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Songs of the Earth

(The Wild Hunt #1)

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  2,166 ratings  ·  248 reviews
Gair is under a death sentence.

He can hear music - music with power - and in the Holy City that means only one thing: he's a witch, and he's going to be burnt at the stake. Even if he could escape, the Church Knights and their witchfinder would be hot on his heels while his burgeoning power threatens to tear him apart from within.

There is no hope . . . none, but a
Hardcover, 467 pages
Published June 16th 2011 by Gollancz (first published 2011)
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Average rating 3.67  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,166 ratings  ·  248 reviews

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Ranting Dragon
Jul 07, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: stephan
I’ve only been reading fantasy for about five years now. I did read all of Tolkien’s works and The Chronicles of Narnia when I was younger, but it wasn’t until I read Christopher Paolini’s Eragon that I got into the genre. Then I read books like Naomi Novik’s Temeraire, Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time, Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn, James Clemens’ Banned and Banished, and Raymond E. Feist’s Riftwar. Very different titles, yet all of them have two things in common: they are all epic stories, and ...more
Jul 15, 2011 rated it it was ok
On Amazon they like this book to Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, all I have to say to this is; not even close.
In Name of the Wind the beautifully written words jump out at you and the dialog flowed smooth, here in Songs of the Earth...not so much.
Don't get me wrong, Songs of the Earth did have some sun through the clouds moments where a sentence shined or the dialog was witty but it's missing something.
I am a huge fan of British authors with Kate Griffin's Madness of Angels getting a
May 13, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: didn-t-finish
The problem with being a poor book hoarder is that the library eventually wants their book back. I still hadn't managed to get into it and all my the renewals were used up. It was make or break time. I sat down determined to get lost in Songs for a night.
100 pages later and I realized why I hadn't been able to get into it. There's nothing particularly wrong about Songs. There's also nothing right either. It's like a whole bunch of tropes went out for lunch and forgot to pay the check. Everything
Codey Blair
Mar 06, 2013 rated it it was ok
I am at a loss here. No book has ever prompted me to join a website to write a review. I am the type of person that never walks out of a movie no matter how bad. Being an avid reader since grade school I can honestly say I have never read a book that has made me want to put it down.Elspeth Cooper has a beautiful writing style that I found very engaging it was easy to get lost in her writing. I had no problems with the premiss or characters of the book. I can forgive bland characters, poor world ...more

I've read some crazy good debuts over the last twelve months, including two of the best novels I read last year. It's not the norm, however, for a debut author to spring forth like Athena, fully grown and ready to kick some ass. And Elspeth Cooper's (can we agree that Elspeth is a cool name?) Songs of the Earth is more the norm, a well conceived and well written novel that suffers from debut hiccups.

Cooper's protagonist is Gair, a holy-knight-in-training
Aug 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Just binge read a series and started on this one.
I have no life...only books ;)

This is an excellent book and I strongly suggest it to those who like fantasy, murder, mayhem, and majick !
Oh and really intense characters. Especially the characters one loves to hate !

Kill them allllll Gair...all of them !
Sep 08, 2012 marked it as could-did-not-finish
I have a few complaints:

1 - Isn't the author female? Why have there only been three (three!) named female characters, and only one other that warrant a mention? And no, I'm not gonna take "but the society she created is patriarchal" bullcrap. She mentions that there are other female character but never talks about them, while naming and giving importance to more male characters than I can count on my hands. If there's something I can't stand, it's saying "we're all equal and 50-50 here!" and
Mar 16, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011-read
I've never hid the fact that I am a sci-fi reader before a fantasy reader, but every now and then a fantasy book comes along that I look at and just want to read. Songs of the Earth is just such a book, not as hefty as some other novels in the genre but the blurb makes it sound interesting, the fact that it's the first part of a planned trilogy even better. I won't lie, this one has a lot to live up to even before opening the page, the publisher declaring it as the fantasy debut of 2011. ...more
Sep 14, 2012 rated it it was ok
I blame it on the MC.
Gair the person who narrates most of this story character was like porridge.Bland,but not bad exactly.Because for someone for who was supposedly tortured, he sure was plain.It didn't help that the plot was a carbon copy of every other epic fantasy.Here are just some examples.
1)the narrator must suffer but survives
2)He special and oh so powerful
4)honest noble ya blah blah all that good stuff and interestingly a virgin
And it goes on

The only reason this got two
Jul 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, 2011
Songs of the Earth is another great 2011 debut. Harkening back to a more traditional fantasy feel, it made me feel warm and comfy in its pages. It felt both familiar and new, as there is a sort of 'Chosen One' feel about its protagonist Gair, but nobody comes out and says it. There is no prophecy he has to follow, no magical McGuffin to help him complete a quest. It really isn't a prophecy-driven book; instead it's just good old-school epic fantasy, in my opinion.

