|Caught practising using magic, Gair is condemned as a heretic
by the church and tortured to make him repent. Unexpectedly released, he is guided out of
the city by Alderan, a stranger who understands The Song, the source of Gairs magic.
They make their way south, to an island Alderan knows of that has a school for others who
can hear The Song. There is a bit of danger along the way as they are pursued by a witch
The church turns out to have a number of factions, and the political manoeuvring
among them is intense. One of them has employed the witch finder, who is curiously
determined to find and kill Gair. Along the way, Alderan and Gair meet a character who
will play a major role later. Gair learns more about The Song, and they narrowly escape
death several times.
Told from the POV of several key characters, this book starts out slow, describing
things and careful world building. A lot of information is given and it seems a bit
boring. Please persevere though, things heat up in the last third of the book, nuggets of
information make sense and you realise aha! Thats why that happened as
things fall into place. Well worth reading and you get a good idea of the various players.
Off to read the next in The Wild Hunt series!
Songs of the Earth is Elspeth Coopers first novel, and is
the opening opus in a new high fantasy trilogy The Wild Hunt.
The story concerns Gair, a disgraced novice in a religious martial order who has been
exposed as a witch and is now expecting to be burnt at the stake for his witchery. Gair is
given a reprieve of sorts, evades recapture by the knights of his former order and is
taken away to learn how to use his witchery. There are, of course, other events and
stories happening while Gair comes to terms with being a witch and learning his craft but
these are yet to intersect the main story (wait for books two and three). During the
course of the book Gair makes an enemy or two, gains and loses a lover and comes to accept
he is important in the witchery world and is left waiting for the a big confrontation or
quest to give his life meaning.
Gair is a witchery prodigy, having great natural strength and ability, and is also a
foundling so is unable to account for his preternatural abilities. To add interest the
world in which Gair lives is separated from at least two other worlds by a veil of
transubstance, with at least one wearing thin and in danger of being breached and
should that happen then the wild hunt will ride unhindered through the realm of mortals.
So much for the story, how about the delivery? For the first half of the book Ms Cooper
used an intriguing style. For every chapter that featured Gair as the protagonist she
began with very realistic nightmare dreams that disintegrated into rationality as Gair
woke. At some point she stopped doing that and for me the book was the lesser for it as
Gair ceased grappling with some intense personal demons. By loosing the dreams he became
less of a flawed character and less interesting, which more the pity made his subsequent
triumphs less heroic.
As to what happens next, whether a quest for Gair or a tear in the veil between worlds
one is left guessing. Book two will reveal more.