Desert Rising – Kelley Grant

Hey everyone – just a heads up that I will be going on vacation, and so too will my blog. Although I’ll certainly be reading, I’m not going to worry about trying to post, though I’ll almost certainly save my thoughts to post upon my return on April 27th. Happy reading all!



“It frightens me, knowing the One has called up two such strong individuals. It means that there are troubled times in our future, and you must prepare yourselves.”

The Temple at Illian is the crown jewel of life in the Northern Territory. There, pledges are paired with feli, the giant sacred cats of the One god, and are instructed to serve the One’s four capricious deities. Yet Sulis, a young woman from the Southern Desert, has a different perspective – one that just might be considered heresy, but that is catching on rather quickly…

Sulis’s twin Kadar, meanwhile, is part of a different sort of revolution. When Kadar falls in love with a woman from a Forsaken caste, he finds he’s willing to risk anything to get these people to freedom. But with Sulis drawing a dangerous level of attention from the deities, and war about to break out on two fronts, change may not come as easily as either twin had hoped.

An astonishing debut, Kelley Grant brings to life a powerful new epic fantasy tale of determination and self-discovery.


I’ve said in the past that one of the better aspects of the Harper Voyager Impulse line is its lower price point: it encourages you to take chances on books that you might not otherwise look at, or, in the case of a book such as this, a book that has flaws, but enough originality to balance it out.

There is some fun to be had with this book: I like the idea of the four deities speaking through humans, and that the humans can channel the powers of the gods when needed. There’s a very Greco-Roman feel to the whole affair. Bonding with the feli isn’t entirely unique, but you really can’t go wrong with giant cats either.

That being said: the world feels generic. The vaguely Middle Eastern setting isn’t taken advantage of. There is the one empire that is subduing the other, and of course the empire is evil and condones slavery while the good guys treat all people of all levels equally. It’s a bit preachy and it’s been done before and not overly compelling. I’m also not sold on the machinations of two of the deities. While the premise of war is intriguing, making one someone who preys on the pledges is…yeah. And it doesn’t feel like the have any nuance either. There’s nothing that makes them sympathetic, and given that she does change point of view to tell their portion of the story, there’s no reason she couldn’t have given them more depth. If they don’t have depth again they’re not compelling. I suppose you could argue that they are petty because their gods are petty, but if that was the aim, then I’m not sure that we needed this point of view at all then. I don’t know.

So yeah, it’s a mixed bag. There’s definitely enough there to give it a look, but for epic fantasy, it could stand to be a little more epic.

Verdict: Borrow it

Available: April 21st


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