The world building in Songs of
Apr 02, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to give this book only 2 stars, but then I realised that there is nothing wrong with it. Quite the opposite - the world is more or less independent (no book can be completely unique these days), the storytelling was ok, the main character was okay-ish, the story line was bearable. See? Nothing wrong here.

The problem with the book WAS the okay-ish level. I guess I'm not going to read the sequel, because I don't care about the characters. Not. Single. One. Of. Them.

(view spoiler)
Feb 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
***Originally posted to: Bookish Book Blog |YA&Adult Book Reviews, Author Interviews, Guest Posts, Giveaways and News!

Exquisite. A near perfect blend of fantasy, action, adventure and magic. Finely imagined and beautifully told, Songs of The Earth by Elspeth Cooper is one greatly enjoyable and entirely captivating debut fantasy novel. I had a wonderful time reading it. Thanks to Cooper's excellent and engaging storytelling, it didn't take long for me to become totally immersed in the plot.
Catie (Phantom Book Blog)
Apr 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Proclaimed witch, Gair, is about to be burned at the stake by the very church he has devoted his life to. Gair has the ability to "hear the song" (hence title, Songs of the Earth, keep up folks) and can thus manipulate powers around him. The thing about Gair though, he's incredibly strong. Saved by a little bit of bureaucratic magic, Gair is instead exiled and starts his new life/journey with the Guardians of the Veil. Sworn to protect the delicate fabric between worlds which is thinning ...more
Blodeuedd Finland
Religious persecution against those with magic. Yes that always brings forth emotions in me. They are the perfect baddies, sitting in their cold towers preaching about salvation and hunting innocents with magic in their blood, even if those loves the Goddess just as much as the rest.

We got Gair, our hero, who is being tortured because he has magic. A good hero who finds his own way, friends and love down the road that is this book. He never loses faith either, something that is not easy after
Oct 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
First off, I had a hard time rating this book. It's more of a four than a five, maybe a four and a half.

Overall, the story runs a little cliche, the hero is an orphan who is special. A religious organization that reeks of Christianity. The musical magical system and world cultures are not as creative as they often are.

But on the other hand, the book is spectacularly well written. The author may borrow from the classics for ideas, but does a great job developing a fun story.
Rowan faal Kodaav
Jun 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
The beginning caught my attention, and every word after plucked my heartstrings. The ending made me cry like a baby. I'll probably recommend this one to everyone I meet from now on. Love love love love loved it.
S.B. Wright
Jul 17, 2011 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Deborah Ideiosepius
A pleasant fantasy with several familiar themes.

We start off with our leading man, Gair, in cells reserved for witches by the pervasive, all powerful church. He was being trained as a warrior, but was not cautious enough to prevent himself for being sprung as a witch and he is facing being burned to death as a witch.

Reprieved at the last moment, he is taken under the wing of an older witch who whisks him off to a school for witches on some remote islands.

No spoilers so far really, the back cover
Mar 11, 2012 added it
Shelves: fantasy, dnf
I tried. I really, really did. I WANTED to like SONGS OF THE EARTH, despite the utter creepfest on the cover. Fantasy is what I write. I want to be inspired by the fantasy I read. And I tried. I gave it more leeway, read a little further than I would have normally because it's adult fantasy (not sexy times adult, just not YA) and thus carries more fat. It can take longer to get into the story. So I was patient. I waited. And waited. And waited. By the 300 page mark I was done waiting. I couldn't ...more
May 26, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: high-fantasy
Fantasy tends to have common tropes that author's use. A particularly common one is that of the great hero who starts as, for lack of a better word, nothing. Within this, you find such heroes as King Arthur as a lowly squire pulling the sword out of the stone, Conan the Barbarian becoming king, Bilbo and Sam as lowly (literally) hobbits becoming the key to the battle, and others too many to name.

Now within this trope there appears to be two (maybe three) sub-species. The first is where the
Craig Slater
Jan 14, 2012 rated it liked it
A highly anticipated, much publicised, debut novel, this book by newcomer Elspeth Cooper is being marketed as “the Fantasy Find of 2011”. It is from the team that brought us Joe Abercrombie and
Patrick Rothfuss. So is this all it’s cracked up to be?

