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Shkode #1

The Banished Craft

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A world, split into two. Dragons. Humans. Each believe the other is a myth. In a world where women are not allowed to read, live alone, or pursue knowledge, Cor comes across a secret society who predicted the devastation that humankind can no longer ignore. A world away, Atesh studies a mysterious plant, determined to discover what is destroying his home and dragonkind with it. Cor and Atesh must each decide – what will they sacrifice to give their world a chance to survive?

A quirky and modern take on dragons and wizards, The Banished Craft begins the genre-bending Shkode fantasy trilogy about a split world, exploring themes of identity, prejudice, violence, compassion, and the ways we are all connected.

346 pages, Hardcover

First published September 1, 2015

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About the author

E.D.E. Bell

30 books192 followers
E.D.E. Bell (she/e) loves fantasy fiction, and enjoys blending classic and modern elements. A passionate vegan and earnest progressive, she feels strongly about issues related to equality and compassion. Her works often explore conceptions of identity and community, including themes of friendship, family, and connection. She lives in Ferndale, Michigan, where she writes stories and revels in garlic. You can follow her adventures at edebell.com.

Bell was born in the year of the fire dragon during a Cleveland blizzard. After a youth in the Mitten, an MSE in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan, three wonderful children, and nearly two decades in Northern Virginia and Southwest Ohio developing technical intelligence strategy, she started the indie press Atthis Arts. Working through mental disorders and an ever-complicated world, she now tries to bring light and love as she can through fantasy fiction, as a proud part of the Detroit arts community.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 54 reviews
Profile Image for Kitty G Books.
1,551 reviews2,937 followers
October 16, 2018
*This was one of my #SPFBO entries for 2018*

This book is definitely one I really enjoyed and I am very happy to have read, in fact, it's my favourite of the SPFBO entries I have so far read. This story has a lot of what I like in Fantasy...Dragons, female leads who are epic, people fighting back, Dragons, wit and charm, charisma, Dragons and more...
I found that although it's a little slow to get going, it didn't take long for me to get hooked into the story and I quickly found myself enjoying the atmosphere, the story and the characters.

This world is kind of a split one where the world that once had dragons and humans has been divided and they consider the other race long extinct. They do not know much about how it happened or what it means, but they each have words for it in their own worlds, and the characters all feel that something is not quite right in their world.
In the human world women are lesser and they are treated by men as inferior as they cannot read and are clearly less knowledgeable. I'm happy to say quite a few of our human female characters are not at all as the men think and they are quite resourceful in a world that is against them.
The human world is split into four regions, Marshstate, Cavestate, Seastate and Farmstate and they all govern together through a candidate elected by all who go to vote. However, their system has flaws and many of these are exposed in the story.

The characters include:
- Jwala and Atesh - A dragon couple who work for the Emperor as a guard (Jwala) and a scientist (Atesh). They are both big personalities although I found I liked Jwala a little more in her approach, and Atesh took a little bit to grow on me. Their story starts when the Emperor asks Atesh to work for her on a secret weapon and threatens Jwala if he doesn't cooperate...
- Donna and Zee are the Emperor (Zee) and the General (Donna) of the Dragon world. Zee is the ruler of all of Dragonkind, but she is scheming and scary and she isn't quite as beloved as she may think. Meanwhile, Donna is a brute and everyone knows it. She's reckless and devoted and she is not someone you would want to cross...
- Ssarh and Jelt - They are an artist and a young friend (Dragons) who have an idea to become the most well-known and remembered artists of their time. They have come up with a daring plan to challenge their society and if they do it right it could lead to some big power shake-ups!
- Cor - She is probably the main character in the human world and she is a woman who is trying her best to find out about her parents and her past. She has relocated to the University area where she is hoping to uncover more about a mysterious tattoo she has, and also uncover the reason for her parent's murder, but she faces many difficulties as women are forbidden from the Library.
- Francie and Greg - They are the wife of the President and the President himself (of the human world). We actually follow mostly from Francie's PoV and I was very happy about this as Greg is a bit of a rubbish guy at times. Francie on the other hand seems like she really cares for the people of her world and she often speaks her mind and tries to help behind the scenes when she can.
- Bonso - A man who was abandoned by the system and who has had to make his own way through life so he decides to speak out about the woes of the world. He's rather too good at it and he causes more than a stir...

