THE WAKING LAND
GENRES/ SUBJECTS: YA, FANTASY
It’s been fourteen years, since King Antoine took Elanna hostage. Fourteen years since her father’s rebellion failed. Fourteen years spent being raised by the man who condemned her people to misery. A man she’s come to love as a father.
Now 20, Elanna is about to be taken prisoner once again… but this time by her father’s mysterious righthand man.
Her father wants to reignite his rebellion, this time using Elanna as figurehead. He will tell his followers she is the legendary Wildegarde reborn, a sorceress who could make the very earth tremble.
But what no one knows is that magic really does flow through Elanna’s veins. Now she must decide which side she’s on, and whether she’ll use her powers for mercy… or revenge.
A bold and gorgeous fantasy featuring a brilliant heroine on the cusp of womanhood, The Waking Land is the first of a trilogy that will delight fans of The Red Queen, Six of Crows, and Court of Thorns and Roses.
Ugh. The Waking Land. Why are you making this so difficult for me? 2* feels harsh but… bang on 2.5 average seems too high? I really, really wanted to love this book. Between the (not one but two) stunning covers and the bad ass sounding blurb, I was so psyched for it, and while there isn’t any one fatal flaw, it was a major let down.
The biggest issue is, in my opinion, the pacing and world-building. The pacing was just really slow going, making reading feel like a slog. What’s worse is that it was too drawn out in all the wrong places. The characters are left flat and underdeveloped while the political conflict and magic system are covered again and again when they were explained well enough the first time. While it’s rare that I think a book has too much world-building, I think that might be the case here.
I didn’t realise until I started reading, but this is basically the Scotland/England/Jacobites/Bonnie Prince Charlie drama in a thinly disguised magical world and a YA protagonist. The Old/Young Pretenders, the Celtic culture, the foreign empire, etc. This might not happen to everyone but I’m Scottish, I live here, and I studied this time period for part of my degree, so I felt that really obvious things were restated over and over when there was no need. Obviously, not everyone will feel this way, but I felt this slowed down the pacing when we didn’t really need it to move on with the story.
I did really like the way Elanna was constantly struggling between loyalty to the man who kidnapped/ raised her and the culture she’d grew up with versus the beliefs of her own family and the conflict as they saw it. It’s a really good example of a character with Stockholm Syndrome, who is at times unlikeable but not a bad person and makes plenty of mistakes. In short, Elanna is the kind of female protagonist a lot of us are really looking for in YA and fiction in general, so it’s a shame that the story doesn’t quite live up to the character. In my opinion, if you want this sort of political situation (with a slightly better-developed romance), despite its (many) faults, you’d be better off watching Outlander.