DiscoverEpic Fantasy

Elemental Rising

By Toni Cox

Loved it! 😍

Amazing world building and characters. You need to read this book asap.

Synopsis

Dragons, Elves, and Magic. What more could you want from a fantasy trilogy?

Maia, Elf Princess of Grildor, has trained her entire life to be the Elemental of her people. Yet, when she returns home to Elveron after her final test, disaster strikes. She has brought with her the very thing she tried to leave behind.

Faced with responsibilities she thinks she is not ready for, a love she does not reciprocate, and a threat to her people that might kill them all, she is suddenly forced to become what she is meant to be – a Prime.

An army more terrible than the nation of Grildor ever had to face is suddenly at the Gate and Maia, with the help of her dragon, Midnight, must face the challenges of saving her people.

The appearance of Death, however, might derail all their plans. Will the bad omen mean the end of them all, or can Maia overcome that which holds her back from true power?

I love a book that doesn't skip out on world building and that's exactly what this book excels at. By the end of the book, it was as if I were living within that world. There are a ton of characters, but thank goodness, the author includes a handy list at the back of the book that can be referred to when necessary. Maia is a strong female lead which is a great change from a lot of the male driven books (which I also love). There are dragons...c'mon, who doesn't love dragons? The best part? This is book 1 of a trilogy. I can't wait to get my eyes on the next part.

Reviewed by

I'm a single mom, special needs mom, blogger, author, and editor. I've been reviewing books for a number of years. All of my reviews go on a minimum of three sites to help maximize exposure for the book/author. I have a wide variety of interests and enjoy sharing them.

Synopsis

Dragons, Elves, and Magic. What more could you want from a fantasy trilogy?

Maia, Elf Princess of Grildor, has trained her entire life to be the Elemental of her people. Yet, when she returns home to Elveron after her final test, disaster strikes. She has brought with her the very thing she tried to leave behind.

Faced with responsibilities she thinks she is not ready for, a love she does not reciprocate, and a threat to her people that might kill them all, she is suddenly forced to become what she is meant to be – a Prime.

An army more terrible than the nation of Grildor ever had to face is suddenly at the Gate and Maia, with the help of her dragon, Midnight, must face the challenges of saving her people.

The appearance of Death, however, might derail all their plans. Will the bad omen mean the end of them all, or can Maia overcome that which holds her back from true power?

Prologue & Chapter 1

The air was thin at this altitude, but her lungs were used to it. It

was thrilling to fly so close to the sun. She rose a little higher,

beating her wings faster and faster as the resistance dwindled.

Then, once the air could not sustain her any longer, she folded her

wings and dove towards the ground. Wind stung her eyes as she

raced downwards. She whooped with joy, but the sound was

snatched away by the wind before she could hear it.

About a mile from the ground, she spread her wings and

levelled out. The forest below was just a green blur as she sped

past and the mountains in the north were still too far away for her

to notice. She focused instead on the many lakes that dotted the

land below like so many diamonds sparkling in the sun.

She made a turn, circled one of the lakes below, and then

carried on towards the north. The sheer speed at which she

travelled, took her breath away, but that too she loved. She

covered miles in an instant, but it felt like she was flying for

eternity. Nothing could ever compare to the thrill of swooping low,

brushing the treetops, nor the peace and tranquillity of gliding

above the clouds, warmed by the closeness of the sun. She felt

whole, at peace with the world. She had everything she ever

desired right here, right now. This was where she truly belonged.

As she made her way north, she slowly became aware of

another presence. She craned her neck to see behind and above

her, but saw no one. The strange feeling of unease intensified,

until she eventually realised the other presence was in her mind.

She fought her panic as it started to probe her consciousness.

It felt immense and dangerous. Alien, yet strangely familiar. It

showed her images of strange creatures, twisted and tortured.

Faces of people, hurt and confused. Death and pain everywhere

she looked.

She fought the presence, to evict it from her mind, but

as she struggled, she realised it was not her that was invaded, but

rather that she was the one invading another. The realisation hit

her like something physical and with it came an unpleasant

tingling in her body. She was overcome by a sudden, terrible

weakness. She beat the wings she knew were not hers, but they no

longer listened to her command. Wind rushed past her face as she

lost altitude. The tingling in her body intensified, until it was

almost unbearable.