The story for this one was really strong once I got into it. It feels a bit like it's a play on some of the other stories I've read, and at the same time it's very entertaining in itself. I found that once I got into who was who (as there are a lot of characters we follow at different times) I really enjoyed the concepts that the story dealt with and the way that many of the characters came across.

I will say I had a few very minor niggles and some of that is due to poor character choices which annoyed me, or occasional overly-simple explanations. However, these were luckily few and far between and in general I really liked the book.

I would certainly recommend this and I gave it a solid 4.25*s which equates to 8.5*s for SPFBO purposes. Definitely my favourite so far :)
Profile Image for E.D.E. Bell.
Author 30 books192 followers
February 13, 2016
I wrote this book, and I am very excited about it. It's got dragons and wizards - and it's a little quirky. I hope you'll check it out!
Profile Image for Laura Custodio.
13 reviews3 followers
July 13, 2015
**Free ARC for Honest Review**

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading about an ensemble cast of characters who all have a part to play in an intricate story. This book is a well crafted fantasy tale of rebellion and pursuit of knowledge and will leave you wanting to pre order the next book in the trilogy right away.
Profile Image for Candace.
646 reviews184 followers
August 20, 2015
The Banished Craft is a story that is completely unique and absolutely beautiful. It’s an epic fantasy that is definitely epic. While it comes from multiple points of view, the characters are bold and stand out on their own. The world building is fantastic and unlike anything I’ve seen before. It’s a story that sucked me in and had me anxious to see through to the end.

Like I already mentioned, we get the story in multiple points of view but most of them we return to enough that we get to know them and connect with them. It wasn’t confusing or hard to follow though it took a few chapters to get into the flow of it. I don’t always like this technique but in this book it worked well. There’s a lot of different sides to see and this way we see all the different angles. And the characters were done really well and were fleshed out surprisingly well in the periods of time we had with them. Plus, we get to spend time with DRAGON’S! And these are more like ‘humans’ rather than ‘animals’ as they go about activities like humans.

I don’t even know where to start in explaining this world. That makes it sound complicated but it’s not really. But yet… it is. It’s just so different and you kind of need to experience it to really understand.

I really don’t even know how to explain this book but it brings about a lot of philosophical ideas. Things to think about, even though this is a fantasy, it can apply to our world as well. There’s a lot of emotional bits where we feel those intense feelings like hate, love and even frustration. Books that bring about ‘the feels’ like that are a total win in my book! This is an adult fantasy but it’s pretty clean so mature YA readers may enjoy it.

You can find this review, and others like it, on my blog at http://www.candacesbookblog.com
Profile Image for Christopher Bell.
2 reviews1 follower
August 27, 2015
As the author’s husband (and book’s typesetter), this review may be a bit biased. But I promise it is honest.

I was able to read both an early draft of the manuscript as well as the finished ARC. If you have ever done this for an author, it is a real treat and privilege to see a story being shaped and mature. It was tough to provide editorial comments (I did this between some of the many rounds of professional editing) because I kept falling into the story as a reader enjoying a good book would, and I had to often go back and reread a chapter to find critical suggestions.

What I love about E.D.E. Bell’s writing is that she is not afraid to destroy common fantasy stereotypes. From vegan genderless elves in her first book, Spireseeker, to an evolved class-structured society of dragons in The Banished Craft, her writing is fresh and her stories tackle current social themes in a way that completely fits into the fantasy genre. I can say that in my 30+ years of fantasy fiction reading, I've never read of a dragon scientist who must struggle with an ethical decision that threatens the safety of his mate. Now that I have, I can’t wait to read the rest of the trilogy!

I can also tell you that the story has a wonderful depth to it. Parallelisms to historical or social contexts are not by accident, as I've seen firsthand how much research goes into Bell’s writing.

Again, I’m a bit biased, but I love this story.
And the author ;)
Profile Image for E.J. Fisch.
Author 7 books115 followers
April 18, 2017
For some reason that I've never been able to put my finger on, the fantasy genre has just never captured my attention the way sci fi does, but I can say that E.D.E. Bell has created an incredible universe for her Shkode series. The structure of the story is probably what I found most interesting; there are two different halves taking place in what you might call parallel universes, and while the environments are virtually the same, the characters in each are so different and unique that you feel like you're in two entirely different worlds. This is partially thanks to the way the story is written, and partially because -- frankly -- one realm is inhabited by humans and the other by...dragons!

We're introduced to a lot of characters in a lot of settings, some of which are certainly more prominent than others. Events in the story are such that these leading characters are unwittingly drawn closer and closer together, leading to an interesting finale that sets things up nicely for the sequels.

