Elissa's Quest (Phoenix Rising Trilogy #1) [NOOK Book]

Overview

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 ...
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Elissa's Quest (Phoenix Rising Trilogy #1)

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Overview

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

  • ISBN-13: 9780307495082
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 3/12/2009
  • Series: Phoenix Rising Trilogy , #1
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 1,210,467
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Erica Verrillo is a world traveler who has worked and studied in a variety of fields, including classical music, Latin American history, linguistics, folk dance, anthropology, refugee aid, and speech communication. She has worked primarily as a teacher of languages, public speaking, linguistics, and music. She lives in Massachusetts with her two children. Elissa's Quest is her first book for children.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Read an Excerpt

Prologue

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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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 23 )
Rating Distribution

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(3)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 23 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2008

    Elissa's Quest

    Elissa's Quest has everything I like in a fantasy - a strong appealing heroine, lots of adventure, magic - of course!- , a prophecy, and, as a bonus, talking animals. In this book, Elissa, an orphan raised by a somewhat frightening old midwife known as Nana, discovers the secret of her birth. One day she's just a humble peasant, who happens to be able to talk to animals, and the next she is thrust into a world of intrigue, betrayal and war. She doesn't wilt under the pressure, but simply takes everything in stride. More than that, she manages to overcome the evil Khan all by herself, with just a little help from the mysterious white-robed Ankaa. I think that what this book has that most other fantasies lack is depth. Elissa isn't just seeking the fulfillment of the prophecy, or the family she never had, she is looking for herself. This is the age-old quest of young people on the cusp of adulthood the world over, and Elissa comes of age in a way that is admirable. It is clear that Verrillo really understands the needs and conflicts of young teens. This dose of realism places Elissa's Quest a cut above the rest. I would highly recommend this book to middle school teachers and parents who are looking for an enjoyable book that is also safe - no violence or sex - has an inspiring message and is beautifully written.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2008

    Best story I've read in years!

    Eliss'a Quest is a marvel...you'll find yourself instantly and delightfully immersed in a wondrous world that is described so precisely that you will know and feel Ellisa's world as intimately as she does.. Verrillo's almost musical pacing quickens with every well- turned phrase towards an ending that is immenesly satisfying yet leaves you deliciously wanting more... This a book for the ages - young ages, older ages, and for time immemorial as a gift with priceless lessons about our universal strengths as humans. There is no better time for such lessons to be imparted,, particularly for those of us coming of age, in a period in human history where so much is at stake. Read this book for all that, but also read it if you wish to someday be as good a writer as Verrillo.obviously is. I will be a better writer for having read Ellisa's Quest.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2008

    Elissa's Quest

    What a wonderful fantasy! Word for word, I enjoyed Elissa's Quest every bit as much as the Harry Potter books. Maybe even more. I liked having a female main character, especially one as feisty and independent as Elissa. She's clever and strong, but still manages to be sweet and lovable. The book is set up as a bit of a mystery, which I really liked. Who are the Ankaa, and what do they have to do with Om Chai's prophecy? Will Elissa ever find her father? Why are Elissa's magical powers increasing? Is the earth dying, and will Elissa be able to save it? I imagine all these questions will be answered in the next book. But in the meantime, I really liked the fact that the author left me with a riddle to figure out. Verrillo is an unusually thoughtful writer, and I suspect the book has an underlying message. But she doesn't hit you over the head with it, or sacrifice a bit of excitement--or humor. This is a book anybody can read and appreciate. Highly recommended!

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 28, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Marta Morrison for TeensReadToo.com

    After reading ELISSA'S QUEST, I am looking forward to the next installment of the PHOENIX RISING trilogy. <BR/><BR/>Elissa is thirteen years old and lives with the midwife in the village of High Crossing. Her caretaker doesn't speak to Elissa about her parentage and so Elissa grows up lonely. Her only friends are the animals around the valley, because she has the gift of understanding their language. Her best friend is Gertrude, the donkey. <BR/><BR/>One day a royal contingent arrives and Elissa learns that she is a princess and she is to go with her father on a quest. On this mission she is abducted, treated like a princess, makes friends, makes enemies, and finally saves the world. <BR/><BR/>Throughout the quest she learns many lessons of loyalty, family, identity, and power. Elissa is a strong female character. She thinks for herself and is very independent. She takes risks but is still sensitive enough to be vulnerable. This is a classic fantasy tale with a quest and a strong heroine. <BR/><BR/>I thoroughly enjoyed this story and recommend it to all.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 5, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    My All-Time Favorite!!!