Her vision dimmed and her head pounded. She tried to

suppress the nausea she felt as she fell, but bile rose to her throat,

burning.

Faster and faster she plummeted, driving the air out of

her lungs. She tried to scream, but no sound came out. The ground

rushed closer and closer, the moment of impact only a heartbeat

away.

In her panic, she milled her arms, trying desperately to keep

herself airborne, but she kept falling and falling, faster and faster.

Then she hit the ground … and ceased to exist.


Aaron stretched. He had not slept this well in years. He thought

that he should be feeling angry, but he felt strangely elated and

looked forward to the day. Pulling on his suit and shoes, he wished

he had something clean to wear and then climbed out of his tent.

As he opened the strings that held the opening together, he

marvelled again at the softness of the fabric. He had never seen the

like before.

The air outside was crisp and clear, the grass a little damp

with early morning dew and the campsite was a bustle. Horses

were being groomed, tents folded and stashed away, and everyone

seemed to be busy with something. He noticed his kids were not

up yet, so found a place to sit around the now extinguished fire.

Someone wished him a good morning and brought him a cup of

tea. He nodded his thanks to the stranger and took the cup

gratefully. As he sipped the strange tasting, although pleasant,

liquid, he thought about the last three days. It was hard to believe

that so much could have happened in such a short time.

Thursday had been one of the toughest days in his entire life.

Lisa had called him, and the kids, to her sickbed. She had told

them all how much she loved them and then said it was her time to

go away. The kids had cried. They had known it was coming, but

one could never prepare for such a thing. Aaron had resigned

himself to the fact that his wife would die and there was nothing

he could do about it. Lisa had been diagnosed with cancer about

three years ago.

The doctors had been hopeful. Over the last fifty years or so,

there had been such advances in medicine that there were now few

illnesses the doctors could not cure. Lisa first went through

Chemo, twice. Then she had several operations, which failed.

They tried every drug on the market to suppress the cancer, so that

she could lead a normal life. None of the treatments had worked

and she steadily became worse. Her pronouncement had therefore

not surprised him, but it had not made it any easier to handle.

Then, on Friday morning, he had woken up to the sound of

the vintage Mercedes starting in the garage below. It was a relic

from the days when there were still roads through the countryside,

built back in 2094. His great-grandfather bought it direct from the

factory and Aaron had kept it out of nostalgia. He had been very

fond of his Gramps. The Mercedes was decrepit and unreliable.

They never used it any more. So, when he had heard the engine

turn, stutter and then rev noisily, he thought someone had broken

in and was stealing it. He ran downstairs in his sleeping shorts, but

by the time he arrived in the garage, the Mercedes was gone.

He had sprinted into the street and watched as the car turned

the corner into Main Street, Lisa behind the steering wheel. His

heart had beaten wildly in his chest as he contemplated what she

probably intended to do. It had taken him only a few minutes to

get the kids out of bed. They dressed hastily and then jumped into

his Lexus to track the Mercedes with their GPS.

Lisa was driving along the A36 towards Salisbury. They lived

in Southampton. It was one of the smaller suburbs of Greater

London. Although Salisbury was not far away, it could take two to

three hours to get there because the area was now so built up.

Concrete, high-rise apartment buildings covered every square foot

of ground not covered by some shopping mall or business.

He’d put his foot on the accelerator and the electric engine

whirred as it sped up and weaved through traffic. The Mercedes

was slow. He had expected to catch up with it quickly. He’d even

thought it would run out of fuel. There should not have been any

in there to begin with. Aaron had wondered how Lisa had

managed to acquire fossil fuel for the car. It was not manufactured

any more.

An agonising three hours later, they had spotted the Mercedes

ahead of them in the distance. They had passed Salisbury a while

ago and where by then close to Shrewton, another suburb of

Greater London. Confused, Aaron could not fathom where she

was going, when she turned east. They had followed her, steadily

catching up, but it wasn’t until she turned down the narrow lane

towards the museum that they realised where she was headed.

