At age sixteen, Mink Jollè still hasn’t discovered his Elemental affinity, which is an identity crisis unheard of on the planet Georra. He has endured constant bullying while being held back in school, and his parents have come to employ drastic measures to help him mature. Their current ruse is a camping trip on Rift Ridge, where they test Mink to the breaking point, to no avail.
Meanwhile, Mink and his parents run across a Machinist scout searching out a mother lode of ore, who finds more than he bargains for. An immense geode buried deep in the ground is fabled to be the Tear of God, and the first nation to claim it will hold power and protection unrivaled on Georra.
The race is on as Mink’s parents stand guard at the Tear of God, sending Mink back to his homeland for help. Defying the odds and surprising himself, Mink succeeds in delivering the news to his people, and is chosen to assist a Team in returning to the site to relieve his parents and acquire the Tear of God for Octernal. Along the way, Mink is forced to rely on his strengths without an Element in order to win respect and ultimately discover his true identity.
Raymond has enjoyed writing from an early age. He lives in Coastal North Carolina with his wife and two daughters. His character driven stories reflect the diversity of the places he has lived and the jobs he has had, focusing on animals and film.
Here readers are introduced to the other members of Mink's Cell. The treatment Mink receives here is no different than he has dealt with most of his life.
Knowing Mink was going to have to spend the next few days with these people and trying to win them over to his side, I wanted characters that felt distinct and fun to play with. Each character (even regarding the twins as two separate people) wound up being so rich, I could simply have Trale' give a look, Sapo a movement, and/or Mouke' a comment and add a lot of tone to a scene without slowing down the story. Efficient writing really contributes to the success of this book.
Tear of God – Elements
Sapo stood, towering over Alré at a height of at least seven feet tall. She waved to the group with elongated hands and fingers that could grab Mink’s head like a piece of fruit. Her lips hardly moved when she spoke, and her voice was so quiet that Mink thought at first she was talking to herself.
“Hi, I’m Sapo. I’m nineteen years old. I work as an irrigator at the Sekmet Ranch. It’s fun, I guess. They’re nice people and I like what I do. It feels important. When I’m not working, I like to paint. That’s about it.” Sapo sat down and stared self-consciously off in the distance.
“Sapo’s being modest.” Alré reached up to put a hand on Sapo’s shoulder. “She is ranked as the second best Water user under twenty-five and is the highest paid irrigator in Floth, doing the work of ten people.”
Sapo flushed and looked down, letting her hair hide her face. Mink opted to go ahead with his introduction and help her recover from her embarrassment. He stood.
“I’m Mink Jolle. I haven’t found my Elemental affinity yet.”
Tralé threw a look at Mouké while pointing at Mink. “It’s him!” Mouké just smiled back and elbowed his brother. Sapo looked away from Mink and was either giggling or about to sneeze, he couldn’t be sure.
Undaunted, he continued, “But, I am the only person to ever attend Riverpark High that got an ‘A+’ on Mr. Gusky’s Reactionary Strategies Exam.” Tralé and Mouké took note and became noticibly more curious. “I’m at a post-graduate weapons proficiency. I don’t really know what kind of job I’ll get, but I was thinking about—”
“Mink’s getting a little carried away,” Alré interrupted and abruptly spoke for him. “The only reason he’s here is because he has been to our destination site. Moving on to Tralé.”
Mink dropped to his seat while Tralé rose and nodded. “Tralé Penbik. Twenty-one. I design and make buses for Grenk. I’ve won the Cross Octernal Invitational twice and I plan on racing again this year. Glad to meet everyone.”
Tralé had barely sat before Mouké stood. “I’m his brother Mouké. I’m an architect until I finish up my doctorate. Then I’ll try to teach at the University level. I don’t race so that Tralé can win. I’m engaged and will marry in a few months. For now, I’m just working and studying.” Mouké sat.
Mink felt completely out of place. No mental achievement or level of ability with weapons mattered in the company of these young Elemental geniuses. Friendless among strangers, now all he wanted to do was keep his head down, point the group in the right direction, and be reunited with his parents as soon as possible.
“Now.” Alré sat between Mink and Sapo. “I’m sure you have lots of questions.” She searched the group expectantly.
Mink had nothing but questions. Still, he couldn’t bring himself to speak up. With any luck, someone else would ask the same ones. But no one wanted to go first.