Catling’s Bane is the first book in the Rose Shield tetralogy by a beloved blogger/author D. Wallace Peach. The captivating story is woven with the perfect balance of all the elements that only a skilled writer and a masterful storyteller is able to achieve. There is excitement bubbling in me even as I am typing up this post. So, here goes my first book review…(I promise to do my best to exclude spoilers.)
A quick synopsis:
The story begins in Mur-Vallis, a city in Ellegeance. All its three moons are absent, leaving the city pitch black. A child’s cries is heard amidst the sounds of women squabbling. We meet Catling, the little girl with a mark around her eye that resembles the shape of a rose. We learn of her mother’s horrific attempt at removing the mark, one she is convinced will shackle them to the lowest of lives.
Mur-Vallis, like the other cities in Ellegeance, is tiered in both its physical and social structures. A caste system as rigid as its indestructible structure, its poorest live in the squalid warrens while the upper class and the powerful tower over them in the higher tiers. Public hangings of men, women and children are frequently held ; Far-Landers, the original occupants of Ellegeance, a constant target. These are made possible by the Influencers who, true to their name, are skilled in manipulating people’s feelings to suit their political agendas. Robbed of true emotions, we see hanging victims willingly submit to the noose and the crowds celebrating the cruel deeds. No one is immune to the Influencers’s control, except for Catling. The rose mark around her eye provides a shield against their magical prowess. Her ability seems increasingly more like a curse than a gift as she finds her life in constant peril. The question is how will she choose to wield her ability? Would she even have a choice?
“Don’t trust anyone. We’re all influencers one way or another, aren’t we?” – Farrow
“No one likes their emotions manipulated. Even for a just cause.” – Qeyon
If you are acquainted with Diana’s blog, you would have already known that she is an incredible writer (and human being). If you haven’t, hop on over. As prolific as she is versatile, Diana writes and excels in them all – prose, poems, shorts stories and even children stories. Writing novels, though, I feel, require a different set of skills than writing shorter blog posts- think running short distance vs. long distance . But boy…does she kill it!
Catling’s Bain is a fantasy intricately threaded with the oh-so-relatable complexity of human nature and reality. Some of its characters possess magical powers (you’ll even encounter water dragons) but they are living in a world steeped in brutality, injustice and manipulations. It carefully explores pertinent issues such as class system as we see the poor stuck on destitute while the powerful engage in dirty politics to maintain control. There is also the matter of free-will,or rather the lack of it, thanks to the Influencers’ ability to manipulate people’s emotions.
The book also highlights the clear, fluid beauty of Diana’s writing style. It treats the imagination to gorgeous,vivid details of an enchanting world while maintaining a well-paced and exciting story that will keep you fully engrossed. There will be plenty of surprises but you will be spared the obstacles of tedious,unnecessary details and meaningless, bombastic words. Added to that wonderful combination are solid characters, all deliciously flawed and vulnerable, including Catling, herself. They will become your friends and enemies, switching places at times along the way. Some will even linger in your consciousness long after the last page. A warning – don’t get too attached.
As I cherish each heartbreaking and heartwarming moment in Catling’s Bane, I can’t help but wonder about Catling’s destiny. According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, Catling means a “little kitten” or a “double-edged pointed knife used in amputations”. What does Diana have in mind for her main character and for Ellegeance? Will Catling be a force to bring much needed changes to Ellegeance? Or will she succumb to hatred, revenge and corruption? I know for sure that I will be savoring the next three books in the series and I’ll be sad when I reach the end. Be sure to give this book a read!!!
Feel free to share your thoughts if you have read the book/series. Also, I would love to hear if there is anything I can do to improve the review. 🙂 Have a beautiful and blessed week ahead.