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on 6 August 2012
Elspeth Cooper's debut novel Songs of the Earth, grabbed the top spot on my Books of 2011 list. The book had many very familiar tropes and hearkened back to the old-school fantasies of my youth. Reading it gave me warm and fuzzy feelings and just made me plain happy, so I forgave the flaws I did notice. Its basic elements may not have been cutting edge, Cooper wielded them with skill and managed to give them enough of a twist so that I really enjoyed the book. Needless to say, I've been excited for Trinity Rising since reading Songs of the Earth in December and last week my patience was rewarded and I got to return to Gair's world. To do so was a pleasure and it was over all too soon.

Trinity Rising starts by taking us a step back in time, focusing on Savin, Songs of the Earth's villain, and Teia, a Nimrothi clanswoman in separate storylines. Savin's storyline serves both as a further reveal of his motivations and as a temporal anchor for Teia's story; as we recognise events from the previous book in Savin's scenes, we know how far Teia's story has caught up to Gair's. Teia's story is arguably the main storyline in Trinity Rising; in fact, Gair doesn't even make an appearance in book until the middle third of the book. While I really enjoyed Teia's story and her character, the start of her narrative made me wince as it involves her being steered into an abusive relationship. Luckily, Cooper doesn't utilise this relationship to give Teia agency, instead this is done through Teia's visions of an appalling future for her people. Instead, the relationship functions as both a way to have her in close contact to her clan's Speaker, the one that she's foreseen causing her people's destruction and as a way to stress Teia's sense of honour and duty. It is only Teia's sense of honour and duty to her family that keeps her with Drwyn, the same sense of honour and duty that ultimately drives her to leave the clan to warn the Empire of the dangers loosened by the Speaker, Ytha. I loved Teia's development. She's always got spark, but during the novel she first stands up to the abusive Drwyn, commanding his respect, and later she stands up to the conniving Ytha, first in private, but finally in front of the whole clan. She grows up and becomes a remarkable woman, who's brave and strong and has the courage to do what is right, even if she's scared to death and feels out of her depth.

Teia isn't the only strong woman in Trinity Rising. Tanith makes a return and Ytha - no matter what you may think of her - is a strong woman as well. All three though are strong in different ways. Tanith defies propriety and the White Court to do what she thinks is right and to be allowed to make her own choices. I loved the way that she struggles with the remnants of her attraction to Ailric. Even if he still has a big physical draw on her, she knows she doesn't love him and I love that she doesn't give in to what is convenient and safe, but chooses to follow her heart and her conscience. Ytha is unpleasant, uncompromisingly ambitious, and conniving and doesn't scruple to abuse her position to manipulate people to do what she wants. But however unpalatable you find Ytha, there is no denying she's a character to be reckoned with, a kingmaker and a powerful woman in her own right.

While the book is filled with strong female characters, the men were a little disappointing. Ailric, Savin are both unpleasant and while Savin's arc had a function, Ailric just seemed to be there as a foil for Tanith and to be an obstacle for her. His failure to take her no for an answer irritated me and when he showed up again in the final chapters in the book, I wanted to slam him in the head and just dump him in the woods, so that Tanith could go do what she needed to do. Maybe he'll have more of a role in the next book, but in this book he felt a little superfluous to Tanith's story. And my lovely Gair, who I loved so much in Songs of the Earth? Gair is broken-hearted and while I understand grief affects people differently, his almost sulking obsession with getting revenge on Savin was aggravating. As long as Gair just got on with it, he was okay, but every time he started dwelling on Aysha I just wanted to shake him and tell him Aysha wouldn't want him to act like this. This was probably what Cooper was going for however, so hats off to her.

Through the different narratives, mainly those of Teia, Gair and Tanith, though we also get points of views from Savin, Duncan, Ansel and some other smaller characters, we see more of the world, especially of the Northern reaches and the southern desert and their peoples, but also glimpses of Astolar and the wildwood of Bregorin. I really loved the time spent in the desert lands and with Tanith in the mystical realms of Astolar and Bregorin, though I've the feeling that when we learn more about both of the latter societies, they wouldn't be very mystical, judging from Tanith's brief appearance at a Court council meeting. Those stodgy politicians didn't differ that much from the tradition-bound Fathers of the Eadoran Church! Speaking of said Church, the storyline set in the Church was one of my favourite things about the last book and in this book Cooper develops it in a direction I haven't seen in fantasy before. I'm looking forward to see how it takes shape in later the books and what the consequences will be.