Stonehenge! It still stood, preserved as a natural history museum,

amid the glass and concrete city around it.

They reached the parking lot a few moments later. The

Mercedes was already parked close to the ticket office and they

could see Lisa limp up the path towards the stones. Aaron had

watched as she handed one of the armed guards her ticket. The

kids had jumped out of the car quickly and ran after their mother.

He followed close behind, not bothering with buying a ticket.

They had argued with the guards for a moment, but after

explaining the urgency, the men relented and let them through.

Lisa had reached the middle of the circle of stones by then.

She had looked haggard, in pain and utterly exhausted. She’d

turned towards them, but her eyes had been closed. Jasmin called

out to her and Lisa opened her eyes. Aaron distinctly remembered

the look of horror on her face when she saw them. They were only

a few feet from her, when, suddenly, everything went crazy. It had

felt like he was yanked off his feet, tossed into the air and then

tumbled and thrown about. Then he had blacked out.

He could not remember how much time passed before they

woke up here. Wherever here might be; he could still not quite

believe it. The first thing he felt when he woke up was the pain.

His head pounded and his body ached everywhere. He noticed

Luke, Jasmin and Lisa lying a few feet away from him.

When he looked around, he discovered they were in a strange

place; open grasslands stretched as far as the eye could see all

around them, and the west was dominated by mountains so big he

could hardly credit it. The air was cool and fresh and the sun

dazzlingly bright. However, the most astonishing thing was the

stones.

It was Stonehenge as it had probably looked like when it was

first built many hundreds of years ago. It was made up of three

rings within each other. The outer circle were tall, upright blocks

of stone, each connected to its neighbour by a slab of horizontal

stone laid across the space between the uprights, like a lintel. The

second circle was made up of smaller stones, still each the size of

a man, but small compared to the stones of the first circle. The

stones of this second ring also stood upright, with their flat

surfaces facing the interior of the ring. In the middle of the circle

stood five massive columns, each made up of two uprights and a

lintel. These stones were larger even than those of the outer circle.

Each of these columns also had three smaller stones placed in

front of it. The five columns formed more or less a semi-circle,

leaving a bigger space facing towards the east, giving the

impression of an entrance. An oblong, flat stone, somewhat like an

altar, was placed almost in the middle of the circle, but closer to

the central of the five columns.

He had struggled into a sitting position; he shuddered now as

he remembered the pain. Luke helped Jasmin to sit up and then

checked her to make sure she had no injuries. When Luke came to

assist him to his feet, he declined.

“First Mom,” Aaron croaked; his voice rough and his throat

sore.

Luke made his way over to his mother, cursing under his

breath about his sore body. When he reached her, he put his fingers

just below her jaw line and checked her pulse while Aaron

watched from a distance. He felt very strange in that moment,

concerned that his wife might be dead.

“I can feel her pulse. It was weak, but steady. But …”

“What?” Aaron scrambled to his feet and limped over to his

wife.

“Dad … it’s not Mom.”

His heart skipped a beat as he covered the last few feet. He

knelt next to the woman that was not his wife.

The girl was young, maybe a little older than Jasmin’s

seventeen years. She was extraordinarily beautiful, and her ears

had a slight pointiness to them that was rather peculiar. She had

long, auburn hair spread around her face like a halo. Her eyebrows

curved elegantly over her eyes. Her full lips were relaxed in sleep,

but there was a slight frown on her forehead as if she was having a

bad dream. She seemed familiar somehow, but he was certain he

had never seen her before.

“Lady, wake up,” Luke said softly and shook her gently by

the shoulders. The girl did not react. “She seems to be sleeping,

but I cannot wake her.”

Jasmin made her way over to them, sat on the grass next to

the sleeping girl, and gently brushed her hair back.

“She looks like Mom,” Jasmin said in her usual chirpy voice.

They argued for what felt like hours afterwards. Aaron was

adamant that she looked nothing like Lisa and Jasmin argued that

she felt like her mom, even if she didn’t look exactly like her. The

woman was of little concern to him; he was sure it was not his

wife and they had bigger problems. They were in a strange place,

without food, water or shelter, or even another person in sight.

