Spolier Free Summary: The Mountains Rise is the first book in the Embers of Illeniel trilogy by Michael G. Manning. Daniel Tennick is a young boy on the cusp of first love and a normal life. The birth of a terrible secret also brings the awakening of power, a power the wardens of the forest gods mean to keep contained. Daniels desire to punish himself for an event that was never his fault forces him into a world of horror, slavery, and, heartbreak. I read this series out of order. Betrayer’s Bane was the first-ever winner of my Book Cover of the Month competition. Reading it made me want to learn more. You can see my review for that book here.
Character: Manning has proven to be a master character developer. Seeing Daniel’s journey begin was a rewarding experience for me. I expected to learn more about Daniel, but the trilogy truly was about all of the characters we meet in this saga. Not all of these characters are good, but they’re all well thought out. Their motivations and limitations are clear. Tyrion was always a heartbreaking character, reading this book brought exactly the sort of clarity I hoped for.
Exposition: This book was solid in this regard. I think some of the scenes with Mort (who you’ll meet via cut scenes), feel like exposition, but those scenes also serve to show the reader the larger world Manning developed. Most of the information the readers receive is through the action of the character, which is what I prefer.
Worldbuilding: I already knew the world building to this series was great. What I appreciate (and what has me reading the Mageborn series) is for all the dots to connect. This book eases the reader into the magic and species of the realm with patience. What I look for in world building is what I need to know as I need to know it. This book does that wonderfully (as does the series). I think the character and the overall world building (perhaps the plotting) are what make this series so easy to read through.
Dialogue: I’m neutral about the dialogue in this book with one exception. While I don’t think the dialogue here was “snappy” or “quick,” it was powerful. There is an element here that requires note. There is a content warning with this book (and the series). Something happens in the beginning that might test some readers or even have some readers turn away. It’s honestly an issue I’m very sensitive about. That said, Manning treated that situation with respect, showing the impact this despicable act can have on not just the ones involved, but by all the ones those people care about. The dialogue and reactions of the character in this issue were done with sympathy. I despise books that use real-world terrible issues just to get a shock out of the audience. Manning didn’t do this. It was an integral part to Daniel’s development and being. You’ll have to read the book to find out more on what “act” I’m speaking of.
Description: Manning’s strength in description is in the sense of touch. A lot of times through this book I could almost feel (sometimes unfortunately so) what was happening to the characters. He’s decent in the other areas of description, but fans of books that make you feel like the characters will like this aspect of the book.
Overall: Manning delivers a world that is both dark and amazing. His story is built on such sadness, tragedy, and betrayal, one can’t help but want to see what happens. It’s heartbreaking to see how things go and to think of how they could have gone if only…
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