If you're looking for a unique blend of modern and classic fantasy with strong-willed characters and a masterful story structure, check out this book.
Profile Image for Lindsey.
3 reviews1 follower
November 11, 2018
Inspiring and rich characters. Deeply creative with positive themes that focus on love and acceptance.
Profile Image for Ann McDowell.
23 reviews1 follower
June 11, 2017
I found The Banished Craft a timely read. Themes of gender based oppression are reminiscent of Atwood's Handmaid's Tale. Bell does an exquisite job of creating characters that you'd want to know and understand. Cor's drive to educate herself despite obstacle is tempered by her vulnerability, combining to make her a relatable and believable protagonist. The distinct regions in Teirrah are also well developed. Bell gives you no choice but to empathize with the position of Seastate; and Marshstate can't be easily dismissed as backward. Comparisons are easily drawn to divisions in our own culture and I'm grateful for the effort the author undertakes to cultivate an understanding and acceptance of each regional lens. On to The Fettered Flame
Profile Image for Tanya Miranda.
Author 11 books12 followers
May 26, 2018
Humans and dragons mixed with corrupted politics, conflicting societies, and the fact that both their worlds may be on the brink of destruction... make for a great read. On to book #2.
Profile Image for Kris Sellgren.
1,054 reviews21 followers
July 12, 2016
I found The Banished Craft to be full of interesting and unique ideas, starting with its premise. At Take Your Kid To Work Day in the 4-D universe, Mother shows her kids a 3-D universe she’s researching, but one kid pokes at it, accidentally splitting the 3-D universe into two universes. In the damaged 3-D universe, Earth splits into two worlds, one with humans but no dragons, and another with dragons but no humans. Both Earths, which share the same geography, are increasingly unstable, with frequent strong earthquakes. Mother is trying to find enlightened creatures, or at least intelligent ones, to warn them that their universe will collapse soon unless they themselves can pull the two universes back together.

The disaster of The Great Nova (4-D kid-poking) destroyed civilization on human Earth, which is still at Dark Ages technology 700 years later. Women are oppressed, only allowed to live with a husband or father and not permitted to read or study. This is the legacy of a religion arising soon after The Great Nova, which blamed everything on witches, complete with witchhunts. What’s left of human Earth is split into four states, with presidential elections every six years.

On Dragon Earth technology is more advanced, with radio and force fields. It is ruled by a vain and ruthless Empress and her blood-thirsty general. I was initially put off by the dragons, because we meet these two first. Then we meet Atesh, a kind and gentle dragon scientist, and his tough but loving soldier wife Jwala, and my interest soared.

Our two protagonists are Cor, a woman scholar writing under a man’s name and living in the shadow of the one surviving University on human Earth, and Atesh, the dragon biologist. They are both experimenting with “ha” (marijuana): ha helps humans and dragons hear the warning voice of Mother. Ha also enables visions.

The story of how dragons and humans need to learn to communicate with each other and with 4-D Mother to save their universe is set against a rich background of political maneuverings on each world. Rebels in one state are considering succession from the human central government, while others plot against the dragon Empress. The world-building is complex, with stories told from the POV of human healers, students, sailors, farmers, and politicians, and the POV of dragon scientists, spies, soldiers, and artists. Characters on all political sides have personal concerns that are easy to sympathize with, except for a handful of evil villains.

The stories of Atesh and Cor become increasingly suspenseful and engaging, leading to a cliff-hanging but hopeful ending. I look forward to its sequel.

I received this book for free from NetGalley.com in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for S.J. Higbee.
Author 13 books31 followers
December 3, 2016
One of the reasons why I wanted to return to this world is its richness and sheer quirky difference. I’m used to worlds being endangered by maniacal gods/powerful mages/artefacts – I can’t recall another world risking extinction because the child of a powerful being accidentally touched it… However, any impulse to burst out laughing is steadily eroded as we become engrossed in the lives of our protagonists on the sundered worlds. Bell handles the epic nature of her narrative really effectively, as both societies – stressed by the environmental upheaval – start to fall apart.

