Mixed feelings on this one. Really I don’t know if I should read the next one in the series. Either it will redeem the series or I will nitpick it apart. What should I do?
Series: Seraphim; Book 1
Author: David Dalglish
ROTS Setting: CU/UU/EU, Medieval/Future, Magic
Synopsis: “Six islands float high above the Endless Ocean, where humanity’s final remnants are locked in brutal civil war. Their parents slain in battle, twins Kael and Brenna Skyborn are training to be Seraphim, elite soldiers of aerial combat who wield elements of ice, fire, stone and lightning. When the invasion comes, they will take to the skies, and claim their vengeance.”
Recommendation: Mid to late teens. I was actually surprised it wasn’t in the Teen or YA section. I’m placing this In Dispute because I want to like it, but it wasn’t that good.
– – Mild Spoilers – –
I want to like this book. I think that the general world setting and potential political dynamics were positioned perfectly for an amazing series. I was, however, disappointed…..repeatedly.
It’s hard to pick out if this world is unique or if it is set in Earth’s post-apocalyptic future. About 500 years before the events of the book the world was flooded due to human activities. To escape the rising waters 6 pieces of land were ripped from the earth and are now suspended in the air. One of the now floating islands was described as being 30 miles across. The islands are all dependent on the “theotechs” for pretty much everything. Additionally, the theotechs are also the priest of the state religion. I don’t think the religion was given a name, but the man responsible for getting the islands to float and save the people is something of a prophet who speaks with Gods Angels and then tells everyone else what to do……I’m actually confused if the original guy is still alive or if the current angel speaking guy is just one in a long line…..because it’s been 500 years.
Anyway, the magic might be technology, but it’s really hard to tell and the language used by the characters only serves to confuse thing further. These elemental prisms are widely used and do everything from heat water to powering the wings that can make you fly. Some people also have an affinity to specific elements and can learn to wield the elements (aka throw fire balls, ice spears, ect).
It’s a pretty neat world and it makes me have so many questions.
Now lets go a little deeper. The theotechs pretty much control everything. They are the only ones who can make the elemental prisms. They are the only ones who know how to build the wings. They are the only ones who can maintain the Beam to keep the islands floating. They have an effective strangle hold on the economy. War must be declared through them. They must witness every battle. They preform the elemental affinity tests. It’s unclear if there is a government on the island they are based on or if the theotechs just run it as the theotechs and Central (the island) are used interchangeably. They are the priests of the imposed state religion of the islands. To speak out against or negatively in anyway toward the religion is treasonous and results in execution.
And yet after all that, the main characters (and likely every other peon) are shocked to discover that their island is not an independent nation but controlled and manipulated by the theotechs. Anyone with half a brain can see that they aren’t nations so much as vassal states who are permitted to squabble with each other. The theotechs are the ultimate authority in every way.
There are supposed to be two main characters, Brenna and Kael Skyborn. It felt more like there was one main character and an over zealous secondary character. “Bree,” somehow short for Brenna, is a very dominant character. Kael, her twin brother, is a very submissive character. Also, Bree is written fairly well, while Kael is so flat he’s pretty much transparent. If that wasn’t bad enough nearly every time they would be talk to each other or doing something important together, it was written from the wrong perspective. And major character development moments are skipped to then be discussed or mentioned afterward.
The relationship between the twins is weak, bordering on improbable. I’ve had closer relationships to people I’ve just met than was often demonstrated between Kael and Bree. If their relationship is so weak after spending 16 years together 24/7 then every other relationship is practically non-existent. Bree ends up sleeping with a guy and you don’t even know until it’s practically irrelevant. Kael likes someone but you never see anything beyond that until suddenly he’s telling her he loves her.
Now for the storyline. There are two major story arcs. One involving the twins personally that is actually interesting but hardly touched on. The other involving all the islands. It’s the major story of the book and it’s boring with a weak premise. It doesn’t build on the setting. Like the islands it’s sort of floating in the air with nothing but it’s own flimsy excuses to keep it up.
Lastly, I’m putting this book In Dispute. I want to like this book. I really do, but it didn’t live up to it’s potential. Neither character was engaging and by the end of the book I wasn’t invested in the story.