Then the magic system is all over the place and doesn’t seem to have defined boundaries. There is a veil that seemingly holds back something—the underworld? Hell?—and it seems to be failing. The failing veil is the only overarching plot point that I’ve really noticed, and I know almost nothing about it. There are also interesting aspects of the magic, but it is never really explained.
If you don’t mind a story with the typical fantasy elements, Songs of the Earth is a good story and has a compelling main character in Gair. As a hint, the second book in the series, Trinity Rising, has a newly introduced main character that I really enjoy as well. Overall I’m enjoying the second book more so far, though some of the same problems are still occurring.
If you are looking for a new fantasy series to read, especially maybe a debut novel, there are better ones out there than this one. With all the stereotypical story elements you can easily find more unique stories out there, and with better worldbuilding.
Written by Heidi V
Heidi is a co-creator and writer at Definitely Not for the Birds (DNFB). She is an avid reader, a diehard Badger fan, and knows from experience that a good hike can solve almost any ailment. Follow Heidi @heidi_5 and DNFB @not4birds.