Thursday, 14 January 2016

Earth Drummer

Earth Drummer

by Echo Fox

5 out of 5

Synopsis
Gentian is tiptoeing uncomfortably around his grieving father and headstrong twin sister, doing as he’s told for the sake of peace. However, when strange fire-filled dreams start to take over his nights, Gentian faces a tricky decision. Should he go ahead with his own arranged marriage, his future all planned out before him? Or should he accept the Shaman’s offer of becoming his initiate and learning about Earth magic? With his animal totem Tern to guide him, will Gentian be able to make his choice before his entire world spirals out of control?

EQUILIBRIA SERIES
Trouble is brewing in the harmonious land of Pangaea. Ever since the continent was split into four elemental parts by Strife, the balance has been edging ever so slightly in favour of the dark. Now, four elementals just coming into their powers must meet Strife head on and restore balance to their world.
In Wave Singers, we met Merry and the people of Thera, the Mer.
In Earth Drummer, Gentian must make a decision that could save his people - or leave them to face the darkness alone.



Review
Gentian is happy living on the family farm with his father and twin sister.  He is looking forward to the time that he will marry and have a family and farm of his own.  But that is ruined when he is plagued by dreams of fire.

This is the second book in Equilibria series, returning to the land of Pangea.
The first instalment - Wave Singers (click here to read my review) - saw Merry pulled from our world and discover the wonders of mermaids.
Earth Drummer is in another country of that world; and whereas Wave Singers had links with our world, this book is entirely based in Pangea.
It does not relate to Merry's story, for the most part, and I felt that it wasn't necessary to read the first book before picking up this one.

I really enjoyed this story, it felt much stronger than the first part of the series; you can tell that Fox's writing is so much more confident compared to her debut.
Earth Drummer felt like it was very grounded (pun intended).  The people live a very simple, yet happy, farming lifestyle.  They trade their harvests and share what they can.
There is a shaman who works endlessly to heal and is an integral part of the community.

The story follows Gentian and his twin sister Geanna, as they are of an age to marry; which is traditionally arranged by their parents.  Gentian has been looking forward to this, having long harboured a dream of a loving wife and kids, and continuing his father's farm, even though he's not very good at it.
His sister is less keen on the traditional restrictions afforded to her gender.  She doesn't want to be married to some guy that will force her to stay in the house with "women's chores".  Geanna has lots of smart ideas about how to improve the crops, but isn't allowed to put them into practise.
There stubborn father's plans for them go askew, when Gentian starts to have vivid dreams of fire.  It is only a matter of time before he is being tutored by the shaman, to tackle spirits and boost the well-being of the community.

Whereas Wave Singers was a bit of an adventure, Earth Drummer is focussed on family and community, there is no high drama or wild adventure.  For all that, I don't remember ever being bored.  I enjoyed every minute with Gentian, going through his training, and the relationship with his overbearing father.  It all felt so real, I was completely immersed in his story.

Now, I am wondering whether it is Fox's improving skill as a writer that made such a relatively small story so entertaining; or is she crafty enough to make the plot and feel of each book echo the dominant element.  I've read the changeable and adventurous water, and the warm and confident earth... I suppose I'll just have to read the rest of the series to find out!

Goodreads link
Amazon.co.uk

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