As well as providing an interesting, unusual take on the nature of the overwhelming disaster, Bell also gives us an insight into two uncomfortably familiar repressive societies as they seek to expunge any differences or political opposition. In the human world, women aren’t permitted to read or enter public life in any sphere, and although people travel from different parts of the planet, anyone with different colouring is treated with suspicion and hostility. Dragonkind is no better – a ruler who has been on the throne far too long is determined to continue to rule through whatever means she can. Her paranoia is creating an increasingly harsh regime where the majority are too cowed to rise up and protest. I don’t want you to go away with the idea that this is some political polemic, however. Bell is far too dedicated to the story to break her narrative with undue hand-wringing over the sorry state of our governing systems, but I liked the fact it is there.

What I mainly gained from reading this first book was a greater understanding of the characters, in particular Cor’s backstory and why she is such a cagey character. There is also an intriguing magical element in this story, which again is unique and I very much enjoyed watching it develop as Cor fumbles towards coping with this ability. The other unfolding story is that of the dragons, though I did feel Atesh’s main decision near the end of book was somewhat sudden and, given his ties to his family, was not wholly convincing. I’ll forgive Bell this slight inconsistency, however as I loved Zee, the twitchy ruler and her uncomfortable relationship with the brutal General Dronna.

Overall, the worldbuilding is excellent and as I continued reading, I was aware of not wanting the book to finish too soon as I was enjoying the unfolding drama in this detailed, troubled world. I’ll definitely be looking out for the last book in the series, which is highly recommended – though to get the best out of it, do please read The Banished Craft and The Fettered Flame in the right order.

Despite acquiring an advanced readers’ arc from the publishers via NetGalley, I can confirm my review is an honest, unbiased opinion of The Banished Craft.
Profile Image for L.L. Reynolds.
Author 2 books104 followers
November 12, 2015
The book is wonderful. So imaginative! An intelligent high fantasy full of imagination, dragons, and magic!

It's about a world that splits into two identical copies of itself, caused by the child of a mysterious scientist touching the triverse the scientist was studying. During the incident, the creatures inhabiting these two worlds saw the split as an immense ball of light in the sky, which then shrank and faded away. They refer to what happened as the Great Nova. The split caused the worlds to become dangerously unstable and now their mutual destructions are imminent. Each world knows nothing of the other's existence, except as stories, legends and myths.

Humans inhabit one of the worlds, which is rife with conflict and division, and dragons populate the other world. The gons, as they are called, live with their own set of dissension and disunity, courtesy of an emperor named, Zee, and her fierce protector General Dronna.

Although the mysterious scientist is trying to repair the split her child caused by attempting to find a way to communicate with the creatures, she doubts her ability to do so. The major storyline in the human realm follows Cor, a fierce, strong, intelligent, independent woman struggling in a male dominated society, where she has little value, and her discovery of a secret society of women known as the Shkode who practice magic. (I must say I admire the resistance and resilience of Cor throughout this book.)

The major story line in the dragon world follows Atesh, a dragon scientist, studying ha. It seems the small ha plant, which survives in both worlds may be the key to connecting the two worlds before it is destroyed.

The story features a large cast of other interesting characters and is told from multiple points of view. Other story lines follow the Grande Dame of Teirrah, Francie, and people from the Farmstate, Marshstate, Cavestate, and the Seascape, which form Teirrah.

E. D. E. Bell has done a terrific job describing the sociology of marginalized groups (ethnic groups, families and even individuals marginalized within localities).

This was right up my fantasy alley and I give it 5 stars.
Profile Image for G.S. Jennsen.
Author 49 books476 followers
June 26, 2015
A wonderfully delightful and deeply imaginative tale of struggle and the quest for knowledge, set in a well-developed and complex high fantasy setting.

E.D.E. Bell has created a multi-layered world of mystery, which she slowly and deliciously reveals in this high fantasy novel about worlds in peril. The characters she populates the worlds with highlight the challenges and difficulties of a society struggling to break free from a doomed course and pursue what may be a more enlightened path but in reality is the only path to survival. Sadly, many of the characters are so trapped within their own prison of laws, customs and routine that they may be unable to alter their course before it’s too late. Magic may save them, but only if it can be uncovered and understood before it’s too late.

The novel features two fully formed societies – one human and one dragon – and alternates between them as you progress forward into the narrative. In the human realm, Cor finds herself drawn to the pursuit of knowledge instead of family, trying to find a way to uncover secrets and forgotten knowledge while also coming to grips with her own difficult upbringing. In the dragon realm, the scientist Atesh struggles to understand the ties of life that bind the world together, though his research runs afoul of a strictly militaristic society. Two halves of one whole, and at the center is a watching god – one who struggles as well, working to find a way to help these doomed civilizations and right the accidental wrong that set the destruction alight.

