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The Burning Land

(Way of Ârata #1)

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  85 ratings  ·  26 reviews
A sweeping tale of magic, oppression, danger, love, temptation, and revelation.

After long years of oppression, the rightful rulers of Arsace have finally reclaimed the holy city of Baushpar and the First Temple of Ârata. At last, the desecrated shrines can be rebuilt and the people’s suffering redressed. But tensions between the secular and sacred worlds abound, and rumors
Mass Market Paperback, 560 pages
Published 2006 by Voyager (first published January 20th 2004)
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3.75  · 
Rating details
 ·  85 ratings  ·  26 reviews

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Althea Ann
Here, we enter a fantasy world that's clearly inspired by the real-life situation involving Tibet and China. The Âratists have recently come back into control over their land, after the fall of the previous regime. (Which was one that was fueled by a populist revolution, set up communal methods of doing agriculture and industry, was strongly atheist, but quickly became authoritarian and oppressive.)

Brother Gyalo is a devout Âratist monk. He is also a Shaper - a wielder of magic. Shapers are both
Sep 21, 2009 rated it it was ok
This started out like some good, interesting fantasy even if I did wince at the prologue (I hate prologues! They are info-dumps when you don't even know anything about the story. I think prologues are laziness on the writer's part) and I did find that the story dragged along at times and that most of the time, the reader was well ahead of the book's events but hey, a lot of fantasy is predictable, if only because it often relies on common tropes and archetypes, so I can deal with that if the boo ...more
Steven Poore
Mar 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
A very different and thoughtful epic – epic in the sense that these are grand themes of faith, the existence of gods, the interpretation of doctrines, and earth-shattering schisms. Strauss sets up her pieces slowly and deliberately, and gives us the opportunity to see the approaching storm from both sides, both of which is “right”, and neither of which is “wrong”. Her characters are driven by internal desperation and soul searching as much as external events, their own revelations and conclusion ...more

3 stars

After eighty years of atheist government, the church of Arata is slowly recovering its traditional place. Talented and powerful young monk Gyalo is sent to investigate rumours of an uncontrolled community far across the desert Burning Land, only to uncover truths about himself and his world that shake the foundation of his faith.

I first encountered Strauss' writing many years ago via her Arm of the Stone books, which I enjoyed, and which brought me to this duology
Feb 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I read the synopsis and then began reading the book itself, I was reminded of the kinds of stories that N.K. Jemisin is known for. That made me a little skeptical as to whether or not I would enjoy the book, since the two N.K. Jemisin books I’ve read were a bit boring to me. I don’t know how Victoria Strauss did it, but, with the exception of a couple slow points, her writing, story craft, and world building kept me engaged throughout the book. Also, towards the beginning of the book there ...more
Jun 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Excellent examination of religion and the conflict that can arise from fractionally differing beliefs. Well-plotted, with well-developed characters.
Lis Carey
Mar 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the start of a fantasy series. It's a good setup, and it stands on its own well enough, with satisfying resolutions to some important threads.

The kingdom of Arsace has restored its king in exile to the throne, after decades of harsh rule by godless tyrants. They're free once again to worship their beloved god Arata, and publicly celebrate their religious ceremonies. But just a few years have passed, and there's still much rebuilding to do, and one of the outstanding issues concerns reneg
Feb 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, my-reviews
Like another review that I recently saw on Goodreads, I originally thought that Victoria Strauss was re-creating Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism in a fantasy context. There were indeed some parallels, but there were also some key differences. The first one I noticed is that Strauss' fictional religion, Aratism, is messianic. It's a central tenet of Buddhism that anyone can become a Buddha. There are Bodhisattvas who strive to awaken others to their Buddha nature, but each Buddhist is actually still t ...more
March 27, 2015
Such an excellent read.

Likes: The world-building in this book was so fantastic, I felt fully immersed in the world Strauss created. I thought a lot about the book when I wasn't reading it, and read it whenever I got the chance. The characters were each realistic in their personalities and flaws. They behaved like human beings would in the world she created, not just the way the plot needed. Usually the villains in fantasy books are so one dimensional or just psychotic, but I can'
Janet Ursel
Mar 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When you pick up a work of fantasy, you expect many things. You expect to find some magic, some adventure, an interesting new world. And Victoria Strauss's The Burning Land certainly delivers all of that. But it goes well beyond. I have rarely read a novel that examines the nature of faith more deeply and more intimately than The Burning Land. Strauss has created a fully realized and realistic religious system that borrows elements from several of the world's religions, complete with hierarchies ...more
Toni Boughton
Now THIS is fantasy at its best! Ms. Strauss brings together a cast of disparate characters, each with their own unique voice, in a wonderfully realized world. At the heart of the book is the question of how faith is handled when challenged, and what happens to an entrenched religion when faced with proof that rocks it to its very core. As an added bonus, this novel is free of the usual vaguely-medieval-European trappings and instead has touches of Asian and Middle Eastern - this alone makes for ...more
May 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebooks, 2015
Disclaimer: I received an eARC of this book through netgalley in exchange for this review.

