Shalia is a proud daughter of the desert, but after years of devastating war with the adjoining kingdom, her people are desperate for peace. Willing to trade her freedom to ensure the safety of her family, Shalia becomes Queen of the Bonelands.
But she soon learns that her husband, Calix, is motivated only by his desire to exterminate the Elementae—mystical people who can control earth, wind, air, and fire. Even more unsettling are Shalia’s feelings for her husband’s brother, which unleash a power over the earth she never knew she possessed—a power that could get her killed. As rumors of a rebellion against Calix spread, Shalia must choose between the last chance for peace and her own future as an Elementae.
This intense, richly drawn high-fantasy by the author of Scarletwill hold readers spellbound.
I know going into this review that I am not going to able to do my thoughts, or this book, justice. Reign the Earth by A.C. Gaughen is one of the best books I’ve read in a while. It’s an extremely dark, political, feminist adventure. All of the characters in this book were incredibly well written, but I have to give special mention to the women. Adria, Kata, Danae and Shalia were all extremely well developed, powerful female characters. The story was heavy, intelligent and addictive.
For the most part, all of the characters were really well flushed out. The biggest factor in whether I enjoy a story tends to be whether or not I understand the characters and their behaviors. Calix sometimes felt evil for the sake of being evil, and I’d like to see a bit more insight into how he became so harsh as a leader. (I should elaborate, Calix is an abusive piece of garbage and I don’t want a redemption arc or excuses, but I would find it interesting to here more about his past.) Zeph, Galen, and Kairos I found to be really endearing and adorable characters who made the book extra enjoyable.
I don’t want to spoil the story so I won’t get to far into the plot, but mystical people, arranged marriages and rebellion tend to be a pretty interesting combination and this is no exception. Overall, I found the plot, characters and world building in Reign The Earth to be exquisite. I loved this book and would recommend it to fantasy readers. I would like to warn everyone that, despite how this book may appear based on the cover, Reign The Earth is a fairly dark tale. I do believe it should have content warnings for abuse, consent (within arranged marriage, may be troubling to some) and pregnancy (violence and threat to pregnancy, may be troubling to some readers).
I gave this book 5 out of 5 Stars.