Cradle of Sea and Soil by Bernie Anés Paz — A Review

This is a story about two people proving their worth and trying to find their place in this world. Narune and his mother, Colibri, were born as Halfborn. Fated to die, considered too dangerous to live, but despite the vows of their people they survive as outcasts. And now, as danger ramps up and the people who spurned them are threatened with what could be extinction, they both find themselves key to the conflict.

And what a conflict it is! The dread of the mindless foe they face is staggering, and the world they live in is so colorful and dangerous. I loved the magic the spiritseers wield, and wish I could have seen more of it before we escalated into the final battle. Each battle or ritual or discovery is beautifully painted, and thematically everything comes together well. Cradle of Sea and Soil is a good book.

Which makes it sad that the ‘wound’ tripped me up, and that wound for me was the characters. I failed to care for them as much as I wanted to. I have a guess as to why. Both Narune and his mother Colibri are supposedly ‘flawed.’ They endure a constant voice that calls them to violence. Colibri is impulsive, an oathbreaker, and Narune follows in her footsteps. He’s sometimes dishonest toward her as well, keeping secrets. And yet, when it comes to the story or the combat or the relationships Narune and Colibri have, the two of them are never really at fault. They are loving, forgiving, excellent warriors, near-perfect at what they do. Even negative traits I outlined above end up as positives, in the context of the story. They are all but flawless, and for me, that weakened the story.

Cradle of Sea and Soil is not a bad tale by any means. It is a tried and true story set in a beautifully original world. But the main characters are too perfect for my tastes, too competent and forgiving and free of consequential mistakes. If that doesn’t sound like a flaw, give this one a go! The world alone is worth the read.

See you around,

Kyle Adams

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