Book Review: Gravity’s Revenge by A.E. Marling

I am so pleased to be taking part of a blog tour for A.E. Marling’s newest book, Gravity’s Revenge. I have been a fan since I first got my hands on the excellent Brood of Bones, the first book set in the Lands of Loam, and look forward with eager anticipation to each new release—and he is a remarkably prolific, chalking up four books in the space of two years. Lucky for us, he keeps getting better and better. If you haven’t yet paid a visit to the Lands of Loam, it’s just a short flight away, and the journey is well worth your time.

In the Mindvault Academy, magic imbued within the stone reroutes the flow of gravity. The school’s enchantments allow for architectural wonders that inspire the empire’s next generation of great minds.

Now those minds are falling. The Academy’s spells are collapsing, its keystone jewels stolen. Saboteurs have invaded the magic school in a political heist a year in the planning. The attackers make but one mistake: Getting between Enchantress Hiresha and her research.

Hiresha, Provost of Applied Enchantment, endures her own pathological sleepiness to study unorthodox magic. Now twelve warriors have invaded the Academy, the only home she has ever known. Hiresha plans to expel them with the help of a dangerously charming illusionist, her loyal bodyguard, and spells by no means in the approved curriculum.

My Review:

Gravity’s Revenge is easily the most intense of Enchantress Hiresha’s three books. What begins as the innocuous introduction of a student to the Academy swiftly turns into white-knuckle reading. Hiresha is thrown into an untenable situation when the Bright Palms choose to hold her beloved Academy hostage—and their actions threaten to rip her entire world apart. The Bright Palms are a truly terrifying enemy. They are devoid of emotion and unaffected by physical duress. The leader in this foray, Sheamab, is frighteningly relentless, and learning more about Bright Palm magic was a treat. They’re every bit as awful as Feasters.

Lord Tethiel is one of the most compelling supporting characters I’ve ever seen. A victim of tragedy and betrayal (though we’re only given hints about his past), he struggles with the burden of the power he holds. He can be at once charming and dreadful, and his relationship with Hiresha is never clear-cut. Is it a case of impossible romance, or is he masterfully manipulative? His slithery ambiguity keeps me guessing.

Hiresha herself remains a wonderful anti-hero. The tension and sheer speed of events seems to help her stay awake, but the constant fatigue brought on by her condition is another enemy she battles. While she is fiercely determined to save the Academy and its residents, things don’t always go the way she plans, and sometimes she makes mistakes. Those set-backs heighten the tension and increase the sense of jeopardy. I love the way her mindset—as seen from the beginning of her story in Brood of Bones—is inevitably altered by her experiences, and she has some doozies. It makes me wonder if all the other enchantresses at the Academy really lead the sedate, proper lives we’re led to believe.

In the midst of the intense action and drama, Marling finds time to paint vivid pictures of the truly unique setting that is the Mindvault Academy. Twisting towers, rotating buildings, tentacled structures, and gravity-defying walls and bridges… all in the middle of a blizzard, no less. Gravity’s Revenge is a rich tapestry of the senses sure to amaze and delight.

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P.S. Time for another shameless plug. I am celebrating the print release of my novel, As the Crow Flies, with a blog tour in early June. There will be a giveaway! If you can donate a spot on your blog, please sign up here: As the Crow Flies Blog Tour. Your tweets and Facebook announcements are also much appreciated!

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