    Elissa's Quest is at the top of my all-time favorite list. Elissa is a wonderful heroine - she's smart, she's funny and she is not afraid of anything. (And she has those fantastic green eyes.) Her sidekick, Maya, is cute and funny. But the fact that Elissa can talk to animals is what makes her my dream fantasy heroine. (I think we'd all like to know what our cat is thinking when she gives us that special look.) This book is funny, has a great plot, and doesn't ever make me want to skip pages. Everybody needs to read it.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2007

    A reviewer

    Here is a story with mystery, magic, danger, humor, and strong female characters! Women are portrayed as powerful, valuable members of their communities. Kindness, cooperation and respect win battles. Young Elissa learns her true identity, becomes a woman, and discovers her inner wisdom, all while experiencing and sometimes enduring the adventures brought to her by fate: kidnapping, escape, talking camels ... This book would be a terrific gift for young girls around 11-13, especially for those who love animals and ecology. I eagerly await the next book in the trilogy!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 12, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    A Heroine for Our Times

    I originally bought this book for my daughter as her first chapter book. She adored Elissa and all her friends, and so did I! The book is smart, funny, absorbing, but above all Elissa is the kind of role model I want for my daughter. She is brave, intelligent, clever and is not afraid to speak her mind. Even when she is under enormous pressure to cave in, she never loses her sense of who she is. And she never gets her hands dirty. (I really appreciated the lack of violence in this book.) I wish I had had a heroine like this when I was growing up! I strongly recommend this book to all mothers, to all their daughters, and to anyone who would like the up-and-coming generation to care for their planet and the people who live on it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 12, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    Elissa Rules!

    I loved this book so much, I got all my friends to read it. We all have our favorite characters, but everyone loves Elissa. She's perfect! The animals were all funny, and the story was exciting. When Elissa and Maya had to escape across the desert I felt like I was THERE. As a bad guy, the Khan was truly disgusting ("A giant, floating pig"). And the Blue People were amazing. This is my absolute favorite fantasy. (Including the second book, Elissa's Odyssey, which is also fantastic.)

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2008

    wow

    This book is amazing. There are so many hidden secrets that can't wait to be uncovered in Verrillo's next books in the series.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2007

    Courtesy of Teens Read Too

    After reading ELISSA'S QUEST, I am looking forward to the next installment of the PHOENIX RISING trilogy. Elissa is thirteen years old and lives with the midwife in the village of High Crossing. Her caretaker doesn't speak to Elissa about her parentage and so Elissa grows up lonely. Her only friends are the animals around the valley, because she has the gift of understanding their language. Her best friend is Gertrude, the donkey. One day a royal contingent arrives and Elissa learns that she is a princess and she is to go with her father on a quest. On this mission she is abducted, treated like a princess, makes friends, makes enemies, and finally saves the world. Throughout the quest she learns many lessons of loyalty, family, identity, and power. Elissa is a strong female character. She thinks for herself and is very independent. She takes risks but is still sensitive enough to be vulnerable. This is a classic fantasy tale with a quest and a strong heroine. I thoroughly enjoyed this story and recommend it to all. **Reviewed by: Marta Morrison

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 19, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    Best Fantasy for Tweens

    In my opinion, this is the best fantasy written for tweens. Tweens don't get much in the way of novels written just for them. They either have to read books written for younger children, which are too easy, or for teens, which are often full of sex and violence. For girls going through those early teen years Elissa is the ideal heroine. She is strong (but not violent), pretty, brave and can stand up to pressure. She's also very endearing. Her grumpy sidekick, Gertrude the donkey, provides comic relief, as does Ralph the camel - who develops a "thing" for Gertrude. Elissa's escape across the desert with her friend, Maya, is memorable. And the final showdown at the oasis between Elissa and the entire army of the Khan is exciting, tense, and resolved in a clever way. I'd recommend this book for parents looking for a safe adventure/fantasy for their middle-schooler. She will love it! Guaranteed!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2014

    Great read

    Last summer i read the whole series and i couldnt resist reading this seris

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2014

    Elissa read by Elissa

    Originally I only read this book because of the title. Elissa isnt a common name and I thought I might as well give it a whirl. This book ended up being one of my favorites. The story takes you through the aging of a young girl thrown into the world of royal legacy. Watching this small town girl develope into a strong woman is remarkable; I recommend it highly.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2012

    Great!!

    I enjoyed Elissa all the way through and loved the characters!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 4, 2008

    My opinion

    This book is very cohesive and flows quite well, but the plot has some slight incongruencies that detriment the whole piece. However I am looking forward to the next book, and I do recommend reading this work.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted March 16, 2012

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    Posted October 26, 2008

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    Posted September 1, 2009

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    Posted October 16, 2010

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    Posted October 14, 2008

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