Phoenix Rising #1: Elissa's Quest

Phoenix Rising #1: Elissa's Quest

4.8 22
by Erica Verrillo

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THIRTEEN-YEAR-OLD ELISSA LEADS a solitary life. She knows nothing of her parents—only that her mother is dead. Her caretaker, Nana, keeps her father's identity a secret from her. Meanwhile Elissa carries her own secret—the people of the valley must not know that she has the gift of speaking to animals. For now she is just a healer's apprentice in peaceful… See more details below


THIRTEEN-YEAR-OLD ELISSA LEADS a solitary life. She knows nothing of her parents—only that her mother is dead. Her caretaker, Nana, keeps her father's identity a secret from her. Meanwhile Elissa carries her own secret—the people of the valley must not know that she has the gift of speaking to animals. For now she is just a healer's apprentice in peaceful High Crossing, but Elissa dreams of a more exciting life, and of, one day, finding her father.

When an unexpected royal guest arrives at the Manor, Elissa's life changes forever. She leaves home with him, only to discover that she's become a pawn in a battle for his kingdom. Accompanied by her dear donkey, Gertrude, she is delivered to the evil Khan. Elissa's quest for freedom and the truth about her past leads to questions about the future. Is she the key to a prophecy—the prophecy of the Phoenix—that everyone seems to know about, except her?

In Book One of the Phoenix Rising trilogy, new author Erica Verrillo has crafted a classic—and often humorous—fantasy adventure with a strong, unwitting heroine.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

A deep love of nature is evidenced in Verrillo's pastoral fantasy debut, the first book in the Phoenix Rising trilogy. Thirteen-year-old orphan Elissa lives in the serene village of High Crossing, where she is an apprentice to the healer Nana. A gentle soul, Elissa can communicate with animals and has forged a deep connection with a donkey named Gertrude. Word comes of soldiers on the way from neighboring Castlemar; among them is a man named Lord Falk, who, it is revealed, is Elissa's father. Falk takes Elissa with him when he departs; she learns that her father is planning to use her as collateral to secure the use of highly skilled soldiers from the vicious Khan. Khan's purposes are much darker: as Elissa is the heir to the throne, Khan intends to secretly marry her, though her young age prevents him from doing so. She escapes, ending up with a group of healers who reveal the story behind the castle the Khan now inhabits. Falk's naiveté in handing his daughter over to the Khan requires some suspension of disbelief, but that's a minor complaint in an otherwise charming and elegant story. Elissa emerges as a thoroughly lovable heroine, her toughness growing over the course of the story but her peaceful nature and love of life remaining ever constant. Ages 9-12. (June)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
VOYA - Ruth Cox Clark
The first title in the Phoenix Rising Trilogy pulls the reader into the story via both delightful and dastardly humans, as well as an opinionated donkey named Gertrude. Thirteen-year-old Elissa lives a sheltered life as the assistant to the midwife who delivered her. She has been told that her mother died when she was born, but she knows nothing of her father's identity. Elissa has the gift of communicating with animals, and Gertrude, who accompanies Elissa into the woods and mountains in search of herbs, is her confidante as well as a source of gossip about the Manor. Elissa's idyllic life changes upon the surprise arrival of her father. Lord Falk now has an interest in his daughter, as she is the bargaining chip necessary to seal an agreement with the Khan, who will then lend Falk soldiers to defend his kingdom. Although scared and quite nanve to the ways of unscrupulous leaders, Elissa agrees to live in the Khan's household for a year. When her father leaves, Elissa learns that the lecherous and grossly obese Khan plans to make her one of his wives. With the help of a wise woman and a young slave in the Khan's household, Elissa is able to escape with a caravan and discovers that she is the missing piece in a prophecy of the Blue people of the desert. Middle schoolers will delight in Elissa's adventures and impatiently wait for the next series book. This opener will appeal to readers who enjoy Tamora Pierce's books.
Kirkus Reviews
Elissa, age 13, wonders who her parents are. Nana, midwife and healer in the Valley, tells her nothing. Elissa keeps secret her Gift, which is to speak to animals and have them talk back, especially Gertrude the donkey. But when her father, Lord Falk, appears suddenly, and she discovers the name of her dead mother, and the Khan wishes to add Elissa to his harem of wives and concubines, she finds herself thrust from the green valley to the desert. A younger girl, Maya, becomes her servant and her companion. The Blue People, desert dwellers, protect them, and Elissa in turn saves the people from the Khan by drawing on the power of the earth and the understanding of the animals. There is not a lot compelling in either plot or characterization, and the story comes to an end rather than a climax, waiting for the next installment. (Fantasy. 9-12)

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Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Phoenix Rising Trilogy , #1
Sold by:
Random House
Sales rank:
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt


The Ancient One sat huddled beside her fire, poking at the last faintly glowing embers with a crooked stick.

“I am so old,” she grumbled.

It was true. She was indeed quite old—so old that when she calculated her age, it was not in years but in eons. How many centuries had passed since her fire had last burned bright? She had lost track. But what did it matter? Her vitality, her beauty, her brightness had faded ages ago, leaving this empty, withered husk in its place. No one remembered who she was, who she had been. She could hardly remember herself.

“Feh,” she said, throwing the stick into the fire. It blazed luminous against the coals but soon burned itself out. “I’ll never get it hot enough at this rate.”

There was something she needed to do. Something urgent. But she was so tired. It was easier to doze, and to dream; she dreamt of the Fire—its flames rising high, consuming her with their intense heat. The Ancient One saw herself falling, burning, then rising up effortlessly, the living embodiment of light and life, her youth and beauty restored. Then the vision faded, her purpose waning along with it, like the dying embers of her fire.

Perhaps she should get up, look for kindling. But movement had become so difficult. She felt as if every part of her body were turning to stone, and each breath she took might be her last. Like an old, neglected clock, she was winding down. She was dimly aware that when she arrived at her final tick, tock, tick . . . everything else would come to a halt as well. At times such as these, she wasn’t sure she cared. She dozed briefly and imagined the world slowing with her, stopping in its circular track—turning into a cold, dark lump of clay. Ending.

Being one with the universe has its disadvantages, she thought. There are simply too many responsibilities.

A spark flew from the hearth and onto the hem of her fraying robe. It glowed there for a moment, leaving only a little puff of smoke behind when it winked out. The Ancient One sniffed at the acrid smell of burning wool, so much like the smell of burning hair—or feathers. Then her eyes flew open. She remembered what she needed to do. The Fire must be lit! But not in this little hearth. No, what she needed was a bolt of lightning, a tempest to fan it into an inferno, and then a torrent to douse it when it had done its job. Then the Phoenix would rise once again and fly into the stars.

An ember popped, reminding her that time was running out.

The Ancient One forced herself to stand, a painstaking act completed in many small increments. She looked about, feeling the cooling draft of the hearth, the darkness, the hollowness in her bones.

“I hope it’s not too late,” she said.

From the Hardcover edition.

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