Song of Blood and Stone by L. Penelope is the first edition in the Earthsinger Chronicles. Earthsingers are people who have a magical ability called Earthsong. It is as natural to them as air, and connects them to nature. They are non-confrontational people but can utilize the elements of earth as defense in battle. Those born with Earthsong are scorned by people who are born without.
Jasminda was the strongest of them all, even if her Earthsong was the weakest.
Despite being hardly tolerated in Elsira, Jasminda manages to keep her chin held high while living alone on her family property. Her father was an Earthsinger from Lagrimar but stayed in Elsira to be with her mother. Her parents were not well liked in their town because of their interracial relationship. For choosing to marry an Earthsinger, Jasminda’s mother was disowned from her Elsirian family.
Lagrimarians are not trusted, are believed to be inferior, and are often referred to as the slur “grol”. L. Penelope has presented a different concept for representing bias and the hardships people endure for having a quality that is naturally inherent to them. Earthsong is the cause of discrimination while the color of their skin is only an outward indicator of the ability.
Jack, an Elsirian soldier and therefore not an Earthsinger, is our leading man carrying a few secrets. He is caught spying on Lagrimarian soldiers and beaten nearly to death. It is when his captors commandeer Jasminda’s cabin that she and Jack are thrown together in a fight for survival. They are a formidable pair, each saving the other time and time again. Just when they think they can find happiness with each other, they arrive at Elsira’s Capital where less than a handful of people are kind to Jasminda.
Her appearance attracts gossip and rudely open stares.
Jasminda receives little kindness and virtually no respect while in Elsira’s Capital. Internally she feels the pain of being judged, yet outwardly she is the picture of confidence. She is a stronger heroine than most. Her internal struggle with the cruelty of others is honest and how most of us feel when we are misjudged. How she reacts reflects a deep will not to succumb to the prejudice of others. She manages to continue putting the well being of others before her own, desperate to figure out why The Queen Who Sleeps is sending her visions in her dreams.
Despite the personal cost to her own happiness, Jasminda is determined to find a way to wake The Queen and stop The True Father from taking over the lands and stealing Earthsong from all Lagrimarians. She finds new friends among the Lagrimarian refugees who have managed to hide from The True Father and retain their Earthsongs. Not all of them trust her, but they recognize that she has been chosen by The Queen.
Song of Blood and Stone touches on another sensitive subject, the treatment of refugees. There is dangerous tension and mistrust among refugees and soldiers. They’re rejected by the community and thought of as less than. This isn’t the key story line but it does easily apply to our very real climate.
There might be some predictability in the love story, but I was not expecting the amount of feelings I would experience in this book. I was entranced by the magic of Earthsong, and impressed at the resilience of a young woman in the face of adversity.
Song of Blood and Stone is much more than a young fantasy story, it is an experience that all book readers need to endure.