Drawn by the medley of its influences and its vibrant setting, I plunged right into Cradle of Sea and Soil by Bernie Anés Paz. This book is currently free on Amazon.co.uk Kindle Unlimited.
|Series: Islandborn #1||Genre: Epic fantasy|
|Date of Publishing: June 23, 2020||Publisher: Self-Published|
The Primordial Wound has festered with corruption since the birth of the world. The island tribes have warred against its spawn for just as long—and they are losing.
Burdened by the same spiritual affliction that drove the first Halfborn insane, Colibrí lives in exile with little more than her warrior oaths and her son. But when Colibrí discovers corrupted land hidden away by sorcery, those same oaths drive her to find answers in an effort to protect the very people who fear her.
Narune dreams of earning enough glory to show that he and his mother Colibrí are nothing like the Halfborn that came before them. Becoming a mystic will give him the strength he needs, but first, Narune will need to prove himself worthy in a trial of skill and honor.
Together, Colibrí and Narune must learn to become the champions their people need—and face the curse threatening to scour away their spirits with fury.
“Because what you deem as nature is merely an ocean of Creation, one that is also the spirit of every land; instinct binds it in the same way instinct binds all that comprises it.”
I absolutely love stories that explore the rich cultural heritage of tribalism.
Westernization and colonization have, in the past, made fantasy a genre heavily guarded by the medieval feudalism of, mainly, West European cultures.
Yet all guardians are meant to fall eventually, taken away from their position of power by the diversity with which life rules itself.
Cradle of Sea and Soil is a story that celebrates such diversity.
Embracing inspirations from Puerto Rican, Japanese, Caribbean, Latin American, West African, Taino, and Pacific Islander cultures, histories, and myths, it creates a fictional fantasy tale of magic that remains modernly real and traditional.
A story that speaks the heart of heritage with such mesmerizing worldbuilding will always be dear to me.
Coquí, chicha, cacica, bohío, these and many more concepts flowing through the story and giving it its authenticity were unknown to me, due to my unfamiliarity with the cultures who birthed them.
I love a book that will simultaneously let me lose myself in a story and demand I further my knowledge beyond it.
Its enchanting soul goes beyond even the chupacabra, the feathered serpents, the tree-lords that make up the rainforest that acts as a backdrop for our main characters’ life-threatening adventures, the sea-side village they were cast out from, and the many other fantasy elements that are a triumphant salute to its many, striking inspirations.
Amongst a rainforest that demands a fight for survival, giant wasps with stingers the size of a spear, meaningful coming-of-age rituals involving body paint, coral that glows when feeding being used as lamps, and beings made of soil and sea that highlight fascinating beliefs and myths of our real world, lies the heart of what makes fantasy one of my most treasured fictional genres.
What makes this story such a fascinating journey is the vivid exploration of a world that plunges us into the unimaginable and unknown, while still anchoring us to the magic of the here and now.
In Cradle of Sea and Soil, the unknown takes the form of the Stillness, a void creeping across the island’s rainforest, which renders its guardians powerless and creates hollow creatures and lifeless patches of land. The source of life called Creation is marred by this corruption, spread from what is known as The Primordial Wound.
Paz really knows how to bring a scene to life with mysticism and magic, elements that make fantasy such an enjoyable genre.
Think sorcerers flying through the air within magical orbs, wielding Flowing Blades. Think monumental mystical creatures. That’s only a sample of the suspenseful, wonder-inducing ways this book uses its magical elements.
The magic system revolves around the concept of Flow, a source of life and magic that can be manipulated in different ways by different people. This eventually leads to some really cool magic fights!
Our main characters, Narune and Colibrí, a mother and son duo, do more than persist against the danger surrounding them. They add an entirely refreshing facet to a world that is already an entirely new, plentiful experience.
I haven’t read many stories with a parent-child duo as POV characters, but I keep being drawn to the ones I managed to come across.
They allow for this juxtaposition of a coming-of-age story and a more seasoned life path that, despite the age difference, still share many insecurities and mistakes that show us that uncertainty is never far away, no matter your accumulated life experience.
Narune’s dreams of becoming a spiritseer for the village that exiled him and his mother clash and swirl together with Colibrí’s own hunt for the reason behind the corruption plaguing their land.
Cast away for being Halfborn, part human, part nature (Narune and Colibrí have coyote phenotypes, while Narune’s friend, Kisari, shares her phenotype with plants), they must come together and apart.
I loved many things about this story, but some of my favorites were the gracious introduction of LGBTQ+ elements (Colibrí is bisexual, or at least has relationships with more than one gender; Narune’s other friend, Ixchel, has two fathers), the wild chases across huge root-roads, the wondrous mythical influences, and the considerations of family and consent that make this story stand out in a genre that can make it difficult to do so.
For anyone skeptic of the boundless heights self-published fantasy can reach, it’s books like Cradle of Sea and Soil that shatter doubts and teach us that all stories are worth taking a chance on.