Twelve-and-a-half-year-old Acanthus Breese and his yellow-robed peers have survived without an adult presence for seven years. They've scavenged. Endured madness, starvation, and murder after the adults imprisoned and abandoned them without a backward glance. They've clawed their way to civilization and questionable sanity at the guidance of one of their own.
Thirteen-year-old Edward Dasheel is a direct descendant of the goddess Staritti and the red phoenix god, Dasheel. Because of Edward's love and leadership, Acanthus and the other boys know that despite their regretful crime of harming Staritti and driving her away, hope for redemption remains.
Acanthus knows Edward better than anyone; he knows Edward hides dark secrets about their exile, the adults, and specifically about him. So it is terrifying when suddenly the adults return, pushing themselves back into their lives. What do they want after all these years? And why?
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FiveStars Epic book is epic. Like, this is Lord of the Rings level, or Hunger Games (lots of little children dying) or something so creative and detailed and layered. World building is hard. Jeanne Marcella knows what she's doing. Little details and big moments matter so much, and at the center of it all is Acanthus, a rather immature 12 year old, but his development's been stunted by living in horror and captivity for as long as he can remember. His only lifeline is Edward, his Promise, who cares for him and protects all the abandoned children, "the Regrets," as best he can, while being the interface with the adult world, which is ominous and distant. This book is about wizards, and there's all different types, with different heritages, and different powers, and there's an awesome giant, and cat people, and the world is just so awesome. Only great talent can create a world like this. And then to fill it in with a plot full of despair and madness and war... It's just great. And it's a FUN book. There's lots of daring adventure and mystery, along with the tragic. Anyone who follows my reviews know I like the strikingly different/weird, so read the first chapter online to see if your desires match mine. Also all these little boys are in love, which manages not to be creepy FOR ME. Adolescent approaches. Some quibbles. This is a very long book. A very, very long book. A defter editing hand might have cut this in half. It ambles along. There's not much fluff, I admit, each scene has a purpose. But still. So long. The scourge of self-publishing remains evident. Also some things don't actually make sense. But there's a glossary in the back which is very helpful! Also, spoiler, the villain is kind of lame. So much attention is given to the heroes' backstories, and yet the villain is "He sucks, he wants power, he so crazy." However, the greater backstory with the greater villains, who lurk and attack, is more deeply interesting. I wonder if Staritti herself is on the side of good or evil. I hope to find out in the next book. I was given this in return for an honest review by Inked Rainbow Reads. C.E. Case
4 1/2 Hearts 2nd Edition reviewed by Pixie Acanthus is a twelve and a half year old boy, he and his fellow yellow robes have spent the last seven years isolated and fending for themselves, they have faced starvation, murder and madness all for the crime of harming Staritti (their Goddess) and driving her away. Edward is thirteen and the leader of the yellow robes, he has the task of moulding the yellow robes into young men who fight for redemption, guiding them on a path that only he knows. Acanthus is Edward’s Promised, it’s only with Edward’s aid that he has survived but the madness draws him closer tempting him to just give up on surviving. Well, this is an epic story where it’s shrouded in mystery and secrets, we are left in the dark for a large part of the story and even as clues are dropped we are still left with the feeling that there is still more to be revealed. When I first started reading this story I was confused as to what was going on, going into a story completely cold with no hints as to the society and no explanation except for the clues you pick up along the way was a pain. It wasn’t until I’d read the entire story and was flicking down to the last page that I found the Appendix/Glossary which would have been very helpful at the beginning of the book… I’m sorry what, spoilers? Who gives a crap about spoilers! In most stories we have the main characters describing the society we find ourselves in but when our main character is a child who doesn’t have a clue of the world he lives in except for the isolated one he has endured for the last seven years then yeah we need that Glossary whether it contains spoilers or not! So on to the actual story, we have a bunch of children who were basically dumped by the adults in a warded area, the children (they were five years old when first dumped) have had to survive by themselves, starvation, murder and madness chased them through the first years and they have now created a community for themselves, they fear the adults who whenever things seem to be going smoothly will raid the children’s area stealing items, food and even children and the children can do nothing to stop it…. All I could ask myself was why? Why would the adults do this? What could these children possible have done to deserve this treatment? And when you do find out all you want to do is hunt down the adults who came up with it and skin them alive. Acanthus and Edward might be a Promised pair but Edward has kept secrets from them all, he’s protected Acanthus as much as he’d been able to and he has helped shape all the yellow robes into a workable society, but now as they reach maturity the adults are interfering and Edward has no way to aid them. We see most of this story from Acanthus point of view, with a couple of instances from others so while we begin to learn that not everything is as it seems we are still left in the dark for most of the book. The way that the yellow robes are portrayed is wonderfully done, a mix of child/adult behaviour that shows how they have developed by themselves, the fear they have of the adults (who seem to have terrified the yellow robes for years) and the friendships and relationships that have developed between the boys. We meet many interesting characters and we learn a bit of what is going on in the adult society but we are still left with the knowledge that we are still missing half of what is going on, I have to suspect that the missing half will be revealed in later books. Acanthus is very different from Edward, where Edward has a maturity beyond his years Acanthus is still maturing in that regard and we do see some of that maturing when he has no choice but to step up and be responsible even while he is fighting his fear and insecurity. So overall I loved this book, (even with the struggle of understanding what was going on at first), we have a fierce developing love between two children/young adults, we have mystery and fantasy, we have brilliant characters, and we have secrets and plots and the longing for more of this series. This is a book for those who love dark gritty fantasy, young adults reaching maturity, a storyline that only reveals what it must and a fascination for new fantasy worlds.