Luke had lost his glasses. Jasmin was dizzy and Lisa was nowhere

to be found.

The kids assumed they were at Stonehenge, nothing else made

sense, but Aaron more felt, than knew, that they were very far

away from where they had parked the car that morning. He walked

around the stones periodically throughout the day, calling Lisa’s

name, hoping they might still find her. As the light started to fade,

so did his hope.

He felt helpless, exhausted and worried. He had never been so

unsure about anything before and he did not know how to cope

with it. Always there had been method and order in his life and he

tackled everything with a self-assuredness others admired. This he

did not know how to deal with.

“Papa, look,” Jasmin whispered as day turned to evening.

What Aaron saw then shocked him to the core.

“Two moons,” Luke said in awe.

The kids thought it cool; in general, they seemed to cope with

their situation better than he did. He sat down on the grass next to

the strange girl and put his head in his hands. Everything was

wrong here. Back home, there were no meadows or fields with

grass, the air was thick with smog and the world was never silent;

cars, machines, fourteen billion people, all contributed to the

decay of their world. Here, everything was different, and he did

not know what to make of it. The two moons had been the final

straw for him. He reasoned that it might be a projection, the kind

the big companies used for advertising, but even he had to admit

they looked real.

He was about to lie down on the grass to get some rest, when

Jasmin called out.

“What is it, Jaz?” Luke asked, joining them.

“Look at the tag on her suit.” She held the collar bent back to

show them.

“Lisa Nightingale,” Aaron whispered, and almost threw up.

It took the kids half the night to calm him down. He ranted

and raved, shouting at the two bedevilled moons, and only when

they finally sank behind the mountains in the distance did he curl

up next the girl who wore his wife’s suit to fall into fitful sleep.

Morning came with a startling suddenness; one moment it was

still cool and grey, the next the sun broke over the horizon in the

east and bathed them in warm sunlight. It was the first time in his

life he had seen a real sunrise. It was absolutely beautiful.

Nevertheless, the beauty of their surroundings was not able to

distract them from their problems; they were hungry, thirsty and

alone. They did not want to leave the girl in search for water, so

they sat, backs to one of the tall stones, enduring the heat of

midday.

It was very early in the afternoon when they heard it; the

menacing growl of a wild animal. He feared that there might be

animals here, but they had thus far not encountered any, besides

some birds. Now, their luck had finally run out and they found

themselves staring at a large, shaggy-haired wolf, his russet fur

bristling around his neck, his long teeth bared.

The wolf stalked towards them, all the while growling and

never breaking eye contact. Aaron sheltered the kids behind him,

but he was as terrified as they were. It seemed like hours that the

wolf stood there and when he eventually stopped growling and

turned away from them, Aaron sank down, his legs too weak to

hold him up any longer. Jasmin screamed and, when he looked up,

he saw the wolf standing over the sleeping girl. He struggled back

to his feet, unsure if he would be ready to defend the girl if the

wolf meant her harm, but then he licked the girl’s face, nudged her

a few times with his nose and curled up next to her and closed his

eyes.

They stayed at the pillar, watching the sleeping wolf and the

girl until the sun finally touched the tips of the mountains so far

away. Unexpectedly, the wolf sat up, wagged his tail and howled.

His voice as he howled into the fading sun, sounded so sad and yet

so elated at the same time, Aaron had difficulty explaining the

feelings it woke within him. He felt like crying. He put his arm

around Jasmin, who put her head on his chest and sobbed quietly.

Shortly after the wolf fell silent again, they heard a new

sound. They were not able to place it, nor which animal it could

have come from. When the head of one of the beasts finally

appeared around one of the stones, they all tensed with fear. Only

when they noticed the person on its back, did they realise that the

animal was a horse.

Others came, tethered their horses and, in a time faster than

seemed possible, erected a tent over the area where the girl was,

started a fire and transformed the area of the stones into a

campsite. Someone came and led them to a tent. There they were

given first water, then bread and later some tea. They were treated

kindly, but were not questioned. The people were friendly, but

seemed preoccupied with the mystery of the sleeping girl.