Before Cor’s quest is done, she and the world she inhabits will come face to face with the necessity of change if they are to survive. Bell has spun a whimsical yet deep tale that will challenge your perceptions of not only this fantasy world, but possibly also your own. I look forward to the continuation of both the Shkode series and Cor’s journey.
Profile Image for Sadie Forsythe.
Author 1 book265 followers
October 12, 2016
OMG, I finally finished this, which was in doubt on more than one occasion. I just could not get into it and every page was a slog. I mean, I can read a book this length in a day. But I've been reading this one forever and a day...ok, three weeks, but for me, that's an eternity. I would pick it up, read a chapter (sometimes less), put it down, go off and read something else (usually an entire other book) and then come back to this one for a chapter (sometimes less). It was in this arduous manner I finally chipped away at it enough to finally finish. And do you know what? It ended about where I expected it to start with nary a conclusion in sight.

And it's not even that it's a bad book. The writing is pretty good and the characters seem interesting enough. Unfortunately, there are about four billion of them, most of whom don't seem relevant (though I suspect they will be in future books). And all these characters populate about a million unrelated plots. Though I expect they'll connect up at some point, just not in this book. I can kind of see the shape it will be taking, but that's not enough to be a satisfying rad.

It this over abundance of characters and plot lines that did me in. I was just never able to sink into it and float away with the story. Just about the time I settled into a narrative, it jumped to another, and just about the time I got comfortable there, the book was off again. This is stylistic and if it doesn't bother you then you may like the book. This drives me batty and I wanted to scream...or DNF the book.

There is a pleasant circularity to the two worlds that I appreciated and again, the writing is pretty good. But This one was definitely not for me. I had hoped to read the sequel, but I barely made it through this one.
Profile Image for Mel Lafferty.
2 reviews2 followers
June 26, 2015
I was fortunate enough to have the privilege to read an ARC of this book and I can tell you it is a well crafted, thought out/thought provoking book. EDE Bell weaves a complex tale of multiple worlds and characters, and although they are different species or come from different parts of a split world, they deal with similar obstacles and foes (at least to some extent when it comes to fighting for what is right or trying to find their voices when they have been silenced). It is a book that weaves back and forth between the characters and their worlds, but trust me, it all comes together. Bell writes the characters as if they are alive and could be someone you know or can relate to, whether human, dragon or gon. There are moments you will want to skip ahead to stay with a particular character and moments you will cheer or cry out feeling their pain or triumph. The world is immense and complex as it contends with its future and at the centre is someone trying to communicate with them all in hopes of helping them save their worlds. I am looking forward to what the next book has in store for these characters and their world. Great read!
Profile Image for Kenneth Morris.
132 reviews1 follower
September 7, 2016
This book started slow, bringing together 3-4-5 different tales based in a few worlds. Confusing yet enlightening. It was a bit difficult to keep up with which story you were reading until the characters became clearer. Sometime in the middle a full story began to emerge and plots seemed to move along at a merging pace. As you near the end so many things come to a head and then... BAM!!!! End of book one. I will have to keep an eye out for the sequel. This story is based in the fantasy realm, with humans and dragons and majik thrown in. There's one mild scene of love/lust and some political intrigue thrown in for good measure. Take the time to sit and enjoy this tale.
Profile Image for Jim Simpson.
16 reviews
February 8, 2016
This is the second book I've read by this author, and I appreciate the way she weaves the contemporary into fantasy. And any fantasy that incorporates science through an exploration of communication between dimensions is a very interesting fantasy indeed.

There's a balance between humans and dragons, math and science, and vegans and non-vegans.

I'm looking forward to the second book in the series.
May 19, 2015
I really enjoyed this book. Loved the illustrations at the top of the chapters and all the wonderful detail about the two worlds. War and peace and gender equality - lots to think about too. Looking forward to Volume 2!
4 reviews1 follower
October 7, 2015
I enjoyed this book tremendously! The story has science and magic; social injustice, political unrest, unstable worlds in need of saving, layers of mystery, unexpected heroes, and dragons. I can hardly wait for the next book in this story!
Profile Image for Dana Garner.
2 reviews
March 7, 2018
I'm a slow reader so it took me quite some time to get through, but I really enjoyed it. As other reviewers said, it bounces back and forth between different characters to really give a good sense of the cultures of the two worlds the story is working in. Some people might find this kind of storytelling distracting, but I really enjoyed it. I blazed through the end and can't wait to start book 2 later today.
Profile Image for Debbie.
150 reviews4 followers
November 4, 2017
*I was provided with a ebook of this book by the publisher via NetGalley, but my review is all my own opinion and thoughts*

