Air Awakens Book Review
I realize it has been a long time since I have posted anything. It has also been a long time since I have read anything. However, it is Golden Week, here on the other side of the world. And that has afforded me some time to do a little light reading. I also splurged and actually bought a book.
The Air Awakens was written by Elise Kova. It revolves a young woman, Vhalla, who works in the Palace Library until she discovers that she is blessed or cursed with magic. Magic is the ability to manipulate one of the classic four elements. As it turns out, Vhalla possess the extraordinarily rare Affinity for Air. Unfortunately, Vhalla has been raised to fear and hate magic. Compound this with an uncertain relationship with the mighty and terrible Crown Prince and Vhalla’s ordinary and simple life becomes suddenly complicated.
So, what did I think? Well, the book was engaging. I read it one sitting – which is generally a good sign. I did not skip ahead either, another good sign. I liked the story. And I especially liked that it was a story. Yes, this is book one in a series. And there is no doubt when you reach the ending that it is just starting some large war arc.
However, I didn’t feel cheated by the end. Sure, the story was still going and certainly there are threads left dangling to entice the reader (particularly the Bond between Vhalla and the Crown Prince – which the author tries to leave vague). Still, Vhalla did change over the course of the story. Other characters came more into focus. And the world itself developed. While there is still much going on, I feel the book was complete enough.
Was this book perfect? Of course not! I confess there were moments when it dragged a little, as it retread old ground. Occasionally it was difficult to relate to Vhalla’s reluctance to join the Tower of Sorcerers. Especially as their lives were clearly not evil and they lived in far better condition that she did as an Apprentice in the Library. A good attempt was made to show the progression of thoughts that bound Vhalla to her old life and how those changed with time. Most authors would have written the story in the first person perspective to cover this concept. I am grateful that Kova did not. It was a nice change not to have to listen to every rambling thought of the main protagonist.
The trail tossed in at the end was certainly forced. Politics should have been introduced earlier, though would have helped to ease this transition. Really, the last third of the book is rather discontinuous with the earlier style. The end portion was obviously written to set up the next books in the series. Where as the first part was more of a character study, the second part was the introduction of politics and obvious villains sent to test the fortitude of the hero.
The other problem I have with the book is the magic. Magic is linked to the very boring four element theory. We learn that mages ‘Awaken’ to their powers as we see Vhalla do. We know that mages need to study to master their skills, again we start to see this process with Vhalla. But just what are the restrictions and limitations. Just what skills does the heroine possess? That is made even less clear by the end of the story when suddenly Vhalla not only accepts that she can do magic, but that she can kill powerful people at a distance. This was not entirely unexpected, but it was a bit awkward. Once again showing the disconnect between the start of the book and its conclusion.
So, the story was not the most original tale. It was written with enough interest and pacing to engage the reader. While it does raise some interesting questions about war and empires, I am not holding my breath for an actual discussion about either one.
I suppose that leaves one other obvious question: will I buy the sequels (as that is the only way to read them)? The answer is a mixed yes and no. Yes, I can see myself buying the next book in the series. But not immediately. I will wait to see if I can get it at a cheaper price. Also, the story is setting a very predictable plot line, so it is not a priority. Still, if you are looking for a fun, light fantasy than this is a good book to try.