By Elspeth Cooper
When we left Gair at the end of the spectacular novel Songs of the Earth there had been a pretty big shock. Rather than start where the story left off, Trinity Rising instead follows Teia, a young woman who seems destined to witness great and terrible things. a young woman who has hidden powers few others could even dream of. A young woman who is caught in the snare of her ambitious tribal leader who plans on uniting the people and claiming back that which was lost, with blood, battle and death if needed.
This approach of almost beginning the story again but from a different perspective is something that I didn't expect and did take a little getting used to. Having left Gair in the state he was at the end of Songs of the Earth I was looking forward to jumping right in and seeing what happened but instead we are introduced to the character of Teia and given a totally different perspective on this high fantasy story.
Ultimately this works very well, there is a greater maturity to the prose which along with the expanded storyline creates a real feeling of an epic tale, a grand adventure that is only really beginning. I'd love to see this become a long and established series and do hope the author doesn't rush things through. There is a more adult edge to the narrative too, complete with some serious themes of rape, abuse and the inequality of women. Of course these aren't new subjects within the genre but none-the-less they are introduced with maturity, intelligence and a great deal of sensitivity. There are some quite detailed and graphic scenes though and I wouldn't recommend this series for the younger reader. We also get some time with that ever so bad character Savin and this includes some of the events from the first book, seen from Savin's perspective. This itself makes the restart of the story worth it and the author does a brilliant job of repeating those events from a different viewpoint.
It isn't till around half way through the book that we get to see what happens to Gair next and I still feel that he is the strongest character of the story so far although understandably he spends much of the novel in grief and despair, another sign that this is an epic that will take time in the telling. Teia is very much the central focus of this journey and yet I did find it more difficult to create a real affinity for the character. There is a ruthless quality about the character - brought on by her experiences and the ways of her people - that I found difficult to relate to. One thing I did love though was the way the character really grows and develops as the story progresses, becoming a much stronger and confident character who permeates a sense of prophecy from every pore of her body. Strong women and weak(er) men do seem to be a big focus for this book. The pace does feel a little slower in places than it did in Songs of the Earth however there is still that almost lyrical quality to the prose which helps to transport the reader to this rich, magical world.
The story itself is very engaging and has a big game-changer, a surprise that I really didn't expect and left me pretty shocked (not something that happens very often), this however wasn't even the only surprise with a number of twists to the plot and some fantastic scenes including a cliff-hanger of an ending that will leave you wanting more. It's the almost poetic prose that really lifts this series, something that is just as evident here as it was in Songs of the Earth and a feeling that really does draw you deep into the story.
Trinity Rising is almost too clever for it's own good, it does work but you do have to be prepared that it is quite different to the preceding volume and yet has the same poetic power and intesity, the same rich narrative and is ultimately just as rewarding. I am really looking forward to see how this series develops and I have a feeling it could become an epic to rival the scale of Wheel of Time or A Song of Ice and Fire, I look forward to the journey.
Written on 10th September 2012 by Ant .