*3.5 stars
Overall I enjoyed reading this. At the beginning it was a bit confusion because there is a lot of switching going on between character’s points of views. But after a while I got used to it. I do feel like this first book is setting up for the rest of the series. I am interested to see what is going to happen in the second book, which I will be picking up, just not right away. I would recommend reading this.
Profile Image for ☕️Kimberly  (Caffeinated Reviewer).
3,029 reviews645 followers
August 5, 2015
Banished Craft takes us into both worlds splitting our time between them and introducing us to multiple characters. Each world is identical physically but in one world the Dragons reside and in the other the humans. Each have knowledge of the other but believe the other to be extinct in their world.

In the human world of Terrah, we meet Cora, a bright young woman who resides near university and earns an income by secretly writing under a male pseudonym. Her world is ruled by a King and has several different districts. Women are not allowed to study, live alone, or own books *shivers* Even worse they cannot raise children without a man present. What an oppressive world. Cora is looking for answers about her murdered parents and can read and write. I liked Cora, she is inquisitive, and a rule breaker. The more we learn about her the more important we realize her role is. We also spend time with a young man named Borso. When his sister Sydra gets into trouble, he leaves his homeland and they travel to SeaState to the city of Porto Nobile. Here he hopes they can blend in and begin a new life. Events that occur lead to Borso’s discontent with the laws of his land and sets in motion a civil war. We also get a perspective from the King’s wife and I enjoyed these chapters.

In the second world, we meet the Dragons and oh, how I loved this world. The Dragons speak, attend university and are ruled by an Emperor named Zee. Here we meet Atesh a scientist who is secretly studying the plant known as ha and its properties. His wife Jwala is a member of the guard and expecting their first pup. A challenge to the Emperor has Zee ordering Atesh to produce a poison. Tension between Dronna, the Emperor’s Commander threatens them which creates this delicious tension. This world was wonderful and the descriptions of the dragons vivid and remarkable.

Both worlds suffered a major catastrophic event (what we know as the splitting) and for reasons not yet known have banned ha. Both experience earthquakes, and unexplained voids. Cora and Atesh who both experiment with ha hear a voice trying to warn them of something. (We know the voice to be that of the scientist trying to correct the wrong her son did) Both characters are strong and events towards the last part of this first novel have me excited about their roles.

I took my time reading the tale and did struggle slightly in the beginning which is oft to happen with high fantasy as the world is established. In the beginning, I wanted to spend more time in the Dragon world, but eventually I became caught up in both. The different perspectives sometimes pulled me out when I wanted to stay with a particular character. While I still have a zillion questions, those perspectives allowed me to get a feel for both worlds and its characters particularly those of Cora and Atesh.

The last one-third of The Banished Craft was intense and held me spellbound as the build of to events allowed me to have a clear picture as me moved towards a climatic ending. I have a feeling book two won’t feel as slow-paced since we have established the worlds, political climates and have been introduced to all the key players and threads of this epic fantasy.

Original, fresh and full of dragons and wizards, the world we visit in The Banished Craft was delightfully imaginative and I look forward to visiting this world and its characters again.

Copy provided by author This review was originally posted on Caffeinated Book Reviewer
Profile Image for Domoni.
93 reviews4 followers
August 27, 2015
I would like to thank the author for allowing me to read her novel in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

The story opens with a prologue. A scientist is explaining how different dimensions have been discovered and how one of her children has caused a disruption. In fact a split was created and a pocket universe was turned into two. Now they are separate places with no knowledge that they have been split. The memories of the world before are simply myths and dismissals they use to brush away the history of what is no longer around. In one world the humans live and set about trying to govern themselves with an apparent class division and rebellion at hand. The second world is of dragons, ruled by an emperor and warrior class. This world too seems to be at a turning point, on the brink of a rebellion.

This story is rather unique. I suppose it is to be considered a high fantasy novel and those at times take meandering paths, which meant at times this was very difficult to follow. Especially since we seem to be focused on three different worlds and pop in and out of multiple story lines in each. The scientist pops in to narrate as she tries to repair the damage done by the split before both worlds completely collapse. This aspect is one of the only things that keeps this story meshed together. I like the insight that is received from the source outside the two disconnected worlds.

