DiscoverYoung Adult Fantasy

Gathering Wise

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Worth reading 😎

Written with fantasy lovers in mind, GW will be especially enjoyed by all those interested in both spiritual and scientific realms.

Synopsis

At the dawn of a new age, a young girl named Perl that has become akin to a god after eating the fruit of wisdom from the Bodhi tree and tasked with carrying the remaining fruits across the untamed wilderness. Along the way she shares the fruit with others, transforming them to become Wise like herself so that together they can build a new civilization.

This novel was written with young fantasy lovers in mind and especially for those who are interested in both spiritual and scientific elements. The world of Gathering Wise begins with a single angel and a magical Bodhi tree. The Bodhi tree’s fruit births “The Wise” who are an adventurous fellowship made up of just over a dozen creatures who eat the fruit to gain sentience and other distinctive powers. This elemental fantasy seems to introduce an alternative idea of creation, regeneration, and possibly even scientific reincarnation for YA and adolescent readers. 


There are elements that seem biblical, like: a fruit that bestows wisdom, an accelerated timeline of discovery, as well as newly conscious beings feeling the sudden need to wear clothes. Instead of constellations and inventions taking hundreds of years to create or discover, it takes only mere months due to some innate intelligence the characters' possess. Every character seems to also awaken with boundless curiosity with either an adventurous, scientific, or spiritual mind. The author clearly has a scientific mind, as that’s how this story reads — a series of journaled observations, events, seasons, and landscapes. In particular, I love that time is kept by the cycles of the moon.


The pace of this novel does crawl along and did not always hold my attention, as it does not spend too much time developing any one character. There are names used from many cultures (Japanese, Celtic, Islamic, Hindu etc) in this imagined realm and a wide variety of creatures, such as: elk, ent-like mushroom, fae, reptiles, owls, cat-like mammals, and more.


World-building in Gathering Wise is pretty detailed geographically, but somewhat sparse compared to other series. I definitely would have loved to see a full map. There are luminous tree-sized mushrooms, Whisper forests, twenty six hour days, and exotic purple Bodhi fruit awaiting to intrigue readers. While Gathering Wise was hard to pin down to one genre, I do feel it has some elements of the Alchemist, mostly for its journey to find meaning and instill purpose to their world. There may also be some subtle nods to Oz and LOTR. There are brief and unexpected Sci-Fi elements to enjoy too.


In critiquing this novel, I did find the gender roles were more overt than expected. The use of “hysterical” to describe a main female character was tiresome and outdated, in my assessment. A struggle I also had with the flow of this story was the lack of visual descriptors of the characters and their sometimes basic or austere relationships to one another. This book could have been condensed in some areas and extended in character development and dialogue.


In the end, this story is a journey of all thirteen ‘Wise’, extinction, and continued existence. There is a very brief, but satisfying denouement, and I credit the author with creating an ending that was not easily anticipated. You will be left with an intriguing explanation for what happens after the end of humanity.


Finally, I would recommend this novel to young readers who enjoy embarking on long treks with an array of creatures and especially those who value the connections often found between science, the environment, and spirituality.

Reviewed by

Nomadic Soul. BOI>TUS>DEN>SEA. Particularly love reading novels saturated in feminism, culture, world travel, history, and empowerment. Many forms of storytelling have a special place in my heart, but I usually fall hardest for authentic memoirs, anthologies, and mythology in particular.

Synopsis

At the dawn of a new age, a young girl named Perl that has become akin to a god after eating the fruit of wisdom from the Bodhi tree and tasked with carrying the remaining fruits across the untamed wilderness. Along the way she shares the fruit with others, transforming them to become Wise like herself so that together they can build a new civilization.

Rebirth of Ego

None remain to say what this world was like during the time that came before. Too many seasons have come and gone, eroding away the memory of past civilizations. In solitude, a singular mind endured, wandering alone throughout the empty age. A shepherd whose flock consists of a single tree, and born from the race of those who came before that called themselves Unfinit. They were masters over all things in their tiny corner of the universe, but the universe itself refuses to be controlled, and eventually it decided their time was finished. The Unfinit chose to fight their doom. All of their greatest minds devoted themselves solely to their preservation. But the only permanence, is impermanence. It is a fundamental law of time. Entropy, after all, is only an interpretation of time, and vice versa, but that's a thought for another life. 

The first memories of a new history are created on a perfect day, just as it's about to begin, and the first rays of light have just broken the horizon. The weather's warm, and a slight breeze carries the sweet scent of salt water with it. Unseen birds add their voices to the ambiance, cheerfully singing their morning songs to one another, sounding far away, yet clear and undisturbed. 

A girl lay still beneath the open sky, keeping her eyes closed to its brightening. She focuses instead on all the other sensations bombarding her freshly woken mind. Eventually, she lets her doe eyes open. They're colored light blue with a burst of yellow at their center, and they look more wise than her adolescent frame otherwise appears. 

She finds herself lying on her back, with the boughs of a lone tree gently swaying above. She's positioned at the top of a hill that steadily declines to a valley below. Beyond the valley grows a dense wood of tall leafy green trees that stretch out to the horizon, with a vague glimmer of a few mountain peaks further away. In the other direction, just on the other side of her lone tree, is the precipice of a sheer cliff, that drops into a vast sea of tranquil cerulean water with no sight to its end.

