OK I have four points to make. Firstly, this book is number one out of a total of twelve books. This is a series and I would recommend that if you’re interested in the series, then read book one (Initiate), book two (Taboo) and book three, (Sacrifice) to get a full idea of what you’re in store for.
Secondly, the time this book is set in is very primitive, think neolithic stone-age. Therefore there are some dark scenes where women are treated harshly, and rape is referred to. There is also a lot of violence, bullying, and political tribal injusticies. Although the descriptions are not explicit, you are aware that these things have happened or are happening. A number of reviews stated that this book is really aimed at an older audience. I agree, but this second point does not make this book any less brilliant or degrade it’s uniqueness.
Thirdly, this book and the series has three main story lines. You have the main female character Dindi and her desire to be a Taevaedi (basically a magical dancer). You also have the main male character Kavio, an exiled Taevaedi with a lot of power and his quest to become a better and respectable person. And lastly you have Vessia, also known as the Corn Maiden, who you never actually meet but her story is told through visions that Dindi receives whenever she touches her totem doll.
Fourthly, this book is deliciously rich with it’s world building, characterization, and plot line. It is complicated, but not difficult to follow if you are truly hooked by the story. There are multiple POV’s not just Dindi’s, Kavio’s and Vessia’s (told in second person). There is a lot of terminology, including character names, clan names, levels of fae, magic, etc. So be prepared to sink your teeth right into these books, put down all the other books you may be reading, cast all troubling thoughts out of your mind and dive into Tara Maya’s story.
OK now we can get started… It did take time to get into this story but I loved it. I went through a period of reading only fairy/fae related novels and after a while they all became a bit samey, until I reached this book. ‘Wowzers’, is that how you spell it? is it even a word? Who cares! Bring it back! This book was nothing like what I expected it to be, I expected tame fairies and modern humans. I got mischievous and beautiful and dark fairies, and I got humans in tune with magic, living life in primitive yet complicated Tribal Clans. It was just such an amazing mix, I absolutely loved it.
The magic element in this book centers around fae/fairies, but also dancing as the magical medium. Dindi and the other characters have to dance in order to perform magic, like healing or calling on various elements. They are called Taevaedi and there are different levels of magical abilities and different dances a Taevaedi can learn. The Taevaedi are not supposed to dance freely, learning the correct steps in each dance is very important because if they dance incorrectly it can have dire consequences.
Dindi is sweet, shy and clever, and she acts just like a logical, kindhearted, genuine person would. So much so, when bad things started to happen to her I was almost screaming with outrage. Dindi just wants to be a dancer because she loves dancing, she spends all of her free time dancing with fae when really she shouldn’t be. There are so many moments of injustice when it comes to Dindi, even I was scowling. I have to say I was firmly in Dindi’s corner for a long time, every other character was wrong in my opinion and Dindi was the greatest.
However, cruel and brilliant, but still cruel Ms Maya! There are side characters too who I loved and hated, and two of whom I ended up hating were Brenda and Rthan. However Ms Maya does that infuriating thing where she makes you hate then love certain characters and she did it well with these two. I actually felt sorry for these two characters in the end. Gwenika one of Brenda’s daughters was adorable too. A little annoying to begin with but another kindhearted soul who becomes Dindi’s only friend. Their friendship is incredibly touching at times.
Kavio, oh my, send me a Kavio any day of the week. I would like to know where Ms Maya got her inspiration for this charming and believable character. I do believe another reviewer said that Ms Maya must have received an ‘honorary penis’ to write this character because she writes Kavio so well. You really get to see the inner workings of the male mind with Kavio. Yes he’s kind, good looking, and tries to do the right thing on all counts, but he’s still human at the end of the day, or rather part human, and he still has human struggles. It’s obvious he likes Dindi and is intrigued by her impressive dancing skills. It’s obvious he knows that there is something different about her but he can’t quite figure it out. Yet he’s a gentleman most of the time, both protective but also falling in love with Dindi. Oh my god I just wanted him to kidnap Dindi and run away with her at some points in the story, (and to all the boys/men out there, NO, don’t do that to a real person -C.L).
The Corn Maiden, Vessia, was an interesting sub-plot and integral to the overall story. I get the feeling that Vessia wasn’t completely human or not human at all. Her behavior is rather bizarre in the visions/flashbacks Dindi receives, and I mean bizarre in a not human way. She was definitely intriguing and the past events that surrounded her life and ultimately affect Dindi’s present day is very nice, you get the feeling that something monumental happened in the past, that will require fixing in Dindi’s present day, though you are only given clues as to what this might be.
All in all there are a number of characters who you get to learn about, and there is a good balance between good and bad. I especially liked the fact that some of the characters end up darting between being good and bad, it was surprising. You never really know what is going to happen next!