The human world has many varied characters though my interest was most piqued by the woman Cor who defies the laws which tell her she is just a girl with no value outside of child rearing. She is determined to discover the secrets her parents left for her and to learn about how the world works. She is receptive to picking up the scientists attempts to communicate, even if she doesn’t understand what is happening. When she begins ingesting ha leaves, her visions become clearer. She is a strong character full of life in a rather bland world of restrictive laws. The other human characters did not come across with as much dimension though they all play a great part in the world.

In the world of dragons, the scientist Atesh is studying the illegal ha plant with a hunch it may be important. When ordered by the emperor Zee to create a poison for her, he pretends to do so and continues his studies. It is Atesh’s wife Jwala who comes across as the strongest character in the dragon world for me though. She wants to support her husband but protect him at the same time. When she realizes the emperor and her enforcer Colonel Dronna are using her husband, she is angry and becomes an enemy to Dronna.

With so many characters and stories going on, I cannot explain them all. This story is hard to follow and kind of slow paced because it jumps around so much. Seeing as this is to be a series, I feel as though it may have been a better bet to write separate books for the different stories. Yes they all mix up eventually, but honestly it was hard for me to get through because it was so easy to lose track of everything and it really felt rushed and chaotic. Even writing this opinion is hard to do because to tell you a little about all of it, would take much more time than I have. All of that aside, it is a good solid story.

For this and other reviews please visit https://fangirlsreaditfirst.wordpress...
Profile Image for John Stanifer.
Author 1 book9 followers
June 17, 2019
This is one of those books I knew I had to have as soon as I saw the cover. I mean, if you're a book lover, how can you NOT want to snap this up, regardless of what it's about?!

Thankfully, there's a great story to support the promising exterior. It's really hard to capture the depth of everything going on within this book in a short review, but there are some pretty serious issues tackled in this first book (war, revenge, racism, sexism, classism, veganism . . . basically if there's an ism, it's probably touched on at some point).

Do NOT let that make you think this is just an excuse for the author to express their political and social views. It's not. Everything that's said here is said in the service of the story, as it should be. Nothing feels forced into the plot. The world and its characters feel real. All too real, sometimes.

To me, this feels a bit like The Name of the Wind meets the Handmaid's Tale. That's a good thing (and I'm only using it to hint at the type of story this is--I'm not suggesting it's too much like either one of those titles).

The worldbuilding is creative and extremely entertaining. I think these are some of the most interesting dragons I've ever come across. And I really want to spend a few days (or years, if I'm being brutally honest) combing the library towers at University. Good thing I'm a man and would actually be allowed to pass through the doors, I guess . . .

Can't wait to dive into Book 2.
September 3, 2015
I was lucky enough to come upon this book through Candace’s Book Tours and am so happy I decided I wanted to take part in its review tour. This book is a layered masterpiece of epic fantasy that focuses on two worlds that are ending. The book follows a cast of character in these worlds as they try to come to terms with various political, emotional, and societal concerns while experiencing major world changing events like earthquakes and places just disappearing entirely.

Upon reading the synopsis it seems like you will be following Cor and Atesh, but in reality there is a huge cast in this book and each point of view is just as interesting as the last as the author builds this grand complex world and society. Cor is a human that is a victim or gender inequality and racial prejudice living in one world, while Atesh is a dragon scientist forced to work for the violent, vindictive dragoness emperor of his world. I found the political upheavals of both story lines multifaceted and their issues realistic though set in a fantasy world.

As for the other characters, we have the privilege of understanding the views of theses individuals in the human world: King’s wife, people of the Sea region, people in the Cave region, and people of the Marshlands. In the dragon world, there is a general, the emperor, some neighbors, and some art kids. It all seems kind of mish-mashed but it worked REALLY well.

I was partial to the dragon world – I found it faster paced than the human interactions and complications. (and dragons are cooler anyway, right?! YES!) I found myself speed reading through the human realm to get back to the dragon realm sooner and often you would get more about the humans than the dragons in a row, but most of the time they alternated.

