The Banished Craft by E. D. E. Bell

When I first began reading this book I was somewhat confused, as I couldn’t tell the characters’ “worlds” apart when each chapter or section changed perspective. In a universe this expansive and unique it takes some time to sketch out the bones of the world. But as I got about halfway through I finally understood and was able to really enjoy the work put into creating it.

There is solid and reasonable world crafting here. I really admire the thought Bell has put into writing this fantasy about a world that was once one, that a cataclysm has torn in two. One world has dragons and the other humans. They both have stories about the existence of the other, but they dismiss the absent species as fiction. In each, there are indifferent and destructive rulers whose oppressive policies and taxes cause their citizens grief.

In the human world, women are not respected or allowed to study or even live independently. The dragons are all forced to work for their ruler and her terrible enforcer who is violent and out of control.

These two worlds are becoming more and more unstable and something needs to happen soon or they both will crumble out of existence. This volume explains all the forces that are tearing the worlds apart and the characters whose actions will determine the outcome. I assume the next will be easier to navigate as we now have the basic premise explained and we can move on to fixing the problem. I’m looking forward to reading the second story, The Unfettered Flame.

I received this ebook in return for my unbiased review.


The Fettered Flame by E. D. E. Bell

The second volume of the Shkode Books was definitely easier to follow than the first. Probably because the central ideas were already established and we know all the characters now. They are fleshed out in this book, and we aren’t struggling to follow along.

In this volume, our main characters are dealing with conflict and the destruction of life as they know it. The worlds of humans and dragons have been split in two, as explained in the analogy of splitting a sheet of paper, not cut in half, but literally splitting the sheet in two, leaving two thin, but same sized worlds. They are fragile and are beginning to tear. Places even disappear as the structure of the universe and time rip apart.

Our heroes, mainly the non-violent, vegan Cor, who has discovered her legacy of magic, handed down by her deceased parents, and has joined up with Atesh, a scientist dragon who has crossed the barrier of worlds to join with Cor, are trying to find a way to heal the worlds. They both see the benefits of the plant, ha, which allows them to communicate with a mysterious “voice” that is trying to get them to understand how to heal and possibly put the worlds back together.

There is violence happening in both societies, on the dragon side mostly because the Emperess Zee has a murderous second in command called Dronna. In human society, the disparity between the haves and have nots, and the government that enforces a strict society’s rules and the different groups who have formed to oppose them, have resulted in the destruction of the University where Cor used to learn (without permission) and the Capitol. President Greg King is being defied by his General Stone, who prefers a more aggressive response to the OLS group that caused all the destruction in the resistance to the Unified Government. The human society doesn’t allow women to live unencumbered lives and gay individuals are deep undercover. Dragons settle differences violently and live in fear of their ruler.

Only a few people realize that while society is being ripped apart, the world is not going to be there for them to put it back together. I am looking forward to the last volume to see what will happen.

I was given a free ebook in return for my unbiased review.