The orphaned Bingmei didn’t choose to be a hero. She has no wish to cross the Death Wall to save the world. But she has awakened Echion, emperor of the Grave Kingdom and Dragon of Night, and it is her destiny to defy him. From his imperial city of ancient sorcery and immortal darkness, Echion conspires to fulfill his own destiny: vanquish Bingmei, revive his queen, and rule together for another eon unchallenged.
Traversing a labyrinth of caves and mountains, Bingmei and her band of allies prepare their defense against a fateful war they cannot win. But when they are overcome by Echion’s terrible power, Bingmei is left vulnerable to a ruthless assassin…one with orders to capture, not kill.
Before he destroys her, Echion craves something more than Bingmei’s soul. Only she has the power to resurrect Echion’s ancient queen, Xisi, whose evil is matched only by his own. Once reunited, their dark shadow will fall like a shroud over the realms. To be a savior, Bingmei must first survive what she has unleashed, and to survive she must begin to understand the seeds of power she’s never learned to control.
My Review – Rave
The Buried World by Jeff Wheeler takes us on the next leg of Bingmei’s heroic journey to save her world from the evil Echion, the recently revived dragon king who is as evil as the evilest despot that you can imagine.
What I Loved
The tone of this installment of the series fluctuates between hopelessness and determination, whereas the first book was full of wonder and fear. Echion does not leave room for a positive tone as he proves his absolute might to an unexpecting world. No one can escape him, though many have died trying. He knows all, sees all, and is more than willing to kill all, of which there is no doubt.
Bingmei is feeling the weight of being the Phoenix-chosen, the only one that can stop him. She fights her destiny, as her natural inclination toward survival kicks in – her choices to save the world conflict with those she instinctually makes to save herself and her friends. It’s a harsh realization for her to make, and that is adequately reflected in the weighty tone.
All of the characters, who help Bingmei, face individual challenges. These challenges aid in the growth, development, and complexity of each character that I have grown to love and admire. Each death that takes place, though inevitable, is one more character I will miss along the way. And each success against all the odds is ones that I celebrate for the characters as they have too much work to do to allow themselves to take the time to rejoice.
My favorite character is still Quion. I can imagine him running along, hefting his too-heavy backpack full of essentials, pots, and pans jangling, and his snow leopard companion by his side. He is so endearing with his unfailing determination and friendship. His survival skills are so ingenious that they alone reflect the complexity of his character, who otherwise would seem inconsequential in a fight for life against an unstoppable foe.
The power of forgiveness sticks with me. Bingmei is compelled to forgive one of the last people she would ever expect to bestow this gift upon, and in its subtle way, it truly begins to turn the tide and is more magical then than any Phoenix blade, mei wood staff or mei wood cricket. Sometimes it’s the small things that can make the difference when all hope is lost.
I also sympathize with Rowen’s struggles as he tries to find where his destiny lies. Instinctively he knows he has a role to play, but challenges and people try to convince him otherwise. Whereas Bingmei wears her specialness, Rowen does not have any outward markers, which proves more challenging than the weight of Bingmei’s destiny.
I love everything about this story – it’s intricately woven characters who each reflect characteristics that are as strong as the smells that emanate from them, it’s beautiful and deadly setting and its universal themes that are just beginning to emerge. I especially love the rune magic and the dragon lore, as these add more wonder to an already beautiful world.
To Read or Not to Read
Lovers of epic fantasy will be missing out if they don’t pick up this new series by Jeff Wheeler. I give it six stars on a scale of 1-5 and whole-heartedly rave about it.