Ｔｉｔｌｅ：The Waking Land
Ｓｅｒｉｅｓ： Book 1
Ｒａｔｉｎｇ： ★ ★ ★ ✩ ✩
＊Ｎｏｔｅ：I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Lady Elanna Valtai 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.
✩ Jahan was an okay character. He seemed kinda funny and charming. I didn’t know quite what to make of him at first since he wasn’t around much in the first half of the book.
✩ I liked Rhia for her strong convictions. She wasn’t easily bullied into changing her mind about things and she was really passionate in her own way about the rebellion. She wasn’t just willing to believe in Elanna but wanted to push her into being better.
✩ Victoire was a strong character in this book. She was brave enough to stand up for what was right even if it meant putting her father in a bad light.
✩ I had some issues with the main character, Elanna. I just… I don’t know. I couldn’t really like her for several reasons.
“What? Still no gratitude for saving your life?”
“You haven’t saved my life. You prevented me going to prison.”
✩ Some of the descriptions in the book were nice. I could appreciate all the nature woven into it, but maybe it was just a tad too much.
I tasted the soil and plants growing in it. I was alive and the earth was alive, and my body and the earth were one living thing.
✩ Here’s a good example of a reason I didn’t like Elanna.
I wave Hugh away. “No, thank you. I don’t indulge in such barbaric customs.”
✩ I sometimes forgot that the whole book was moving toward a rebellion. The pacing was kind of slow.
I want to feel it in my bones. In my heart. Yet if I do, it means I choose Caeris; I choose my father and his revolution. And I can’t be a figurehead for the father who forfeited me like a pawn in his play for a Caerisian King.
✩ I did like the exchanges Jahan and El/Elanna had though. Although I’m not sure about the romance.
“So, steward of the land. I suppose you won’t even speak to me, now that you’ve been named to such a lofty position! Will I have to beg?”
“Only if you say things like that.” I’m laughing.
✩ Haha, well this one had to be one of the funniest scenes. It was one of the few moments I liked Finn.
“Beautiful,” Finn says, more to my breasts than to my face. He’s switched to wine. It’s certainly nto helping to sober him up.
“Finn.” I point at my eyes. “Look here when you’re speaking to me.”
The land might have been waking in this book, but I was not.
I was kind of disappointed with this book. Which is unfortunate because I really, really wanted to love this book. The cover was gorgeous and the premise sounded really interesting, but in the end, the execution fell short.
My main issue with this book was Elanna aka El, the protagonist of the story. While I love having strong main characters in books, it’s not necessarily bad when a female character isn’t amazing all the time. Characters can have flaws, of course. However, what really bothered me was El’s personality and how quickly it flipped when she became the “steward of the land”.
Initially, El was kind of likable in that she was stuck in another land, raised by a man who wasn’t her father, and disliked by so many of the people in the castle. I felt a little bad for her situation and I wanted her to rise up from it at the end of the book to show them how she wasn’t all the things they said she was.
It was when she met up with her father’s comrades/the rebellion that I started to get really irritated with Elanna. She was constantly complaining about her life in a way that bordered on whining. She was constantly crying or feeling sorry for herself.
Not only that but even after she was treated so poorly by others for being Caerisian, she went on to look down on her companions just because of where they came from. She acted like she was better than them like they were ignorant and backward. It irritated me so much because you would think that she would know more than anyone else how terrible it felt to be treated that way, to be in that position, and she still did it anyways. Sure, part of it was that was raised to believe so many lies by the king, but for someone who claimed to be so smart she was quick to believe just about anything.
The only change I saw in Elanna was that once she had her parents attention–when she could see how “proud” they were–she started to change her mind about things. It wasn’t her as a character making a choice to stand up for what was right, but about getting approval from others. She kept repeating how she was the “steward of the land” and acting with authority without really understanding everything that came with that title. I felt like Elanna shouldn’t have been the face of the rebellion.
Finn was also a really pathetic character. He was cowardly and complained about his situation often enough that it made me roll my eyes. I could understand him not wanting the responsibility put on him, but he couldn’t even try to fake being a leader when people needed him the most just for morale.
Aside from Elanna and Finn, the rest of the characters didn’t necessarily feel especially memorable. I can’t remember the name for most of the people that Elanna traveled with. I think the only exceptions to this might be Victoire and Rhia–both of whom had a more (consistent) character, in my opinion, than Elanna.
Now, some of the descriptions in the book were nice. The writing wasn’t too terrible for most of the time, but it was repetitive. I can’t even guess the number of times that we were reminded that Elanna was the steward of the land and that the land was alive or waking. We get it.
As for the pacing, the book felt slow. It was hard to remember that the story was moving toward a rebellion because it just didn’t feel like it was moving in that direction. Plus, the ending just felt… cheap. Hardly anyone died. I know, that sounds like a weird thing to complain about, but really… if you’re having a rebellion someone has to die right? And I’m talking about characters that mattered, even a little.
The only people who really died were faceless, nameless characters. Hardly anyone that actually mattered to Elanna was lost in this book. It was like no one wanted anything bad to happen to Elanna besides being forced to grow up in another kingdom. And that hardly even counts because her situation wasn’t that bad, even with people making fun of her for being Caerisian. The king cared for her more than he did his own daughter. Elanna wasn’t treated like a prisoner, and she made it clear more than once that she preferred living there, so I can’t feel too bad for her.
In the end, it felt like this was the story of a
whiny girl who got returned to her homeland, got some cool powers, realized said powers were cool and people liked her for them, and then proceeded to act like her powers suddenly made her a better person. Honestly, the book was just kinda boring. If you like strong female characters or even just good character development, this would probably not be the book for you.