Songs of the Earth, by Elspeth Cooper, is a book that makes me wish I were in 9th grade again and just getting into fantasy. There was so much good stuff to read and they were all so rich and easy to get lost in. And the genre was a nice change from the abominable reading list at school which, in memory, seemed to be populated entirely by affluent white people.
So were many of my fantasy novels. But, they did magic and fought battles.
Were I still that 14 year old, I would have been all over Songs of the Earth. Would’ve sat in the wicker chair in the corner with my Walkman reading it all afternoon on a summer day. Because at that point, Id’ really only gotten through Terry Brooks’ body of work and hadn’t even met David Eddings, Stephen Lawhead, Anne McCaffrey and the gang.
The story is pretty standard fare: a young man, Gair, discovers he has incredible power and is trained by an old man to use it against evil. Total hero’s journey stuff, the foundation for plenty of books, many of which I have no problem with. The trick is what gets built on that foundation. And Songs of the Earth is built with re-purposed materials.
Specifically, quite a bit from David Eddings’ Elenium and Tamuli trilogies, right down to Church Knights and persecuted magical folk.
There’s nothing wrong with Songs of the Earth. This is a situation where I’m the obvious problem. It’s not a bad book. It’s just not a book for an experienced reader of fantasy. More like a decent entry point for a wee newcomer.
Basically, if your kid is just getting started in fantasy and gravitates to Songs of the Earth, that’s not a terrible thing. It’s a decent choice, even if you would’ve done it differently or are dying to share The Wheel of Time with your spawn.
Review copy provided by Tor.