The world building is incredible. Ms Maya has thought of everything, and I mean everything! Housing designs, Clan politics, clothing, food, tools, everyday chores, rituals… the list goes on and on. The attention to detail and descriptions made this fantasy world very believable. Multiple thumbs up from me.
I don’t think I can write any more without making this blog incredibly lengthy. I thought this book was wonderful, the ideas refreshing, the characters lovable, and the storyline intricate. Do go out and get both book one, two and three. Book one ends on a very abrupt cliffhanger which upset some reviewers, so if you want a more complete story get the first three books before you decide whether or not to continue the series.
From The Current Reviews:
The Good: ‘refreshingly original world based on ancient Native American cultures and settings’, ‘Enchanting, intriguing, and beautifully written’, ‘pleasantly surprised’, ‘a brilliantly woven fantasy tale‘, ‘intriguing characters, and a great plot’, ‘Full of suspense and intrigue‘, ‘thrilling and romantic characters‘, ‘I was blown away by this book: the world it’s set in is at once familiar and unfamiliar, being built from elements of our world, but put together in a completely novel way.’, ‘Tara Maya is an incredible writer‘, ‘loved this book’, ‘fascinating world building‘, ‘awesome’, ‘brilliant’, ‘Epic’, ‘clever, delicious plotting‘, ‘Sneakily genius!’, ‘the writing flows’, ‘Maya’s world building is immense and very detailed‘, ‘Holy smoking wow. This is one of the few books I’ve read that I can honestly say was totally, 100% original.‘, ‘different and interesting’, ‘The world is richly imagined and well described‘, ‘unique’, ‘refreshing’, ‘a vivid fantasy realm’, ‘This truly is a beautiful start to a promising saga‘, ‘The characters are engaging and you will grow attached to them, they also show some growth as the story progresses‘, ‘The story flows smoothly with some good action scenes as well as more emotional sequences between the characters‘, ‘an interesting blend of traditional fairy-type creatures, magic and a tribal society‘, ‘fast-paced’, ‘The ending was brilliant and I can’t wait to get book 2 and see where that takes me‘, ‘very impressed’.
The Bad: ‘I just could not get on with Initiate as I did not care much about what happened to the characters, and the plot was a bit confusing’, ‘I didn’t care for how often the story jumped characters’, ‘Way too many POVs’, ‘I did not like the cliffhanger ending’, ‘I found it a bit laborious to read’, ‘Most of the characters were short sighted, ignorant and stupid’, ‘No simple names like 3 letters or common names’, ‘It was a nice book but I can’t see a point’, ‘confusing’, ‘bewildering’, ‘I felt like I was reading a draft’, ‘It was a great effort right up to the abrupt and unsatisfying lack of ending’.
The Darn Right Ugly: ‘The plot, the characters, the writing, EVERYTHING was wrong with this book.
The Unicorns: ‘Well-written with fluid and descriptive passages, this story is one I’d recommend with the warning: Start reading it and you’ll wish to complete the series. It’s different and refreshing, and entertaining.‘, ‘Ms. Maya took a great idea, and combined it with a beautiful writing style and the perfect setting in order to make an amazing story.’, ‘Best Book Ever.’
Amazon Kindle Rating: (4.2 Stars)
Goodreads Rating: (3.63 Stars)
Release date: 25th December 2010
Age Range: 16+
Contains: Books 1-3, references and descriptions of violence and sexual scenes. Rape is mentioned and referred to.
Genre(s): Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance.
About The Book: The initiation ceremony is the gateway to ultimate power…or death. A DETERMINED GIRL Dindi can’t do anything right, maybe because she spends more time dancing with pixies than doing her chores. Her clan hopes to marry her off and settle her down, but she dreams of becoming a Tavaedi, one of the powerful warrior-dancers whose secret magics are revealed only to those who pass a mysterious Test during the Initiation ceremony. The problem? No-one in Dindi’s clan has ever passed the Test. Her grandmother died trying. But Dindi has a plan… AN EXILED WARRIOR Kavio is the most powerful warrior-dancer in Faearth, but when he is exiled from the tribehold for a crime he didn’t commit, he decides to shed his old life. If roving cannibals and hexers don’t kill him first, this is his chance to escape the shadow of his father’s wars and his mother’s curse. But when he rescues a young Initiate girl, he finds himself drawn into as deadly a plot as any he left behind. He must decide whether to walk away or fight for her… assuming she would even accept the help of an exile.
Where to Buy?
Amazon: Paperback, book one £5.80, book two and three are not available. Book one in paperback form is also available on other sites, search online, pricing appears to be similar.
Disclaimer: The reviews and opinions above are either from online sources or my own, and have been collaborated together for the ease and benefit of potential new readers. All ratings have been collected from the date of this blog’s publishing and will potentially change in the future.