Victoria Strauss’s The Burning Lands is book one of a two book series on what it means to have faith, influence the corse of humanity, and love. In this book we are introduced to two societies: one who harnesses the uses of Shaping (the magical system employed in this series) and allows those who own it to be free from restraint and another who carefully uses the Shapers to craft a religious tradition built
The reputation of the Burning Land as a place that has no sustaining resources, and that kills everyone who enters it, was too easily thrust aside once the expedition entered the lands. It made sense that most people wouldn’t be aware of the hidden resources of the desert, but for a while it came across as “everyone who enters this land dies… except that much of it is actually really easy to survive.” I expected at least a little bit of difficulty as they entered the area. That said, the Burning ...more
A Reader's Heaven
(I received a free copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.)

A realm long held in the iron grasp of godless tyrants, Arsace is finally free to worship its beloved, once-outlawed deity, Ârata. But decades of cruelty and oppression have left their mark—evidenced not only by the desecrated Âratist temples throughout the holy city of Baushpar but by the widespread mistrust and suspicion that has lately fallen on the Shapers, the powerful mages whose magic is beholden to no
Fred Phillips
Mar 11, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
When Victoria Strauss’ debut novel “The Arm of the Stone” came out, I was impressed.

I continued to enjoy her work through the sequel “Garden of the Stone” and the first book of her second series, “The Burning Land.” A recent re-release of “The Burning Land” ($7.99, Open Road Media) gave me the chance to revisit Strauss’ work.

I initially reviewed “The Burning Land” when it was released in 2004, and I said then that it started slow. Almost 11 years later, as I revisit it, that seems quite the unde
Před začtením se jsem se (po přečtení pár recenzí) obávala, že ta kniha bude fakt strašná. Nakonec tak příšerná nebyla, po zhltnutí prvních pár desítek stran mě docela bavila, s postupem času ale nastalo zhoršení...

Zezačátku se příběh zdál zajímavý - fantasy svět s vlastním náboženstvím, díky němuž někteří lidé získali zvláštní schopnosti. Fajn, to zní docela dobře. Jenže postupem toho náboženství přibývá. Je ho hodně. Fakt hodně. Koneckonců, na tom je taky celá kniha založena. I když příběh sam
May 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fantasy that will take you into a world that has been godless for several long years. Even though the people can now worship their gods, they are scare and suspicious. The main characters are so well written that they are compelling. It is an action packed adventure with a world that has magic, hidden romance and secrets. This a thought provoking novel you don't want to miss!

Disclaimer: I received an arc of this book free from the author/publisher from Netgalley. I was not obliged to write a f
Alysa H.
Mar 13, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, abandoned
I have been trying for quite a while with this book. It is very well written — as I expected after having read and enjoyed 2 other books by author Victoria Strauss — but I was expecting a fantasy book with religious themes, and this really more of a religious book about religion, couched in the trappings of fantasy. This is just not at all interesting to me. Too bored to continue, I am giving up.

** I received a Review Copy of this book via NetGalley **
(2015 Open Road Media edition)
Jul 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I reviewed this book for NetGalley.

Ms. Strauss creates a rich and colorful fantasy world with the strong underlying theme of religion. This is very thought-provoking, which good literature should be.

I enjoyed reading the novel and following the different viewpoints of religion in the book. An interesting and different take on fantasy.
Jun 25, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a series that is a good mix of fantasy and science fiction. It's a shame that politics and religion haven't changed much in this version of the future. Well written so there is turmoil and hope going into book 2. I've never read this author before and she seems to have a nice style and vision.
Sep 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
An engrossing read, with just a couple of slow parts. Intriguing characters, excellent world building. Will continue with the series.
Rebecca McNutt
Not bad, but if you haven't read it, you aren't missing much. It wasn't very original, and the characters were hard to care about at all.
Not interesting enough... may come back to it. Seems a complex, savoring book. I am way short on time to savor books.
Alice Sabo
Dec 09, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy-read
Oops, I read this already. However, I didn't love it enough to read it again.
rated it really liked it
Oct 07, 2012
Craig Newmark
rated it liked it
Jun 10, 2014
rated it really liked it
Oct 01, 2015
Rebecca Murdock
rated it it was amazing
Dec 19, 2015
Rachel Sailor
rated it really liked it
Oct 25, 2017
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I'm the author of nine novels for adults and young adults, including the Stone duology ("The Arm of the Stone" and "The Garden of the Stone"); the Way of Arata duology ("The Burning Land" and "The Awakened City"); and "Passion Blue" and "Color Song," a pair of historical novels for teens. I've reviewed books for SF Site, Black Gate, and Fantasy magazine, and my articles on writing and how to get p ...more

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Way of Ârata (2 books)
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