She has no idea how or why she’s here. No memory of anything that has ever happened before this moment. Confused, she picks herself up out of the green foliage she's nestled in, and realizes that she's not alone.

Sitting under the nearby tree is another woman, older than herself, similar in stature, but different. The woman is completely bald, in fact, she appears to have no hair growing anywhere on her faintly glowing golden skin. She wears some loose fitting fabric of the purest white, draped and tied about her softly. Her slender golden arms are left exposed, and the back of her dress opens where two large feathered wings, as white as her clothing, are folded together. She holds something in her hand, flimsy and with a series of markings upon it, and she's looking it over thoughtfully when she notices the newly awoken.

“Hello…” her voice is soft and inviting, “would you like any help?”

She doesn’t know how, but she understands her words, and instinctively knows how to respond. “Oh... no, thank you.”

“Okay,” the golden woman smiles at her again, then looks back at what she's holding before adding in her delicate way of speaking, “rise when you're ready. We have all the time you need.”

Even more confused now the girl pushes herself up, admiring the soft green plants she'd been lying on, then looks up at the tree that dominates the nearby scenery. The tree only has a few thick branches sprouting out from its wide trunk. At the end of each of those branches are patches of leaves, and among each of those patches, a single purple fruit. The bark of the tree is light brown, almost white, and the leaves a dark green.

Draped over her own body is clothing similar to the other's, though not so perfectly white as hers. She leans forward to reach around and feel her own back to see if she, like the golden woman, has those magnificent feathered wings, but is disappointed to discover nothing there.

“There were thirteen of them once, including yours,” the winged woman tells her as she finishes up what she was reading and slips it into some hidden fold of her clothing, “of the fruit I mean to say.” She doesn’t look up to the tree as she continues speaking, choosing instead to keep her eyes locked on her newly awoken companion. “The tree is called Bodhi, and there were once thirteen of them as well, long ago that is. Now though, even if you searched the whole world for ten-thousand years you would never find another, and these twelve fruits are the only left, and the only that this tree will bear for millennia, if it ever bears more at all.”

 “I’m sorry,” the sleeper interrupts her, “but I have no idea how I got here.”

“Of course. I’m the one who should be sorry. I understand that it’s terribly confusing... being reborn like this and all.” The golden woman rises from where she sits, approaches the other, and offers her hand. “My name is Ohm,” the golden woman says. “Let me show you something.”

Ohm scoops her up into her arms with surprising ease. The touch of her skin feels so natural that the newly awoken forgets any feelings of suspicion and lets herself be taken away. Ohm’s great wings spread and gently begin to flap, the air being silently pushed away in sweet fragrant gusts, and she feels almost weightless as her feet lift away from the ground. Up they go, straight up, until they are just above the height of the Bodhi tree.

“This is only a small fraction of the world,” Ohm says, carrying her easily like a child cradled in her arms. “This is your gift. My gift, to you. An age is ended… a new age must begin. Take the fruit of the tree with you, any who eat of it will be awakened just as you were, and with your chosen, you shall build a new world.”

Ohm begins a gentle descent to the ground, flapping her wings with little effort. She lands and places the other carefully back down beside her. Once the sleeper’s feet are back on the ground, she feels a strange sadness, like she's lost something that she's had since before she was born.

“Please,” she looks into the bottomless light emitting from Ohm's eyes, “who am I?”

Ohm looks back at her for a moment and casts a loving smile. “Who would you like to be?”

She doesn't know how to answer that. How could she? She's only just been born. All she can think is that she'd like to be like Ohm. To be able to make anyone feel like everything's going to be alright. She wants to be able to comfort anyone the way Ohm has comforted her.

“Could you give me a name?” she asks, and she reaches out to grab her hand.

Ohm nods and looks thoughtfully at her for a moment more. “I'll remember you as Perl," she says, and she releases Perl's hand. "The world is yours Perl. You are the first, you always were, and you always will be. Explore and make of it what you will, and I will watch over you."

"You're coming then?" Perl asks.

"You may not always be aware of my presence, but I'll always be beside you." Ohm looks out to the horizon. She appears lost in thought as she smiles with admiration. "This isn't my world anymore," she eventually says, "my interference in your journey, beyond what is already known, could have unforeseen consequences, and none would benefit from it. You'll not feel alone for long. The fruit will provide you with new companions sooner than you think.

“Take the Bodhi. Explore the world and give it a name, as I have given one to you. Give names to all the things you come across. Choose twelve others to receive the Bodhi. You will want for companionship otherwise. But don't rush yourself, the fruit will never spoil, and neither will you, now that you've eaten of it. So take as long as you need. But first, you should rest.”

The word casts a spell over her, and Perl suddenly tires. So much, in fact, that her vision blurs, and her eyelids hang like they've the weight of the world upon them, and she lets Ohm take her in her arms and lay her gently back down at the base of the Bodhi tree. The last thing she sees is Ohm's face, lovingly looking back at her, as her glow dims and she fades away.

About the author

M.K. Baker is a stay at home father of two with a passion for good stories. He lives in southeast Colorado in a farming community of fewer than 500 people where he writes and illustrates the fantastical world of Trip. view profile

Published on December 29, 2019

Published by

70000 words

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Reviewed by

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