Earth’s End by Elise Kova
This is the type of series that needs to be read in order. None of the books so far stand alone. Book Two (Fire Falling) left us with a cliffhanger (literally) ending. In honour of not spoiling it for anyone who hasn’t read Earth’s End yet I’m going to be a bit vague in this review.
Description (from Amazon)
Vhalla Yarl has made it to the warfront in the North. Forged by blood and fire, she has steeled her heart for the final battle of the Solaris Empire’s conquest. The choices before Vhalla are no longer servitude or freedom, they are servitude or death. The stakes have never been higher as the Emperor maintains his iron grip on her fate, holding everything Vhalla still has left to lose in the balance.
This was a compelling read. Every time I opened my kindle I got sucked into the world that Ms Kova has created and I’m pretty sure I was blinking owlishly and looking to see how much time had passed when I surfaced.
What I liked:
This did not disappoint. We learn more about the world. We meet new characters (Jax). And we get to watch Vhalla continue to grow as a person. She’s had an incredible amount of change to go through and watching how she copes and how she changes in response is fantastic. There’s also plenty of action as the battle for the North continues.
I really enjoyed the world building. There are still things we don’t know. And in fact there are parts of this story that caused me to have more questions. I’m hopeful they’ll be answered in time. There’s a theme of loyalty that runs throughout the book. It starts near the beginning when we’re reminded that “no matter how far we go, the Tower takes care of its own”, and we’re brought full circle towards the end when members of the guard and societal elite stand up to support Vhalla.
We learn more about the characters, although I’d love for Elecia to get how own book as I think she has an interesting background. We get to meet Jax, who has a bit of a Dr.Who/Jack Sparrow thing going on. But I think he sees and understands more than he lets on. His first introduction to Vhalla includes:
“You’re unassuming, you’re filthy, and you’re soaked in what I can only presume to be the blood of our enemies.” A grin slowly spread across Jax’s face, like that of a rabid beast. “Who said anything about being disappointed.”
And we get to watch Vhalla continue to grow. She’s gone from library apprentice, to sorcerer forced into fighting for the Emperor, to having been a soldier engaged in battle. Each of those have had an impact on her, and she’s had little down time to figure out how to deal with all of the change, and the moral implications of her actions. She’s killed people in battle and that cannot rest lightly on the soul.
What I didn’t like:
I have very few complaints but I really felt that there wasn’t enough emphasis on Vhalla’s magic. We know that her magic channels can be drained with too much exertion and we certainly see examples of that. But as a “tool” that was brought along for her magical capabilities there was little consideration given to her needs to keep her magic strong. At one point she ventures outside after having spent many days holed up inside and she reflects that “leaving with her projections hadn’t been enough. She needed the wind.” I think we already knew this and the fact that neither Vhalla or those using her appreciated what she needed was an issue.
Overall, the pacing was good and I was captivated by the story. I can’t wait for the next one.
If you’ve read the first two books in the series you need to read Earths End. If you haven’t, you need to go back and start with Air Awakens. You won’t regret it!