Readers' Favorite

June 17, 2024

Read the First Two Books in Kritika H.Rao's Hard to Put Down Epic Fantasy Series Today

by MK French

Are you reading Kritika H. Rao's epic fantasy series The Rages? It was a new-to-me series, so I read Book 1 The Surviving Sky, which came out last summer, before picking up Book 2 The Unrelenting Earth, which comes out tomorrow. 

Amazon affilate links are used on this site. Free books were provided for an honest review.

Book One: The Surviving Sky

book cover of post-apocalyptic novel The Surviving Sky by Kritika H. Rao
June 2023; Titan Books; 978-1803361246
audio, ebook, print (528 pages); epic fantasy

The last refuges of humanity survive on floating plant-made civilizations hovering over earthrage storms. They're held together by tradition, technology, and magic, knowledge kept by the revered architects. Iravan is one of these architects, and it makes up his entire identity. His archaeologist wife Ahilya sees it as a way to suppress the people. The two have a thorny marriage but must work together when a jungle expedition goes horribly wrong and their city begins to plummet from the sky.

Architects manipulate plants through sheer force of will, a technique known as trajection. It happens in a dual vision that only they have, which they call a Moment. There are limits to what trajection can do, and it's grown more and more difficult with time. Exceeding those limits and not having any ties to the floating cities or other people means an architect is entering ecstasy, which leaves them with no caring for others or concern about the welfare of the city. It is seen as unstable and dangerous, so any ecstatic architect is severed from their ability. In this world, everything is meant to happen for the good of the city. Sungineers use technology to store trajection energy to create gadgets for the rest of the people and maintain the stability of the massive engines keeping the cities afloat. The pressure to create more batteries mounts, especially with the growing difficulty to manipulate plants.

Iravan and Ahilya have different perspectives on what is best for the people; as a Senior Architect he has multiple responsibilities and permissions for his trajection, and as an archaeologist looking into their world's history for an alternate means to survive the surface earthrages, they're at odds. This comes through in their marriage and the disagreement to have children, and they're often left arguing with each other and avoiding each other for months at a time. Iravan wants to connect but has a hard time seeing any perspective besides his own until it's too late. Ahilya is just as stubborn and is sensitive to the feeling that non-architects aren't valued as highly.

Because of their arguments, they don't talk to each other about their concerns or theories about the earthrages until about halfway through the book, when grief brings them back together. Iravan is too scared of the secrets he had to hide as an Architect and the changes in trajection that he sensed but others didn't believe in; he doesn't want to be seen as ecstatic. It worsens his relationship with Ahilya, and it's not until their city might potentially fall that they work together. The two wind up tracing the history of their planet, and Iravan experiences memories of past reincarnations and the cosmic beings that architects are frightened of. It's fascinating world building, with an entire world on the brink of disaster. With those kinds of stakes, it's really hard to put the book down and walk away.

Buy The Surviving Sky at Amazon

Book 2 The Unrelenting Earth

book cover of post-apocalyptic novel The Unrelenting Earth by Kritika H. Rao
June 2024; Titan Books; 978-1803365275
audio, ebook, print (528 pages); 

In the two months following Ahilya and Iravan's discovery about the earthrages, cosmic creatures struggle to break through the world. Architecture is disintegrating, so a Conclave is formed to discuss the future of the floating cities. Ahilya is now a councillor and wants to share information to liberate ordinary citizens. This desire is creating dangerous enemies, and Iravan must convince the Conclave that the truth about Ecstatic trajection is not unstable. He has difficulty with his own abilities, just as the barrier containing the cosmic beings is thinning. A storm is coming, and the couple are running out of time to save humanity.

The cosmic beings in this world once came and explored, and used their higher consciousness to traject into humans, the way humans currently traject into plants. They grew separate, with their disconnected humans retaining that ability to become architects. Those who didn't break up their soul connections were "ordinary" people in the world. They fear dissolving into nothing, losing consciousness, and completing the reincarnation cycles that humans are capable of. This puts them at odds with architects and sungineers alike, and the politicking continues as all the floating sister cities converge and try to determine what to do next. Ahilya wants to try saving everyone, regardless of trajection ability, and hopes to eventually have the cities land on the jungle floor and return to the world their ancestors left behind. Iravan faces battles of his own: architects of the conservative cities want his ability excised, the falcon he bonded to now wants control, and there are unbound cosmic entities that want to break through the barriers to destroy what they cannot understand.

This trilogy deals with the weighty topics of consciousness, individualism vs community and the needs of a couple to work together. Iravan and Ahilya often work at crossroads, just as they did before they discovered the existence of the cosmic entities. Their city, for all its adherence to tradition, is actually the most forward-thinking one of them all. Other cities want to cling to tradition, as there are now skyrages threatening the stability of the floating cities as well as earthrages rocking the planet's surface. As much as Iravan and Ahilya had theorized that trajection created these rages, other architects are unwilling to give up the power they have or consider alternate points of view. These abilities are dangerous, untested, and spreading like wildfire throughout the other cities. Councilors are willing to sacrifice individuals for the sake of entire cities, and it's hardly an easy task.

The conclusion of this volume is not what the characters or the reader would have thought it would be. It sets up the third book in the trilogy and furthers the conflicts between the couple, those in charge of the cities, and the cosmic beings. It remains a question of whose desire will win out in the end, and if the peace that comes from annihilation will be worth the price.

Buy The Unrelenting Earth at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever.

Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by following us. Get even more book news in your inbox, sign up for our newsletter today! Or Follow Girl Who Reads with Bloglovin. Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.


Post a Comment