Overall, this was an epic book, as it was supposed to be. I really adored the world building – it was SO good and the book brings up a lot of hardships society faces and I think that this could have a lot of feels for most readers. I know that I had them.
Profile Image for PC.
56 reviews
September 11, 2015
"How lovely this will look on my bookshelf!" was quite honestly my very first thought at my initial glimpse of E.D.E Bell's endeavor. I am happy to say that it has now achieved a shelf-placement as one of my favorites as well.
Not having a lot of spare time, I am afraid I have become difficult to entertain with the more prevalent standard fare. Of course many narratives falling under that category are truly enjoyable, however, let me give you just a hint of what is to be found under the lovely cover of this one...
Extending through the multiverse it weaves an entertaining path along the dimensions via an uber-intelligent female scientist (whose progeny are both influential and accident prone) to include warrior class Dragons that are extremely diverse in personality and mannerisms then onward to an unusual and highly intellectual world populated with Humans possessing insights and powers of which even they are unaware. Magic is afoot, and both worlds within this tale must struggle to comprehend a most crucial truth while 'time' is still granted them from those that exist far beyond their realm of perception. Does this sound confusing? It could have been, but thankfully the author includes you in the personal thoughts and ultimate struggle of all characters involved... while alternating between both worlds so that you follow this delightfully unusual and gripping fantasy with great clarity.
I not only would, but have recommended this to those that enjoy well-written fantasy. Thank you for allowing me this opportunity...
Profile Image for Sydney Scrogham.
Author 8 books55 followers
June 16, 2015
Wow, the story world is amazing. E.D.E. Bell writes with a style and tone that I haven’t heard before. I felt like I was immersed in two different cultures the whole time. I’ve never seen dragons represented so closely to humans. Bell writes in a way that makes me wonder what it’d be like to be a “gon.”

The prologue to this story blew my brain, and I liked that. I struggled to find my bearings because it was so far from anything I’ve experienced in my own world. But I enjoyed how that same narrator from the prologue popped in and played a role throughout the story.

I dropped a star from this book because the story is told from so many different points of view. Some people appreciate that style, but I’d rather stick with one or two narrators. But I really enjoyed Cor and Jwala’s characters. I wanted to spend the majority of my time with them. The beginning of The Banished Craft makes it seem like Cor and Dronna are going to be flip flopping narrators, but that wasn’t the case at all. As the beginning of the story expanded, new narrators appeared within every few pages, and I was exhausted instead of enjoying the story.

But even though multiple narrators showed up, Bell’s writing remained clean and strong. The tone is mysterious, almost dark, and very magical. This story is truly a work of art. Fantasy lovers who don’t mind more than two narrators will eat this up and be eagerly awaiting the next edition of the Shkode trilogy. I’m confident book two will have just as much depth as the first.
Profile Image for Cynthia.
47 reviews13 followers
June 5, 2016
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.
Profile Image for Maureen.
1,068 reviews33 followers
August 24, 2015
'The Banished Craft' is from the beginning a very interesting and wonderfully put together read. When I started reading I was a little afraid this book would be difficult to understand, but it wasn’t difficult at all. The writing immediately pulled me into it and its very original. Its written through different point of views which gave us inside to all the different characters and their worlds. It’s a book that could have failed just as easily, but due to E.D.E. Bell’s excellent writing this book was really awesome and really deserves to receive more notice.

A character I really liked was Cor. I loved how she kept fighting in a world where she wasn’t really appreciated, to find out the truth about her parents death. But most of all I loved the dragons. I really love dragons, and reading about them was so much fun.
Although this book moves between the different characters and their worlds a lot, I never lost interest or got confused. At times I did wish I could fast forward to another chapter because I just wanted to know more about another character, but that’s part of the charm of this book.

This is definitely a book you need to read for yourself to fully get the ‘magic’ of it. And I would really recommend this book to other fantasy lovers. It’s fun, different and exciting. Definitely a book worth reading.
3 reviews
July 1, 2015
I loved this book. I thought the characters were engaging, the world was rich with detail, and the plot was interesting. But, to be honest, it wasn’t any of these things that made me love the book. It was the dragons. The dragons were awesome. Each dragon had his or her own distinct personality along with different colored scales. Some were funny, some were evil, some were good – all seemed ‘real’. While reading the book I got a sense of their culture, their technology, how they interacted with the world around them, and their politics. The dragon and human worlds split generations ago. Both worlds are dealing with the consequences of that split, in the form of geological disturbances. These disturbances are aggravating the politics of the two worlds, which were already fragile. I found it interesting how the two worlds differed in their response. The dragon world seemed to be both simpler and more complex than the human world. A challenger can replace the Emperor by a dual, cutting through the complexities of the political systems. On the other hand, the dragons seemed to have more appreciation of the arts and are more advanced technologically. Overall, I enjoyed the book and am looking forward to the next one.
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