Welcome my stop for The Banished Craft by E.D.E. Bell! The tour runs August 18 – September 1 with reviews, interviews, guest posts, excerpts and giveaways. The Banished Craft is a fantasy novel and is written for adults but is appropriate for mature young adult readers. This is the first book of the Shkode series and is released on September 1, 2015. Check out the tour schedule for all the other goings on.
The Banished Craft is a genre-bending fantasy saga that follows the adventures of Cor, a woman caught in a dying world that does not accept her, and Atesh, a dragon scientist who’s been asked to violate his own ethics or put the lives of his family at risk. Follow their trials as they deal with a shattered world, mired in political upheaval, while they try to rediscover a lost magic. The Banished Craft begins the Shkode trilogy: a quirky and modern take on dragons and wizards, exploring themes of identity, prejudice, violence, compassion, and the ways we are all connected.
***** Review *****
Teirrah is a singular country under much distress with mounting tensions. The laws and taxes prohibit life and growth and oppress women. There is much political unrest. A large series of characters from each region of the land make up the cast of characters and all play pivotal roles in the story.
Zee – the Imperial Emperor (dragon); has maintained an unusually long reign
Dronna – an infamous Imperial General (dragon); will do anything to help Zee
Atesh – a genius biologist (dragon); works in the Imperial Lab; mate to Jwala
Jwala – in the Imperial Guard (dragon); mate to Atesh
Frospa – an engineer of her own inventions (dragon); slopemates with Jwala and Atesh; mate to Londew
Londew – a storyteller (dragon); slopemates with Jwala and Atesh; mate to Frospa
Jelt – befriends Ssarh (dragon); has a unique history with the Emperor
Ssarh – an unsuccessful art student (dragon); friends with Jelt; believes he will be a famous artist
Greg – Francie’s husband (human); current President of U.G.; obsessed with the upcoming election
Francie – Greg’s wife (human); unhappy with her political life
Cor – a Cavestate woman (human); traveled to Farmstate; friends with Iohn
Iohn – a Farmstate man (human); attends University in Farmstate; friends with Cor
Mica – a Seastate woman (human); granddaughter of a famous shipbuilder; enjoys her alcohol
Borso – a Seastate man (human); blames the U.G. for the death of his family; outspoken in his political beliefs
Piero – a Seastate boy (human); friends with Borso; also outspoken in his political beliefs
I wanted to read this book because of the cover. A girl, running, in a library. It intrigued me. The girl turns out to be Cor.
The land of Teirrah is broken up into various regions: Seastate, a group of islands whose inhabitants depend on the seafaring way of life; Marshstate, a relatively small section of marshy, swampy land whose inhabitants produce cloth; Cavestate, a series of caves along the mountainside where water is scarce; Farmstate, the largest and most developed of the regions who depend upon agriculture; and finally Gardenia, the small section that shares borders with its neighboring Farmstate and home to the government. I could not figure out where the dragons were on the map, but that is explained at the end.
This book is complex. It begins with a prologue by an unknown character, who seems to have caused issue with some scientific work, causing a rift of sorts in the worlds and between creatures. This character is trying to right this mistake, and pops up every so often throughout the book. She believes that only the most intelligent creatures will recognize her messages, and as such Cor and Atesh seem to be the only characters who are receptive to them.
There are so many characters in this book. There are multiple areas of the land Terrieh, and there are multiple characters represented in each region. At the beginning this was very overwhelming and too much for me. The book is very convoluted, with alternating chapters or sections of chapters that jump to different sets of characters. I got confused on who was who, but the images at the beginnings of each chapter let readers know if the chapter is about people or dragons, so that helped me start keeping things straight.
The Unified Government (U.G.) has officers posted in all regions of Teirrah, but is quite similar to the physical set up seen in The Hunger Games wherein the government is concentrated in one section with luxury, and the most prosperous region nearby shares in the wealth. The other regions are oppressed and taxed to create and promote tensions in the land. The inhabitants have become prisoners in their own homes without even realizing it.
The plot is at times hard to follow because of the immense number of characters, and it does drag in a few places, but overall it is written linearly to come to the end with no major unforeseen twists or predictions. There is little character development due to the sheer number of characters. It’s almost impossible when working with those numbers, but I believe the main characters listed above will remain key players in the second book in the series.
I was very disappointed in Iohn’s character. Iohn is different than the others, he believes Cor to be an intelligent, educated person – even though she is a woman. He likes that about her, but he rides both sides of the fence, and only seems accepting of her when no one else is around. It is the epitome of emotional manipulation and I wanted to slap Iohn.
This book speaks to a few contemporary issues, and in this context these issues seem so utterly archaic and deplorable. In all of Teirrah, women are seen only for their reproductive qualities. They are seen as sinister, trying to use their evil powers to overtake men, but still deserving of love. It was such an oxymoron of ideas. There are so many laws and nearly all of them oppress women: they cannot be educated, they cannot own land, they cannot do anything. Cor struggles with the standings of her gender’s stature in society.
There are also a number of other social issues brought up throughout the book. Each region has its own traditions, which are changing due to trade and other political notions. Abuse of power and illegal drugs also play a large part in Cor and Atesh’s journeys.
This book has a dystopian aspect to it, in a world that seems to be falling apart, but it is a lot to riddle out as a reader. If you enjoy epic journeys, this is a book for you.
***** About the Author *****
Author E.D.E. Bell is a graduate of the University of Michigan with an MSE in Electrical Engineering, and works as an advisor in technical intelligence. A vegan and enthusiastic ignorer of gender rules, she feels strongly about issues related to human equality and animal compassion. Married with three children, she decided to pursue her dream of writing and is excited to share that vision with fans of epic fantasy.