I just finished reading Catling’s Bane by D. Wallace Peach (which is the first book in the Rose Shield series) yesterday around noon. And let me tell you: this book was WONDERFUL! It was one of those that was impossible to put down… every time I picked it up we would spend at least an hour or two together and I stayed up later than I should a couple nights. I got ahold of this book because I regularly read the authors blog and she announced that Catling’s Bane would be free this past weekend. I had been wanting to read her work so I jumped on the opportunity. Plus, I am a poor cop at the end of the day and free always works well for me! Unfortunately for me, I loved this book so much and am so invested in Catling’s story emotionally that I will have to spend money and read the other books now…
I read it on the Kindle app on my MacBook Pro so I didn’t see the cover art in person but, I am looking at pictures of it as I write this review and I must say that it is simple yet stunning. The back cover of the book describes Catling’s Bane in the following, “In the tiers of Ellegeance, the elite Influencers’ Guild holds the power to manipulate emotions. They hide behind oaths of loyalty and rule the world. A child born in the grim warrens beneath the city, Catling rues the rose birthmark encircling her eye. Yet, it grants her the ability to disrupt the influencers’ sway. She’s a weapon desired by those who reign and those who rebel. Established methods of civil control disintegrate before her. Most of the guild wish her slain. One woman protects and trains her, plotting to use her shield to further imperial goals. No longer a helpless child, Catling has other plans. As chaos shakes the foundations of order and rule, will she become the realm’s savior? Or its executioner?” The author describes it as part fantasy and part science fiction, which I think is accurate. But those who aren’t fantasy fanboys or girls need not shy away from this book. In a world where money and status mean very much and everyone is seeking to use powers for their own sake, I think there are lessons and moments in this book that all fans of literature will like. Catling is really an amazing heroine. She is easily relatable and I began sympathizing with her nearly immediately. She is a tragic protagonist. It seems throughout the book Catling experiences heartbreak after heartbreak after heartbreak and I was left feeling sorrow in her sad moments and becoming upbeat at her victories.
During the read, I think you will also come to know and love a few other characters. The characters are all dynamic and none are flawless, which I like. I don’t particularly like books that create characters without struggle or flaw and Peach does a great job of keeping her characters believable and real, even in a fantasy world. The book is well written and the grammar and spelling is on point. I can’t recall any issues there off the top of my head and you can tell it has been well reviewed and put together.
D. Wallace Peach says she began writing late in life as other demands in her life diminished. She lives in Oregon with her husband, two dogs and Pinky the cat in a log cabin (where’s the invite?). She says that she didn’t love reading at a younger age until she got ahold of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J.R. Tolkien. I would argue that Tolkien’s influence is clear on her work in that the world she creates in Catling’s Bane is vibrant and you can tell there is a lot of depth and thought that went into making it be well mapped. As I said earlier, I have read Peach’s blog regularly. Whether a blog post, a comment or, now, one of her books, I am always impressed with her kindness and desire to make the world a better place that is apparent in her attitude and writing. She has a great rhythm to the way she writes, if that makes any sense, and while reading the book the words and the way they met together just flowed and “sounded” nice in my head.
Similar to the author, my love at a young age was blossomed by science fiction and fantasy as well. The first book that truly got me into reading was Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. Later, I found the works of Tolkien and others that fed that love of reading even more. The last five years or so, however, I have gotten more into reading non-fiction and especially military history stuff. But Catling’s Bane reminded me of every reason why I loved fantasy so much. Thank you, D. Wallace Peach for rekindling my smoldering embers of love for this genre and I am so, SO excited to read more of your books.
For those of you curious, you can find D. Wallace Peach’s blog Myths of the Mirror if you click on the hyperlink. There, you can read more about her and there is a section detailing her other books as well.