One old man in particular did not leave her side; neither did

the wolf. The old man periodically dabbed the girl lips with water

and then wiped her face. He did it with such tenderness, it made

Aaron wonder if he was her father. The old man talked to her

endlessly and, at one point, Aaron thought he was praying. Other

men came as well, kneeling next to the girl, talking to her, and one

handsome young man sat by her for a long while, held her hand,

and Aaron was sure he saw a tear on the young man’s cheek as he

bent to kiss her. It elicited feelings within Aaron he could not

explain.

As the moons made their way across the sky, someone served

them a stew. It was the most delicious meal he had ever eaten,

although he would not have been able to tell what its ingredients

were.He watched the people as he ate. Everyone had the same

pointy ears as the girl, but in some it was more pronounced,

especially the old man. All seemed to be somewhere in their

thirties or younger, with exception of the old man and a midget.

They were also beardless, bar the midget, whose facial hair was so

prolific that it was difficult to see his face or features. Most of the

men were dressed in uniform, with breastplates, shoulder pads and

some kind of wrapping for the forearms and lower legs.

Aaron desperately wanted answers, but no one came forth

with any. It was only much later that night that the old man finally

left the girl to come sit by them. The handsome young man that

had served them their dinner now also brought the old man some

tea. Aaron clenched his fists when the young man smiled at Jasmin

before he left. She looked all too pleased with herself.

Gnashing his teeth, he suppressed his fatherly protectiveness

and concentrated on the old man; he really hoped for answers.

Close up he appeared even older; his skin was wrinkled and his

hair white and thin. Nevertheless, his eyes shone bright and

revealed a sharp mind.

“Please forgive me, Sir, for not having introduced myself

before. I have been somewhat preoccupied,” the old man said.

“My name is Silas Nightshield.”

Aaron introduced first himself, then the children. There was

some confusion when Aaron wanted to shake hands with the man;

apparently it was not their custom.

“It is good to meet you, Aaron and children. We have been

wondering about your presence here and we were hoping you

could assist us in finding out what happened to Maia. I have done

everything I can for her, she is comfortable now, but I cannot wake

her.”

Disappointment flooded through Aaron; he was the one

looking for answers, but it seemed the old man had come to him

looking for those as well. He gave a brief recount of what had

happened to them over the last two days. During his telling, Silas

became quiet and his face grew serious.

When Aaron was finished, Silas asked, “Stonehenge on

Earth?”

This started a conversation that kept them busy until the

moons began their descent behind the snow-capped mountains.

Aaron could now recall every word had Silas said to them.

“This might be difficult to understand, Aaron, but you are not

on Earth now. This is Elveron, a sister planet of Earth. It seems

you have travelled through our Gate, Greystone, to come here.”

Silas pointed at the stones around them and nodded as if to

confirm something to himself. “The Gate is named Stonehenge

only on Earth. Humans have not been to Elveron in a very long

time. Elves and Humans used to be close, we traded with each

other, but that was centuries ago. That you should be here now can

only mean that you have come here with Maia. Why and how, I do

not know, but she must have had her reasons. We will leave at first

light in the morning to take her home. You are welcome to travel

with us, if you wish; otherwise you can leave to go home once we

have cleared the Gate.”

There was then even greater confusion once Silas realised that

they did not know how to use the Gate, or that they had not come

of their own volition. Aaron was thereafter introduced to Lord

Longshadow, who apparently was the King of the Elves and

Maia’s father, and they discussed in length the implications. When

Silas voiced his suspicion that Maia was, indeed, his wife Lisa,

Aaron forgot all his manners. He yelled and swore and it was only

when Jasmin started to cry that Luke was able to lead him away to

his tent.

It took him another hour to calm down. Contrite he went to

apologise to the king of the Elves and his advisor. They accepted

his apology with dignity and assured him they would do

everything in their power to find a way home for him and his

children.

About the author

Born in Germany, Toni Cox moved to South Africa in 1991. She is an accomplished horse rider and has a diploma in project management, photography, and nutrition, and has a passion for books and all things fantasy. Toni Cox writes Epic Fantasy, Young Adult Fantasy, Sci-Fi Fantasy, Dystopian Fantasy. view profile

Published on July 13, 2017

Published by

120000 words

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Reviewed by

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