Cooper creates some awesome moments in Trinity Rising. There is one great, big jaw-dropping moment, which I can't discuss further, since it is too good to spoil for anyone, but wow, it surprised me so much that I had to take to Twitter and share my amazement. Where in the Songs of the Earth I complained about certain things being telegraphed too much, here Cooper succeeded in surprising me, but when I went back, the clues were all there in the text. In addition to these great plot twists and scenes, she writes in a lovely style with, at times, an almost poetic choice of words. Once again Cooper has succeeded in writing a book that had me connect with its characters so strongly that I would actually get mad at them and talk to my book or be so worried for them I was afraid to go on, lest they really would be grievously harmed.

Did Trinity Rising do the same thing Songs of the Earth did for me? No, not totally. Where Songs of the Earth was an unalloyed pleasure for me because of the warm fuzzy feelings it gave me, Trinity Rising had some elements that irked me, such as Gair's broody, angry behaviour, Ailric, and the opening gambit of Teia's story. But it is definitely a strong second novel - stronger than its predecessor in the writing and plot - and when I finished it earlier today, I was already wishing that I could read the next one. Because, be warned, Trinity Rising ends on something of a cliff hanger; this book won't stand alone. Still, I'll be waiting with as much anticipation for the next book in the series as I did for this one. This, and the fact that Cooper has got me invested in her work to such an extent should, be enough of a recommendation to give The Wild Hunt series a chance. Trinity Rising was published by Gollancz on July 31st and should be available from all the usual venues.

This copy was provided for review by the author.
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on 23 September 2012
Although I quite enjoyed the first book, this one is nowhere near as good.

The good majority of the book features a consistent theme of horrific (and graphic) sexual abuse throughout, taking the story to dark places people don't particularly look for when they pick up a fantasy adventure novel and serves as nothing more than an unwelcome distraction from the actual plot.

Aside from this, the few chapters featuring characters that aren't either vulnerable, under-age abuse victims, or violent sexual predators are well-written and on occasion, (towards the end) quite entertaining. Saying that, the book lacks climax and the plot doesn't develop much more than it did at the end of the first novel, so if you've just finished reading that one and feel you need to know what happens next, you're likely to be disappointed.
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on 6 June 2016
This is a solid continuation from Songs of the Earth. You can feel and almost taste Gair's pain after Chapterhouse. He gets more frustrated at Alderhan' s order to accompany him in his quest for the 'Starseed'. To be honest, one of the major news characters - Teia - feels completely wrong within the stories timeline.

The Ravens Shadow is far better, thankfully, but this book has it's moments and it does set the stall for Books 3 & 4.
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on 6 February 2013
I enjoyed the story but the proof readers should be taken out and shot. The punctuation and poor spelling is awful and spoils the book.
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on 15 August 2012
A little over a year ago, Elspeth Cooper's Songs of the Earth completely blew me away with its elegant simplicity and neoclassical approach to a very familiar fantasy story; that of a young man with abilities beyond his control, and a story woven around him that will change his life and shape the world, which hangs in the balance.

I'm a big fan of neoclassical. I love it, in fact, and whenever I get the chance to, I talk to writers about it. I did with Cooper and after the interview with her and following the monumental success of Songs of the Earth I had high hopes for Trinity Rising (formerly Trinity Moon).

The best thing about Cooper is that she can write. Maybe it sounds like a bit of a given point with a traditionally published and successful writer, but is it? There are countless writers who are storytellers, yes, but writers; true artists with words? Poets? There are fewer than you think, and to come across one who can weave a tale with one hand, whilst toting an elegant, beautiful prose style in the other is a pretty rare find. Cooper's prose is beautiful. She's a poet of a writer; in a few sentences she's got you by the imagination, by the heart, and she's taking you for a ride through her colourfully populated, eloquently written world.

Naturally, it's not just the prose that's important, but it's rare that the nuts and bolts of a story are good enough alone to really blow some trumpets about.

