In Children of theElementi, UK author Ceri Clark has written a modern fantasy that manages to create a place in todays world for magic. The premise of the story is that of a highly developed civilization on a world called Eleria. Some of the citizens are blessed with the ability to travel inter-dimensionally. There has been a coup, and the ruling families have been nearly wiped out. The Magi, members of their society who rely upon technology for their powers, have deposed the Elementi; people who have an innate ability to use the elements in a fashion that is akin to magic. Somehow, the Elementi manage to spirit some of their children to safety a hundred year into the future, in the dimension that just happens to contain our earth.
This story starts out with action-packed adventure and does not quit until the end. The twists and turns are quite unexpected, but all are well written and make complete sense. The powers and abilities that the characters have are not unlimited. There are rules and consequences for using that power; and using it draws the notice of the Magi. This creates the tension and keeps the plot moving at a fast gallop.
Jake’s parents passed away, and he is living with his aunt and uncle; a situation that is less than ideal as his uncle is not a nice man. Jake knows that he can do some things that are akin to magic, but he keeps his knowledge close to himself. His ability to read minds has been both a blessing and a curse; and he has some control over fire. One day he reads in his Aunt’s mind that he was actually adopted. When he searches their home for the papers that prove this, he also finds a crystal on a chain that is from his birth parents.
He has excellent skills with the internet, but when he puts the crystal around his neck his ability to use the internet is transformed exponentially. An incident occurs at school during which he inadvertently uses his powers. This alerts Mirrim, who has been looking for him, to get him to safety. With Mirrim, Jake embarks on a series of adventures that will eventually reunite him with all four of the other Children of the Elementi.
Jake is in reality the true High King of Eleria. Of all the Elementi, Jake is the only one with the ability to wield all four of the elements. Mirrim represents the element of Air. She is older, and is the caretaker of the Matrix. She insists that they must find the Children who represent the three other elements: Fire, Water and Earth. When they are all reunited they will be able to revive the Matrix which has been operating at only a small portion of its capacity.
Jake stands in the way of the current King of Eleria, Aras. Aras is a young man who is half Magi and half Elementi. Each time Jake uses his talents Aras becomes more gravely ill, and eventually he will die because with his mixed blood he should not actually be alive. Aras is to a certain extent a selfish person but he is not stupid; on the contrary he is actually quite intelligent. However, he is being advised by Ecu, a crafty and evil mage who has his own agenda and has Aras’ health in his hands with his potions.
The enemies are very well drawn, and the lengths that they will go to in their effort to remain in power are well plotted; as is the task of Jake and the other Children of the Elementi. Clark’s telling of this story is so compelling that I read this book in one day and re-read it again immediately.
I love the basis of Clark’s universe, and the logic that went into creating it. The Elementi originally gained their powers through a close association with an immense, crystalline power source called the Matrix. This is a creation of an even older society and is, among other things, an uber-internet created from living crystal. The Matrix has access to an immense knowledge base and gains knowledge at every opportunity. It is linked to certain crystals that each of the hidden children can use. Members of the Elementi can tap into the Matrix with their minds and have other unique powers related to their family’s particular element that they can use IF they know how.