Well, the only way to tackle such a book is to ignore all the manufactured hype and let the book speak for itself.

Gair, a novice knight, can hear music that no one else can: beautiful, grave, captivating music that is rich in power. In the Holy City,
Jun 19, 2011 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 23, 2011 marked it as abandoned
This book gets a resounding 'meh' from me.

I knew I would have trouble with the book right from the first page: a character is praying to the Mother using a rosary, words that are only slightly different from the Sermon on the Mount, and closing with 'Amen'. But it's fictional world, a fictional religion, with no apparent connection with Christianity or this world's church (except, it shows later, what could be seen as its poor attitude towards magic and general intolerance). So maybe I wasn't
Mark Lacy
Jan 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I wish I could remember what led me to purchase Elspeth Cooper's "Songs of the Earth." If I could only remember, I'd try to make it happen again and see what really cool book I could wind up reading next. I just finished "Songs of the Earth," and perhaps the best way to describe how much I liked it was, I immediately started reading the sequel ("Trinity Rising").

The first chapter describes a frightful scene where a young man is about to be burned at the stake for being a "witch". At the last
Tom Lloyd
Jan 14, 2013 rated it liked it
This isn't really a review, which may strike you as odd I admit...

However, given the circumstances of me reading it and the length of time it took me, making much sense or intelligent criticism isn't possible so I'm going to say a couple of things and leave it at that.

Most importantly, I enjoyed it and I kept up with it. I'm not saying it's a complex book at all, quite the opposite, but it took me over six weeks to read as my firstborn arrived close to the start and frankly keeping up with
May 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
There I was...stuck in town with nothing to read (since my brain had taken an early vacation, forgetting my book at home) and a long wait ahead of me - **PANIC!!** - so I rushed to the nearest library and pulled this one off of a random shelf, knowing absolutely nothing about it (and wishing I had phone #'s to some of my Goodreads book twins, even though many are halfway around the world and it would have been 3 in the morning their time!), but thought I'd give it a shot. Although the story ...more
Apr 05, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy-sf
When I first picked up this book, I secretly hoped that Elspeth Cooper was Tamora Pierce pulling a Richard Bachman since Elspeth & the Cooper clan are main characters in her Tortall books.

Nope. It was pretty apparent that the writing style was too different -- Cooper oversimplifies her plot, follows standard fantasy story arcs and uses character stereotypes. The naive "why me?" hero, the fiesty love interest, the wise old man who initially guides the hero, etc. It's like Cooper took a David
“Suffer ye not the life of a witch.” So it is written in the scripture of the Holy Suvaeon Knights. Bad luck then for Gair, a Novice Knight, that he can hear the “songs of the earth” that allow him to perform the forbidden magic. The young man is caught in the act, thrown in a dungeon, and tortured, but before he can suffer the usual fate of a witch and gets burned at the stake, the Church Preceptor intervenes and surprisingly allows him to leave with nothing more than a branding. An old man ...more
Jan 26, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2 1/2 stars - It was an ok book

Overall, I thought Songs of the Earth was a rather flawed book, but the series has potential if the issues with pacing and characterization can be worked out. It had a strong opening and ending, but the middle was rather unevenly paced with a lot of familiar elements that didn’t have enough spark to make the book stand out. The writing was decent, but considering the rather dull main character and a storyline that couldn’t always maintain my interest, I ended up
One of the reasons I enjoy speculative fiction so much is because the imagination knows no bounds, and SF seems to be the genre where the imagination plays the biggest part in the writing process. In the end, Songs of the Earth just wasn’t imaginative enough. Tropes have their place, and maybe I would have enjoyed this more in a different mindset, but as it sits, Songs of the Earth reads like a piggybacked version of plenty of other fantasy books. Despite her solid writing, Cooper just wasn’t ...more
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Q&A with Elspeth ...: Songs of the Earth 4 14 Apr 10, 2014 03:58PM  

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Author of The Wild Hunt Quartet (SONGS OF THE EARTH, TRINITY RISING, THE RAVEN'S SHADOW and the forthcoming THE DRAGON HOUSE). Reader, writer, tea drinker, sword owner, cat slave.

I'm not here often, so if you need to get in touch, please use the contact form on my website

Other books in the series

The Wild Hunt (4 books)
  • Trinity Rising (The Wild Hunt, #2)
  • The Raven's Shadow (The Wild Hunt, #3)
  • The Dragon House (The Wild Hunt, #4)