I planned to finish Sowing, review it, post it, and then start on Quelling.
Things didn’t go as planned.
Mostly because the Purification Era Series is a brilliant book series, but I’ll get into that in a second. I’m going to avoid spoilers as well as I can, but please be aware that you will discover some things! If you want a spoiler free experience, order it on Amazon here.
Now, the review.
When I finished the series (after a couple nights worth of staying up till twelve) I churned with emotion and needed the next installment. Writing helps me process feelings, so I’ll break down for you the why of why I loved it. And some things I didn’t love. Here we go.
- Plot. I think this is one of Grigaliunas’ strongest points. As a fantasy reader, only after her book did I realize how many fantasy books are devoid of the plot twists and suspense that Sowing (and Quelling) possess. If you look closely, there is also masterful foreshadowing—that adds to the fun. The plot twists kept me reading, but only because of another strong point–
- Character interactions/relationships. At first, I viewed the characters as simple, but I quickly became fascinated with their backstories and relationships–with other characters and the society they lived in. I thought another realistic aspect that provided a way to examine certain characters was the lack of a main antagonist. Everyone–bad guys, good guys–got explored.
Another strong point of this method was you were allowed to view the antagonistic side and the protagonistic side for what it might actually look like in real life. For example, few fantasy books that I’ve read have the evil dystopian leaders or their cronies as believable, understandable humans. Character flaws are apparent in the narrators of the story, (one in particular, 😉 and those flaws actually color the truth. In reality, there are good guys on the bad side and not everyone on the “good” side is actually good, and the setup of this world exposed that. It was refreshing, and made things more believable and real.
I also think the way the rebellion operated was well researched and good inspiration for writers looking to create rebellions of their own. The danger was real.
- Masrekah and Rabreah. Like I said, the lack of a main antagonist allows different characters to be explored. Watching this one’s character develop, even over the course of two books, was infatuating.
Rabreah was a perfectly imperfect character, and I loved seeing her character develop over the books as well. Her fears and flaws developed sympathy with the reader and made up for what Ariliah lacked (in the first book).
There were many other good aspects, including good writing and intriguing worldbuilding. In all honesty, I’d say the good outweighs the bad, and if you’re looking for a fun fantasy read with plot twists and interesting characters, this is one for you.
However, I did have a few problems. A couple glaring issues, a couple so-so, and a few that could be overlooked that I won’t mention. Keeping in mind that it’s an indie publication, the problems are far better than they could be.
- Lack of a theme. After tearing through the books, I realized: I enjoyed the realism with which topics, from dystopias to marriage to authorities to rebellions, were approached, but when I finished, I realized there was not exactly a theme or lesson that left my heart aching, that left me thinking about humanity, life’s purpose, what love means and–well, great topics like that. I love to think about those.
And I know not every book style is formatted to accommodate those topics. Some books are meant to be fun, fast reads. And that’s okay. Also, I’m not saying there aren’t lessons to be learned from it–but I suspect that one of its advantages, the intriguing plot, detracted from moral or philosophical lessons that could be gleaned if it had a clearer theme and went at a slightly slower pace. And maybe that’s not the purpose of the book.
I enjoyed seeing the characters develop as the books went on, which made up for some of that, but I would have liked to see a little more of “Yes, this was the purpose for that.” To see something that made me ponder. Hopefully the author will include more themes like that in the next book. I loved the “whats”, although I would have liked a bit more on the “why” of everything that happened.
- The rebellion’s goals. On surface value, the townspeople are generally discontent. It seems like most of those complaints are about the early marriage laws, but their claims about the discomfort and abuse caused by them seem largely unfounded. (Less unfounded considering there are women in the military! Fewer, but it would’ve been unheard of in Medieval times). Perhaps the townspeople feel irked, but it seems doubtful that the whole town could unite in unrest and rebellion about something that isn’t even that much of a problem, let alone injustice. The world of the Hulcondates operates very well for a medieval-era society.
There is, however, a glaring injustice, one to which the townspeople seem unconcerned about. Even the main protagonists seem indifferent to the problem. Perhaps, deep down, they’re not, but I feel like there should have been far more unrest and pushback against the real problem instead of harping about marriage laws.
- Sorek and Ariliah. First off, I felt Ariliah served as somewhat of a lens character in the beginning: she didn’t seem to have autonomy, opinions, or even anger at injustice being inflicted on her. That was not easy to relate to (most of us prickle at being wronged even if we’re used to it). I loved the fact that she was a pure, sweet character, though, and she had to suffer, which deepened sympathy for her, and, thirdly, her character did develop and you observed qualities in her (for instance, compassion for Masrekah) that made her more appealing.
Sorek I have more of a problem with. Part of it is that I am unnattracted to cocky characters, but another thing is that considering Rabreah’s insecurity and past abuse, his relationship with her developed far too quickly, especially them opening up to each other and liking each other. Sorek appears out of nowhere and captivates Rabreah, despite many years of built up hardness and bitterness against men in general, and the way they meet is not…conducive to a relationship.
(Also, I’m just wondering, is having Sorek as the main interrogator for the rebel trial a good way to build trust among his followers? Should there be another rebel who’s in charge of the dirty work of interrogating everyone so the rebels don’t feel threatened by their leader?)
That’s a really minor point. Basically, I think their romantic relationship developed prematurely. We don’t even completely know who Sorek is yet, let alone what he and Rabreah will be together.
Buuuuuuuuuuuuut, in spite of that, (and I’m sorry for spoilers) it’s great and I’m happy I read it. I have inspiration for making a better fictional world, what a real rebellion might look like, and a host of characters to daydream about (two in particular, but anyway ;).
The foreshadowing was also a great point. I have certain quotes highlighted in my book–I notice them repeated later on. It’s a book that will leave you reeling and reading again, studying to find what you missed.
So, please head on over and buy it! Tell the author thank you. And ask her to hurry on the next book (I really can’t wait).
If my grievances sound concerning, I’ll tell you this: Quelling expanded and improved on Sowing. (It was in Quelling that I finally warmed to Ariliah’s character.) Based on that, the series will probably develop and improve.
Secondly, the book is an indie book. And we readers may not understand how filtered and polished mainstream books are. Grigaliunas, to be fair, is taking on a lot as an indie author with no army of professional reviewers to comb through the books.
Anyway, I hope you all enjoy. Keep wandering,