Trinity Rising does not suffer from "second book syndrome"; it does, however, offer something a little different. Instead of ploughing forwards towards the third book, which would speed inevitably towards the grand ending of book four (yes, The Wild Hunt is now a quartet!), it offers a story that doesn't concern itself with staging or placement, and merely rolls up its sleeves and gets on with business. There is a sense of a beginning, and of an end, but rather there's the notion of life and story progressing as though we've simply happened upon it mid-flow.

It's refreshing to see a writer just tell the story and to hell with the usual fuss over structure: it's better for the freedom and makes for a surprisingly exciting and tense book.

We're introduced to a few new faces in Trinity Rising, and reunited with Gair and a handful of other recurring characters from the first book. There are a lot of POVs in this book; I did a quick hand count, taking into account the handful of times where sub-characters take the lead for a half-chapter or so, and I needed both hands. There are more than I'm used to, and I thought it would jar at first with the minimalistic approach to POV from the first book. It didn't, however; it added to the story, feeling as though you were quite literally watching the events of the story unfold from every angle possible. Cooper handles the vast cast seamlessly well.

The story moves towards the rising of the trinity moons; an alignment that usually brings ill portends. Teia is a young girl formerly attached to the late chief of a clan from the plains and mountains outside the Empire's reach. She is gifted with the Song, although she had sought to keep her power hidden from the clan's powerful, ruthless Speaker, Ytha. Required in the bed of the new chief and carrying the child of his father, Teia is a thorn in the Speaker's side--one she finds it increasingly difficult to remove. Teia must stand up to Ytha, defend herself against and escape from Drw before he is named Chief of Chiefs, and act upon the dark, bloody foretelling she sees through her power as Banfaíth. The Wild Hunt is coming; the Raven's Hounds are coming, and Teia feels their breath on the back of her neck no matter how fast she runs. If she is to save her people and their lands, Teia must consider all available options--even if that means losing everything dear to her in the process.

Meanwhile, Gair nurses a broken heart and is swept away to the lands in which every face will remind him of his lost love, and all because of his honour-bound word to Alderan. The Guardian is in search of the starseed and he will stop at nothing to find it, because the alternative doesn't bear thinking about. But of course, there are others who seek the starseed.

Savin plots ruthlessly and with complete entitled abandon as he seeks out the starseed. He finds himself perplexed by Gair's abilities following the events of the previous book, but continues to treat with the dark creatures from beyond the Veil in order to fulfil his goals. He is a dark, loathsome and bratty antagonist who is seen fully through his own narrative in Trinity Rising. Cooper writes an imaginative, hateful villain who is there to be hated with incredulous rage (which is always fun!).

The pacing is precisely what it needs to be: constant, relentless and inevitable. Cooper rushes nothing and nothing drags for longer than necessary. The story is exactly what it needs to be and it is told in just the way it needed to be told. It is an excellent example of how to carry on a series.

There are several new story arcs introduced, and none are resolved during the book. This is one of the aspects of Cooper's writing that really feels like a story, instead of a "book". There is no set structure, just the plot. By the end of Trinity Rising we are left hanging at the end of several threads, seeking answers and continuation. We are left thirsty and ravenous for more.

The Dragon House (expected 19th September 2013, as per Amazon UK) will be an eagerly awaited instalment, in which I will be diving head first, just to wrap up the hanging threads left dangling from Trinity Rising.

Cooper is a storyteller who weaves words like a master, and whose prose is deep, elegant and magical.
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on 8 September 2013
Initially I though this series was a badly plotted series of sword and sorcery books. However as the series has continued they have become more and more engaging. Certainly worth the time.
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on 3 February 2013
Read the first book and had to follow up with this. Great read and lookinjg forward to book 3. Impressed with the many threads that hold this tory together and an exceelent read
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on 3 September 2013
A really good read and excellent storyline which keeps the characters old and new alive and jumping off the pages. Cannot wait for the next book.
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The second book for Elspeth and one that continues to expand upon the world presented in her first. It has great characters, a darker tinge beneath the covers and for me when blended with the authors writing style really gives me what I look for in a fantasy.

Back that up with a friendly and engaging use of prose alongside dialogue and you too will find yourself taken into this world that she's lovingly crafted. Finally throw into the mix deeper threads with repercussions for the series as a whole and a number of mysterious players that's hinted at and all in it's a book that really works on so many levels. I just hope that the various threads don't run away with themselves.
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on 31 January 2016
A great second instalment, even better than the first. Great characters, fine world building, and engaging story written in poetic prose.
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