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The Root: A Novel of the Wrath & Athenaeum Paperback – June 7, 2016
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Charlie Jane Anders, author of All the Birds in the Sky
An intense, emotional ride that combines libraries, monsters, fallen angels, magical powers, and secret societies fighting an ancient war. This is catnip for my reading soul.”
Kate Elliott, author of Cold Magic and Black Wolves
The Root is a grandiose feat of imagination and cross-dimensional storytelling . . . a story that’s firmly rooted in human drama, exploring themes such as the nature of race, celebrity, the media and society’s perceptions of sexual orientation, gender and class division . . . Tilahun has laid the foundations for a very promising trilogy.”
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Top Customer Reviews
NOT recommended if you're looking for paranormal romance or a plotline that wraps everything up in a single book. There's certainly attraction between some of the characters, but romance is not the point of the plot and there's no guarantee of HEA for anyone.
*Really fascinating, fresh, and original worldbuilding, both for how magic works in the world we know (Chapters headed with San Francisco) and the entirety of the other world (Chapters headed with Zebub).
*Characters that come alive on the page, and who you can love and root for, flaws and all.
*Antagonists with believable motivations, even though the deeper aspects of what they want to achieve are still hidden.
*Fast pacing, with just enough explanation of the world and magic to keep the reader from getting lost.
*The non-humans are delightfully alien and original, both in form and in culture.
*There were a few scenes where I got confused as to who was talking or who the names on the page referred to, but flipping back a few pages to get my bearings again was more of a pleasure than an inconvenience.
*Reading on Kindle, I didn't realize the book was almost over! I stopped reading for the night at what seemed like a natural break point, and picked it up the next day to discover that there were only a few more pages of positioning the characters for the next book before it was over. This is why I call it "Epic" urban fantasy. It reads like a (really extraordinary) urban fantasy, but ends more like an installment of the "A Song of Fire and Ice" or "Wheel of Time" series. (Or Fifth Season, another fantasy novel I'm waiting eagerly for the sequel to.) The author picked a good place to end this book, but I can't wait for the next one to come out so I can find out what happens next!
There is so much lush detail and chewy ideas all crammed into this first novel in a trilogy. I have no idea how the author is going to manage to top this book -- but I feel certain that he will, and I can't wait for it to come out, so I can find out what happens next.
Two main protagonists, one in San Francisco in our world and another in the city of Zebub on another world, never quite meet, though they seem likely to in the next book, which I eagerly await! Nevertheless, I wound up caring a lot about both them.
This is a book to devour and an author to watch.
Honestly, I was there to fangirl over Victoria Schwab, but I left being very excited by all the authors' books. Afterwards, there was a book signing, and I wound up getting The Root, A Gathering Of Shadows (V.E. Schwab), and A Natural History Of Dragons (Marie Brennan). I have finally had time to sit down and read the first of these books, The Root, and it is a fun, diverse, fantasy with parallel universes, secret organizations, and creepy creatures!
What I liked:
It was refreshing to read a book populated with so much diversity. There are gay characters, straight characters, people who are transgendered, and a rainbow of ethnicities. Living in the Bay Area where part of the book is set, I can tell you that this is not political correctness, this IS San Francisco. I also loved that they were fully-fleshed individuals with many aspects to their personas. Their gender, sexual preference, or ethnicity was not the only distinguishing characteristic. They were not treated as tokens, but as people!
I have to use the plural because there are two different universes in this book: Zebub and Earth. There are supposed to be mirrors of each other (or perhaps distant futures...). I didn't really see the similarities, but I did enjoy how unusual and exotic Zebub was from San Francisco. In Zebub, there are eleven courts and their palaces are called Hives. Each court seems to have a specific emphasis (The Court of Sorrow and Riches, The Court of Pain and Solitude etc.) and each palace is filled with eye-catching details such as special rooms or wall that are alive! When the action bounces to San Francisco, the author uses creepy industrial complexes and the towering skyscrapers of the Financial District to menacing effect.
I loved how creative Na'amen Tilahun got with the various creatures that populated Zebub. I can't fully describe many of them, but let's just say many don't resemble humans at all. I often think about this when I read books that are set on other planets or universes: why would the life-forms look anything like humans? Some of the creatures are gases, or collections of objects, others do look like animals we would recognize such as dragons, or giant insects. This was so well done in this book!
What I was mixed about:
The author obviously has a fertile imagination and a need to describe everything to the reader. But I found it confusing to keep track of the various factions, alliances, courts, and names (some of which were so similar, I was frustrated).
Perhaps a glossary at the end of the book would have been helpful to help me sort out who was who. So much was going on that did need explanations. But I think some of the details would have been better expressed on a need to know basis. It would have made for a faster-paced book.
Overall, there is so much to recommend in this novel: great characters, new worlds, alliances and betrayals... The end was a cliffhanger so I hope that the next book comes out soon. I will be eager to read it.