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The Waking Land by Callie Bates

The Waking Land

by Callie Bates

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4712247,300 (4.07)1



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This book brought back some memories for me that are difficult to explain, but which tainted the whole read of the book for me. It's not the fault of the author or her writing, just a particularly bad episode in my life that I am apparently still not over. (And it relates to the name of something, not the situation or the story. Please don't ask.)

I will come back to it, someday. Until then, it looks like a great book and you should read it.
  bookczuk | Jul 16, 2017 |
The Waking Land is a debut novel by Callie Bates. It is filled with complex characters and elegant world building. Ms. Bates has given the reader beautiful descriptions of this magical world without being verbose. Not an easy thing to do.

From the beginning I was hooked when Elanna Valtai, at the age of five, is kidnapped in her own home by King Antoine. The king takes her in an attempt to squash the rebellion Elanna’s father has been planning. Her continued captivity is the King’s insurance that there will be no further uprisings. Once at the king’s court in Eren, Antoine raises Elanna, for fourteen years, alongside his own daughter and Elanna becomes fiercely loyal to him.

Elanna has a strange and strong connection to nature. As she nears the age of majority, she is planning to study botany at the university and is eager to be off before King Antoine has a chance to arrange her marriage. Just when her plans are coming together, the king dies mysteriously. It is poison and she is the main suspect.

With Princess Loyce now the queen, Elanna is left with no choice but to flea for her life. She is forced to return to her family’s home that she remembers little about. Once reunited with her family she learns the truth behind her magical gifts and discovers what she has been taught while living under King Antoine is all lies. Since she has arrived back to her home lands, the rebellion has started brewing again and Elanna will be forced to fight against those that raised her.

There are a lot of things to love about this book: the characters, the plot, the prose, etc. Yet, two things stood out for me. First, is the complexity of the world. Most things in life are not simple, especially when it involves governments; therefore, a fictional world in which a lot of different nations are striving for domination gives the story a resonance. Second, is the depth of the main character Elanna. She is the typical young adult in many ways; she liked beautiful clothes and parties. She was also conflicted about many things; such as who and what to believe. I loved being able to follow her thought processes as she strives to find herself during difficult times.

Ms. Bates has crafted a beautiful coming of age tale with The Waking Land that any fantasy lover will enjoy. I am hopeful that we will hear more about this enchanting world and I am looking forward to the next installment. My rating is 4.5 stars, here rounded up to 5 stars.

I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

You can see my reviews, and author interviews, on my blog at www.thespineview.com. ( )
  purpledog | Jul 15, 2017 |
What a gorgeous book! I'm in love! Everything about this book was engaging and unique and kept me spellbound all the way through the story.
The story is about a girl, the Lady Elanna Valtai, who has been held hostage for 12 or so years to ensure her fathers loyalty to the crown. She was taken when she was five years old and has few memories of her parents and has been raised and educated with the royal children of the family. Therefore she has an incorrect education in the real history of her parents and countries history. She has been studying botany for some time as she has a gift for growing things. Lloyce, the kings heir to the throne hates Elanna, and when the king suddenly becomes ill by a poisoned mushroom that she was studying she becomes framed for his murder. Elanna loved the king like a father and would never had anything to do with his murder.
She also know that she has a bond with the secret circles of stones found throughout the country, when she puts a drop of her blood on the stone once a year she hears and sees things that most others cannot. Once she is safely brought back to her homeland she feels an immediate bond with the land itself and finds out that her magic (that was outlawed in her previous home) makes her the Caveadear, the waker of the lands. A position that has been vacant for nearly 200 years. As she grows to learn more about her family and people she becomes torn on her family that raised her and the one she was born to lead.
I am really looking forward to the next book in the series. ( )
  Verkruissen | Jul 8, 2017 |
This fantasy has some unique aspects, mostly related to the power of the main protagonist, Elanna (“El”) Valtai. El discovers that she not only has magical abilities, but she is the designated "Caveadear" - someone who can “wake the land” after having taken certain ritualistic steps. For instance, she needs to drop her blood on the land and stones from time to time. On certain occasions, such as the Day of the Dying Year, a sort of Halloween, when the veil is thinner between this world and the world beyond, she must actually “wed” the land. Oddly, this means having sex outdoors. Okaaaaay.

El was captured from her home land of Caeris when she was five and taken to Eren, a rival kingdom. But shortly after the story begins, the king who protected her for 14 years is murdered; his evil daughter Loyce has taken his place; and El is suspected of regicide. With a little help from sympathizers from Caeris, El escapes, and begins a new life.

