Publisher's Note:  

Shalia is a proud daughter of the desert, but after years of devastating war with the adjoining kingdom, her people are desperate for an end to the violence that has claimed so many of their loved ones. Willing to trade her freedom to ensure the safety of her family, Shalia becomes Queen of the Bone Lands, a country where magic is outlawed and the Elementae--those that can control earth, air, fire and water--are traitors, subject to torture . . . or worse.

Before she is even crowned, Shalia discovers that she can bend the earth to her will. Trapped between her husband's irrational hatred of the Elementae and a dangerous rebellion led by her own brother, Shalia must harness her power and make an impossible choice: save her family, save the Elementae, or save herself.

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Bloomsbury USA

Reign the Earth

by A.C. Gaughen

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Overall Review:  

Reign the Earth is the story of a fierce female heroine and how she learns of the power and strength within herself and by her linkage to her family.

There were several themes in this book that I really loved.  Shalia draws her power to control the earth from her love of family, friends, and people.  Loved that her power was strengthened by compassion.  It isn’t a facet that you see explored in many fantasy-based novels.  It was also wonderful to see that she defined family as those she loved, not just her blood relatives.

The ability to control elements and bend nature isn’t new in fantasy fiction.  However, I did feel the way the author couched these abilities and the backstory made it seem like it was a newer concept, and it didn’t feel overdone.  I liked that the abilities to control these elements had the ability to jump from a “gifted” race to one that wasn’t considered so.  It was a novel way to handle magical abilities that have long existed in the genre.

Women may find this book a little hard to read or offensive.  In one of the kingdoms women are very much treated as second-class citizens.  Although Shalia does try to better the situation, she does so by suggesting women perform menial labor to feed their families.  From there on out, there isn’t much mention of working toward gender equality.  That being said, it doesn’t distract from the plotline of the novel, and the most powerful people in the book are women, which does provide some balance.

Due to the subject matter, definitely a book for the older crowd.  (The depictions of marriage between a minor and an adult and the subsequent relationships are laced with violence.)  Reign the Earth is set up as the first in what will be a series, so those who don’t like to wait for next installments may want to wait before starting this one.  

Content Analysis:  

Profanity/Language:  1 religious exclamation, 30 mild obscenities, 2 derogatory names.

Violence/Gore:  Multiple verbal threats of bodily harm or death; small cuts, scrapes and bruises throughout book; report of death of family members and friends without detail; 2 page battle with throats slashed and bodies crushed with graphic depictions of blood; bodies of men found with throats slashed; girl is captured in ice and pushed up to the sky with minimal injuries, but frightening; magical powers collapse buildings and structures in multiple instances with deaths and injuries; 2 page recounting of genocide with torture and burning tower of people; man intimidates minor wife and grabs her roughly a number of times;  bodies found hanging as a warning to others; men and women who are victims of torture dragged out in front of others; magical powers attempt killing man by choking; girl killed by stabbing in back and then corpse repeatedly stabbed out of anger; graphic depiction of man’s throat being slit; 6 page attack on tower with death and injuries; bloody, dead bodies dragged into court square; 3 page battle with profuse blood and carnage; two instances of man smacking minor wife and knocking to floor or blooding facing; two sucker punches to faces between men; report of being poisoned and subsequent retaliation (no detail); 3 page explosion of city resulting in numerous deaths; man tortures girl to elicit powers; scars from torture seen while bathing; 4 page torture of girl by bleeding out; acid poured into woman’s eyes; 4 page battle with death and wounds from rocks and arrows; arm amputated (minimal detail).

Sex/Nudity:  Numerous instances of kissing and hand-holding; sexual innuendo; hands around waist a couple of times; man’s shirt taken off to tend wound; men and women stripped to bath; three instances of caresses to arms, back and face; woman sleeps naked; girl held while crying; recounting of kiss between females; 4 page session of kissing and caressing various part of body while undressing; neck massage between man and girl; man checks woman for sustained pregnancy semi-against her wishes (she is tied down, but agrees to check); 2 page scene of sex between adult male and minor female with minimal detail of actual act, but foreplay depicted graphically; lying in bed together while clothed.

Mature Subject Matter:  

Racial and socioeconomic conflict, death, war, spousal abuse (physical, verbal and emotional), ethics, murder.

Alcohol / Drug Use:  

Various ages drink wine.

Reviewed By Beckie
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