Thursday, February 23, 2012

Songs of the Earth-Elspeth Cooper

Songs of the Earth

Elspeth Cooper

Tor, Feb 28 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9780765331656

Gair has been a dedicated holy knight who has devoted his life to the revelatory service of the Lady and the Church. However, his loyalty proves insufficient as he breaks the prime law of the Holy City when he hears the music of magic. Declared rightfully as a witch he expects to burn at the stake. Tormented by his taint though keeping his head up and looking at his accusers, Gair knows even if he wanted to escape, which he does not as he must die, the Church Knights led by the Witchfinder would hunt him down like an animal.

However, he is taken aback when Preceptor Ansel changes his death sentence to permanent exile from the parish. Leaving the Holy City to starve to death, a mysterious stranger Alderan of the Guardians of the Veil, who watched the court proceedings, escorts the shocked young man away. However, a dying Goran sends his Knights and a Witchfinder after them, but they escape as they begin their journey to a place where the lad can learn to control his magical skills as he learns that the Guardians of the Veil patrol the barrier that separates this realm from a hell; while being mentored by Aysha the shapeshifter.

This is an entertaining fantasy with several subplots, but mostly the trek, the school (especially the older woman younger man romance) and the search for answers by Ansel and Goran. The fast-paced but somewhat straightforward storyline will remind fans of E. Rose Sabin's "School For Sorcery" saga though the protagonist of Songs of the Earth is older. Readers will enjoy the opening Cooper mythos as a breach in the gate of hell gives a trainee a baptism of fire.

Harriet Klausner

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