At first she fights her saviors; she is 19 but acts more like a typical 16-year-old protagonist: bratty, self-centered, ungrateful, and a know-it-all. Gradually, she is deprogrammed from the propaganda of the Ereni, and taught to be the Caveadear. She also jumps right into the sex in the park idea, even though she has been inexperienced up until this time.

Eventually, the forces of Caeris and Eren come to a head, and El must waken the land and save the day. This she also jumps right into, suddenly able to speak to the mobs of people and change their centuries of loyalties. She grows up fast, it appears. But not everyone survives the confrontation.

Discussion: There are some pretty sketchy plot threads in this book, as well as some likable elements.

One of the “bad guys” is actually nuanced, but the rest are quite caricatured. The whole idea of having sex on the ground to wake up the land struck me as absurd, as did El’s instant metamorphosis from bratty teen to world leader. Her love interest, Jahan, was pretty much perfect, however, and El’s female friends are much better and more admirable characters than she. But she was such a big baby for most of the book, and so improbably changed at the end, that it all seemed silly. At one point she even declares: “The land is awake. The city is mine. Lord Gilbert is mine. Caeris is mine.”

Moreover, the whole back-story about how a Caveadear comes to be didn’t hold up; according to the book, Ancient King Ossian was supposed to name the next one to hold this position, but he was dead. El just somehow came into the power after a two-hundred year hiatus with no explanation. Finally, the ending seemed overly contrived to me.

Evaluation: I thought the plot had a lot of holes, but there are many positive reviews for this book, and in any event, one must applaud the gorgeous cover. ( )
  nbmars | Jul 5, 2017 |
THE WAKING LANDS was a great fantasy novel filled with action and excitement. It begins with a five-year-old girl taken hostage by a king as a guarantee of her parents good behavior. Then fourteen years pass and Elanna has been thoroughly brainwashed into her captor's point of view and even thinks of him as a foster father which incites the jealousy and spitefulness of his daughter Loyce.

When the king is poisoned by a tainted mushroom, Elanna is the first suspect. She needs to flee to save her life but she doesn't know where to go. Some of her father's loyal people are urging her to return home to Caeris but she wants to go anywhere else. She would like to go to Ida and study botany and a representative of the emperor who is something of a double agent is willing to help with her plans.

However, she finds herself going to Caeris and learning more about the magic that she has been denying all her life since use of magic is forbidden by the emperor. Elanna changes greatly in this story as she learns that what she knew about her foster father was mostly lies and what he told her about her home and family was lies too.

There are battles, betrayals, false friends and real ones. There is an intriguing magic that Elanna must learn to use to save her country. There is a romantic triangle with Elanna torn between the prince she was betrothed to as a child and the sorcerer from the empire that she might or might not be able to trust.

Fans of epic fantasy will enjoy this richly drawn story filled with intriguing characters and great world building. ( )
  kmartin802 | Jun 19, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0425284026, Hardcover)

In the lush and magical tradition of Naomi Novik’s award-winning Uprooted comes this riveting debut from brilliant young writer Callie Bates—whose boundless imagination places her among the finest authors of fantasy fiction, including Sarah J. Maas and Sabaa Tahir.

Lady Elanna is fiercely devoted to the king who raised her like a daughter. But when he dies under mysterious circumstances, Elanna is accused of his murder—and must flee for her life.

Returning to the homeland of magical legends she has forsaken, Elanna is forced to reckon with her despised, estranged father, branded a traitor long ago. Feeling a strange, deep connection to the natural world, she also must face the truth about the forces she has always denied or disdained as superstition—powers that suddenly stir within her.

But an all-too-human threat is drawing near, determined to exact vengeance. Now Elanna has no choice but to lead a rebellion against the kingdom to which she once gave her allegiance. Trapped between divided loyalties, she must summon the courage to confront a destiny that could tear her apart.

Advance praise for The Waking Land

“Callie Bates has written an exciting and involving first book, and she is clearly a writer of real talent.”—Terry Brooks

“A heartbreaking, enchanting, edge-of-the-seat read that held me captive from start to finish!”—Tamora Pierce

The Waking Land is all about rising to challenges, and it succeeds wonderfully.”—Charlaine Harris

“A simmering tale of magic that builds to a raging inferno, and hits like a cross between Brandon Sanderson and Pierce Brown.”—Scott Sigler

(retrieved from Amazon Tue, 31 Jan 2017 09:31:06 -0500)

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